3

Background

In the United States, the NRA's first point in its mission statement talks about its insistence on the defense of the second amendment of the United States Constitution:

To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially with reference to the inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by such Constitution to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use arms, in order that the people may always be in a position to exercise their legitimate individual rights of self-preservation and defense of family, person, and property, as well as to serve effectively in the appropriate militia for the common defense of the Republic and the individual liberty of its citizens

This is also the main lobbying effort of the NRA, to the point where they were the top lobbying group for gun rights since 2005, with two exceptions in 2016 and 2019. They have, in the American zeitgeist, become the most known lobbying group in favor of the second amendment in particular.

Question

There is such a large movement whose mission is based around (in its view) protecting second amendment of the United States Constitution. I was curious if something similar existed for other amendments of the United States Constitution. That is, are there other well known lobbying groups that are close in size to the NRA for who claim to protect another amendment of the Constitution? Given that they aren't THE top lobbying group, I thought there was definitely room for the possibility of this phenomenon

  • @jamesqf. So I was looking for "x group is one of the top lobbying groups associated with the 16th amendment" for example. I guess if there isn't another well known organization centered around just one amendment, then multiple can count for an answer. – isakbob Aug 12 '19 at 11:43
3

Yes. The ACLU actually is larger and protects more than one specific amendment. Additionally, the portion of the constitution that applies to the rights of the people are relatively small compared to the the full body. Generally, the first 10 amendments are written as protections of individual rights (known as the bill of rights), and all other amendments are definitions of who those rights apply, or changes to government's structure or authority.

In the bill of rights, three are safeguards of liberty (Amendments 1-3), four are safeguards of justice (4-8), and two are are protections of unenumerated rights (fancy for things we were too lazy to bother to write) and reserved powers (9-10).

All other amendments to the constitution are further restricting the government in laws with respect to enfranchisement (who can vote) and protection of rights, with the former being more being the bulk of the Civil Liberties Amendments. Of the enfranchisement rights, you have (15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th.) The protection of rights is has only the 13th and 14th amendment, The Enfranchisement offers no further liberties but bars the government from making laws that would prevent people from voting based on: Race, color, and former slave or servent class status (15), sex (19) D.C. residency (for the President of the United States only) (23), Economic Status (24) and sets Age of Enfranchisement as 18 (this was previously set by the states. The reason had nothing to do with setting a universal age which was 21, but to make enfranchisement align with draft age... prior to this, one could be required to fight in a war without even having a chance to vote on the people who can call for a draft) (26).

The 13th Amendment prevents the government from allowing slavery and empowers Congress to penalize slavery in the United States. The 14th amendment is patching up the legal fuzziness that was largely responsible for the Civil War.

In U.S. constitutional law, the U.S. Constitution is defined as rules for the Federal Government, not the state governments (the powers of the state in article four are things a state will give up to be part of the federal government and benefits), which each have their own unique constitution with their own rules of government. To enforce this, the 9th and 10th amendment, when combined created the following situation:*

If the constitution says the Federal Government can do something, then the States or Individuals may not do it. If the Constitution says the Federal Government can not do something, then the Federal Government may not do it. If the Constitution doesn't say the Federal government can or cannot do something either way, then the Federal Government cannot make rules that stop the states or individuals that want to do it.

The problem with this is that, the Constitution binds the Federal Government, but not the states. Thus under this rule, The first amendment blocks laws restricting political speech, but states may restrict political speech. In the case of Slavery, the Constitution had several lines that discussed it (in article IV when discussing representation with respect to censuses), but didn't ban states from allowing it, and didn't empower the feds to regulate it. Thus, States could allow or abolish it to any degree they wanted, and there was nothing the Feds could do about it (save for ban importation of slaves... but they couldn't restrict the sale of slaves or their domestically born children already in the United States. International Trade was Federal power).

The 14th Amendment patched this by changing the rules of the Constitution so that if the Constitution explicitly says in the writing congress cannot do something, than the states definitely cannot do it either. This is important as the 13th Amendment bans congress from enacting laws that allow slavery to exist and must enforce no slavery. Because of the nature of the Bill of writes being written on limits of the Federal Government's authority (Congress may Pass no Laws, The rights of the people shall not be infringed, the executive cannot violate the rights without following these due process, the judiciary must have just cause) 14th applies all 1-9 to the states, by amending 10.

