Contact Your Representatives in Congress!

One of the problems any group faces in trying to battle a development threat is that people more than a few miles away often don’t see how the issue concerns them. That’s true even when the development involves the world’s largest corporation. But Padilla v. Lever changes that.

That case [and Jay Imperial’s case], if allowed to stand, will place a cloud of uncertainty over every single recall or initiative effort in the entire Ninth Circuit. [The Ninth Circuit includes California, Hawaii, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana–55 million people, or about 1/5 of the nation’s population].

While the litigation makes its way through the court system, the other branches of government need to be reminded of the broad-reaching implications of that case. They need to know that individuals and groups all across the nation feel threatened by Padilla [and Imperial]. And they need to be encouraged to participate in this litigation, and help to bring the uncertainty spawned by Padilla to an end. So this action item is the first step in our campaign to raise the visibility of this issue.

We need you to contact your member of Congress and your two senators. [It’s a federal issue because a federal judge interpreted a federal law, the Voting Rights Act, to require multi-lingual petitions, even though the law itself does not specifically mention recall and initiative petitions at all]. Make sure they are at least aware of this issue and the threat it poses to citizen groups everywhere.

As for what you want them to do about the issue, there are a number of courses of action you could suggest, and numerous rationales you could point to in justifying that action. To some extent, simply raising the issue’s visibility is the main goal of this action.

Possible arguments: One could argue that the federal courts should not have inserted themselves into the interpretation of state laws governing recall and initiative petitions. One could argue that this is an example of inappropriate judicial activism, because it involves the federal courts giving an interpretation to a federal law beyond the scope intended by Congress. One could argue that, from the simple perspective of fairness, it isn’t fair to change the rules in the middle of an election cycle, and that numerous groups [not just SOC] have been caught up, though no fault of their own, in the fallout from the Padilla litigation.

Possible courses of action you might suggest: You could urge your elected officials to do all they can to either get the Ninth Circuit to conduct an en banc [full panel] hearing, or get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear and clarify Padilla. Emphasize the need for immediate action, because the numerous initiative and recall petition-triggered elections at both the state and local level all across the Ninth Circuit are now in doubt. You could urge that they ask the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in on-going litigation to clarify that the holdings of Padilla were not intended to apply to petitions that were already in circulation.

You can help us even if you do not live in California. Contact your members of Congress and your senators, where ever you live. If you can get your friends or relatives living in other states and districts to write to their members of Congress, that’s even better.

Your message does not have to be long. A short message that is actually sent is infinitely better than a longer and more detailed message that’s sitting on your desk top. Also, an original short message carries more weight than a long but canned message.

If you do not know who your member of Congress is, go to There’s a place on that site where you enter your nine-digit zip, and it’ll tell you who your representative is. [Your nine-digit zip code will be printed on pretty much any piece of junk mail that arrives at your house]. For your senators, go to and click on your state. Each member’s webpage will have directions for how to send them an e-mail.

For most Rosemead Residents:

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein: Los Angeles Office: 11111 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 915, Los Angeles, CA 90025; 310-914-7300

E-mail contact form for Senator Feinstein:

[She’s a two-fer: Both our Senator and a member of the Judiciary Committee. If you only contact one member of Congress, she’s the one you should contact!]

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer: 312 N. Spring St., Suite 1748, Los Angeles, CA 90012; 213-894-5000

E-mail contact form for Senator Boxer:

U.S. Representative Hilda Solis: 4401 Santa Anita Ave., El Monte, CA 91731; 626-448-1271

E-mail contact form for Rep. Solis:

Other links:

List of members on the Senate Judiciary Committee

List of members on the House Judiciary Committee

Contact form for the House Judiciary Committee

If you get a form letter response, don't despair

It's likely that, if you get any response from your elected official, it will be a form-letter response.  That's to be expected; they probably haven't had any body talk to them about Padilla v. Lever and sec 203 in the way that we are bringing the issue to them.  The first few messages [perhaps even the first few dozen messages] will be largely ignored.  It's not until we get a few hundred messages to them that [hopefully] the administrative assistant and/or intern who's screening the e-mails in your legislator's office will bring the issue to the attention of a higher authority.

So keep up the writing!  Try to get at least one or two out every day.