Page 6


Postmaster If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 Will the Bill of Rights survive the next four years? The election is over. Now the real challenge begins. Whoever you supported on November 6, and whatever your views on foreign or economic policy, it’s time to acknowledge that your basic liberties are in grave danger for the next four years. The Reagan Record Ronald Reagan came to office in 1981 at the crest of a career avowedly hostile to civil rights and liberties. Elected with the all-out backing of right-wing fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell, in a landslide which also swept into power Darth Vaders of civil liberties like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, President Reagan set out immediately to dismantle years of progress toward a more free and just society. He tried to put government-sponsored prayer back in the public schools. He tried to amend the Constitution to permit states to once again make criminals of women who have abortions and doctors who perform them. He tried to gut the Voting Rights Act, cripple the Freedom of Information Act, and kill legal service for the poor. He started a secret war against Nicaragua, and shamed our basic traditions by boycotting the World Court when Nicaragua sued over the mining of its harbors. He ran roughshod over the First Amendment, forcing over one hundred thousand government employes to sign lifetime censorship pacts, banning travel to certain counties, and blocking visits Io the U.S. by foreign dignitaries whose politics do not pass his Administration’s litmus test. And he hired a fox to guard every chicken coop, entrusting the protection of our rights to those whose only outstanding feature was opposition to the laws they were sworn to enforce. But the President didn’t get everything he wanted. Now he has a chance to finish the job. The Constitution at stake In the last four years, Congress, emboldened by grassroots support from thousands of citizen lobbyists around the country, blocked much of the Reagan anti-rights program. But the President’s sweeping and repressive use of executive powers has gone virtually unchecked, rubber-stamped by a Supreme Court which seems bent on abandoning that body’s historic role as a check on the excesses of government power. And with five of the Justices over 76 years of age, Ronald Reagan is now almost certain to have the greatest opportunity since Franklin Roosevelt to put his personal ideological stamp on the third branch of government. As columnist Texas Civil Liberties Union 600 West 7th. St. Austin, Texas 78701 Enclosed is my contribution of to keep the Bill of Rights intact through the next four years. I want to join the ACLU. Credit my contribution towards membership. $20 Individual $30 Joint More Please send me information on how I can take part in your grassroots lobby for the Bill of Rights Name Address City State Zip Texas Civil Liberties Union Gara LaMarche, Executive Director James Kilpatrick put it: “At stake is the meaning of the Constitution for the next 20 to 30 years.” We don’t yet know who the Reagan justices will be, but we do know that the man who appoints them ran on a platform which calls for screening of judicial candidates to pick only those who “respect life” a code term for opposition to freedom of choice in abortion. What can you do? You can join the American Civil Liberties Union, comprised of hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens, to make certain that the Constitution is not a casualty of the second Reagan term. For more than sixty years, the ACLU has fought the tides of repression which periodically grip America. From the Palmer Raids to the dark night of McCarthyism to the official lawlessness of the Nixon Administration, the ACLU has been there, fighting to uphold the basic American values embodied in the Bill of Rights. Come January, we’ll be back in the Congress and in the Texas Legislature, keeping a close watch on measures which threaten your rights. With Jesse Helms’ new lease on life, and with the defeat of some staunch legislative allies in Austin, the job will be much harder. We’ll continue as the most active private organization before the U.S. Supreme Court, while we blaze new legal trails in Texas in seeking redress for rights violations from state court judges, relying on the guarantees of the Texas Constitution. And perhaps most important, we’ll be vocal and visible in every public forum we can find, working to inform Americans about their rights and the threats to them. For if we don’t understand and use our rights, we will certainly lose them. The Bill of Rights is in crisis. But . Ronald Reagan’s assaults on separation of church and state . . . on equality for women and racial minorities . . . on personal privacy . . . on freedom of expression . . . on these and other traditional constitutional values can be thwarted. But only if you act to meet the challenge of the next four years. Please join us today. 4 NOVEMBER 23, 1984