In theory, the ACLU does protect second amendment rights, but they also protect everything else as well. The first Amendment is very broadly interpreted and generally covers most of every liberty (It has five specific limits to the government. Second Amendment has just one). The third amendment is rarely violated, so there's little case law. The second amendment is more controversial than the third, but is more narrow than the first. The controversy is that it does allow for regulation, so long as the regulation does not ban gun ownership outright (under case law read).

What the Feds can do with that and what they can't and what the states can and can't is a huge spectrum if "Ban'em all" is off the table.

There are also specialized lobbies in the United States. For example, there are a few lobbies that protect just the religious freedom aspect of the First Amendments (even from the point of view of a specific religion, such as CAIR, which is Islam specific advocacy or the Anti-Defamation League, which was formerly Judaism specific). Other groups may only support the spectrum of journalism rights, and not care about rights of protest.

The NRA specializing in the second amendment is narrow because there's one specific limit in it. A first amendment can be general or narrow into one of five of the limits, each of which has specifically defined case law. And no one really advocates for the 25th Amendment rights of the people, because the person it affects is the President, and it's really about who gets his job if he dies, so hardly a legal case, but alot of fun for fiction writers to play with the what ifs.

| improve this answer | |
  • This answer blew me away except for one thing. Could you source as many things as you reasonably can here? It sounds compelling, but sources make no doubt where you got your ideas from. – isakbob Aug 12 '19 at 20:52
  • 3
    I've downvoted this answer because it doesn't address the question. While it provides a fair summary of the Amendments to the Constitution, and gives a hat tip to the ACLU, it doesn't describe a NRA-esque organization for the other rights. – Drunk Cynic Aug 12 '19 at 21:36
  • 1
    Two points here. First, the ACLU specifically does NOT defend the 2nd Amendment. Second, when you consider the size of interest groups, you need to consider that (other than the religious right & the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion clause) there are AFAIK no organized & well-funded groups trying to do away with any other amendment, so those amedments don't NEED all that much defense. – jamesqf Aug 13 '19 at 5:11
3

I was curious if something similar existed for other amendments of the United States Constitution. That is, are there other well known lobbying groups that are close in size to the NRA for who claim to protect another amendment of the Constitution?

Not sure about the size, and it's not a foundation (which the NRA is), but the Sixth Amendment Center advocates the use of the sixth amendment.

According to Wikipedia:

The Sixth Amendment grants criminal defendants the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury consisting of jurors from the state and district in which the crime was alleged to have been committed.

The Sixth Amendment Center has the following mission statement:

The Sixth Amendment Center seeks to ensure that no person faces potential time in jail or prison without first having the aid of a lawyer with the time, ability and resources to present an effective defense, as required under the United States Constitution. We do so by measuring public defense systems against Sixth Amendment case law and established standards of justice. When shortcomings are identified, we help states and counties make their courts fair again in ways that promote public safety and fiscal responsibility.

As for whether they are lobbyists, they say they are not, but it may be interpreted that way. From their about page:

Our staff members are not lobbyists, and we do not file lawsuits. Rather, the Sixth Amendment Center serves as the nation’s center of information about the right to counsel. We make this information available as a public service. We encourage you to look around on our website, as more and more content is added daily. Here, we provide the history of and constitutional requirements and national standards for fulfilling the right to counsel. The basic facts and current status of how each state and territory provides, or fails to provide, the right to counsel are available here. You can learn about the status of the right to counsel in America today and specific topics and issues here. And 6AC’s blog, Pleading the Sixth, explains what you’ve just read in the news, providing historical, legal, and standards-based context for the successes and failures in our nation’s ongoing efforts to provide a meaningful right to counsel. If you do not find the answer to whatever question you might have or if you’d like to have us speak to your organization, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. We’re happy to help.

| improve this answer | |
  • Does it lobby? If yes then it doesn't matter that it is just a foundation. – isakbob Aug 12 '19 at 23:36
  • 1
    @isakbob I added a quote, it's hard to qualify specifically. I think you could say they encourage pleading the sixth, but I don't think they lobby politicians in the way the NRA does. – JJJ Aug 12 '19 at 23:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .