The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Paige Cram, Communications Coordinator, 212-679-5100 ext. 15

National Lawyers Guild Releases Policy Paper on How Corporate Interests Influence State Terrorism Legislation


National Lawyers Guild has issued a policy paper showing the influence
of model legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange
Council (ALEC), a conservative group of state legislators, on state
legislation around the country.

Federal legislation passed in
2006, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), was largely drafted
by ALEC and has drawn a great deal of attention and criticism from
animal rights and environmental activists. The Act which purports to
protect animal enterprises from so-called "eco-terrorists," is a vague
and unnecessarily broad law that has already been used to restrict
First Amendment rights. The Guild's policy paper, Beyond AETA: How
Corporate-Crafted Legislation Brands Activists as Terrorists, explains
that AETA is not unique in this respect. Similar bills have been
introduced in several state legislatures over the last few years, and
most of them stem from the model bill produced by ALEC.

ALEC's model legislation:

Suggests adding the phrase "politically motivated" to the definition of
an "animal or ecological terrorist organization," which clearly shows
that the bill is designed to suppress speech based on its content. -
Defines illegal activity so broadly that anyone using the Internet or
email to plan (or even express support for) an act of "animal or
ecological terrorism" can be charged. - Creates a "terrorist
registry" - an online database open to the public which contains names,
addresses and photos of everyone convicted of "animal or ecological

NLG Executive Director Heidi Boghosian said:
"Although many states considered and outright rejected the ALEC bill
soon after its release, there are still signs that parts of the
legislation are being incorporated in some states' laws that equate
animal rights activists with domestic terrorism. The Guild remains
vigilant in tracking the development of such overly-broad legislation."

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the
oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the
United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in
every state.

Read the policy paper at

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) works to promote human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests. It was founded in 1937 as the first national, racially-integrated bar association in the U.S.

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