Bill of Rights Defense Campaign

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State Resolutions Toolkit

Though each of the 50 states abide by the same U.S. Constitution, individual states and state legislatures are a world unto themselves. Our state constitutions differ, sometimes greatly, though time has standardized much of their content. Though a state constitution cannot contradict the federal Constitution, some state constitutions contain provisions for protection of privacy and individual rights that exceed protections contained in the U.S. Constitution.

There is no one formula or model that will yield a successful state resolution. Many of the organizing ideas and solutions contained here may be practiced by any campaign anywhere anytime. And many of them will fit best only under particular circumstances. Your campaign will not necessarily look like anyone else’s campaign. Your group may have difficulty building a state coalition, while grassroots organizers in another state easily form alliances.

But then, the ultimate success of your resolution may lie in the hands of one legislator who shows mercy by allowing your resolution a hearing in committee, and then suddenly you are deluged with support from all over the state and the overwhelming public testimony carries the measure into a tumultuous victory. Or, you may follow this toolkit point by point, and still run up against a legislator who won’t let your resolution out of committee, and the session might end before your plan to move it to a floor vote is able to get off the ground. There’s no guarantee. Only the challenge of grappling with the resources at hand, and fashioning those resources into a state resolution to create one more chink in the armor of the USA PATRIOT Act, and other post 9/11 anti-terrorism measures which have assaulted our Bill of Rights.

So, please use what you can from this toolkit, do your best to extract the richness, and leave what doesn’t fit.

We've divided the basic steps into five stages and provided suggestions and links to helpful resources for each stage. We suggest that you read all the pages below before you start.

Other Resources

State Legislature Web Sites for Research
Fundamentals of Building a State Resolution
Legislative Glossary