Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great response in Great Barrington

Something is hatching in the 4th Berkshire District, where Scott Laugenour is the GRP candidate for State Representative. Scott and I hit the sidewalks earlier today in Great Barrington and met with a response that was, indeed, great. 

Ready to hatch?
As usual, most of the doors I knocked belonged to people who were not home (or simply hiding from me) but of those who were at home and planning to vote for a particular state rep in November most said they were voting for Scott. With more than four months until election day and little media attention, I found the level of name recognition and early commitment very encouraging.

Going door-to-door and focusing on core GRP themes like Medicare for All, green jobs, renewable energy, and transparency in government, Scott is running a strong grassroots campaign.

When you have a couple of hours to invest in party-building this summer, please spend them campaigning with Scott in the Berkshires. I'm eager to get back out there soon, and hope you can join me. In the meantime, check out Scott's website
Scott campaigning (photo by Susan Geller)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Greening the Law

Do you think the time has come for Green lawyers in Massachusetts to help build the party by forming their own group? If so, please read on; this post is for you.

Establishing a forum within the GRP for attorneys, law professors, and law students could (1) boost party membership in the legal profession; and (2) help the party develop state-level policies that promote greater environmental, social, and economic justice.

Time to organize?
We would not be breaking new ground. The Democrats have been organizing lawyers as lawyers for years. Consequently there are several state chapters of the Democratic Lawyers Council around the country, such as the Utah DLC.  

Political parties in several other jurisdictions also have organizations specifically for lawyers. For example, in the United Kingdom legal professionals and law students who support the left-of-center Labour Party can join the Society of Labour Lawyers.  Similarly, Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) has the Associationfor Social Democratic Lawyers. These organizations provide a two-way conduit, bringing legal issues to the party and representing the party to the legal community.

So what value would GRP Lawyers/Abogados GRP add?  I believe the organization could offer two strong benefits that the GRP currently lacks. 

First, as a form of outreach it would give lawyers a new point of entry into the party. Both academic and practicing lawyers are in short supply in the ranks of the GRP, compared with the Democratic and Republican parties. Of course, some will say that's no bad thing! But putting anti-lawyer prejudices to one side and acknowledging the important role lawyers play in fashioning public policy, it seems wise to recruit more legal professionals. By hosting networking and educational events, GRP Lawyers could help draw sympathetic professionals, professors, and law students into the party.

Second, in the 2014 legislative elections we should be prepared to present the voters with a raft of legislative proposals that our House and Senate candidates would promote if elected. Similarly, our statewide candidates should have a resource to help them explain the powers and duties of the offices they are running for and what they would actually do should they win.  Attorneys and law professors could ensure that those proposals are legally and constitutionally watertight.

Legal practitioners and academics enjoy a unique vantage point for reviewing legislation, and for monitoring and critiquing the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the officers of state government responsible for writing many of the regulations that put flesh on statutory bones. By organizing ourselves within the party, we could help generate policy proposals tailor-made for Massachusetts that are both imaginative and practical. 

From environmental policies and voting rights to banking, corporate law, and consumer affairs, GRP Lawyers could serve as a sounding board and think tank for the party. If the party is serious about achieving greater diversity on the bench as part of our mission to build a more equal, just, and sustainable society, lawyers have an invaluable perspective to share. And through occasional social events and panel discussions the organization could also help like-minded lawyers from different parts of the state connect with one another. We might even have fun.

If you think the time has come to set up Abogados GRP/GRP Lawyers, please add your comment below.