Group That Promotes ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Reportedly Funded by Microsoft, Amazon, Dell, AT&T, Dozens More
ALEC sponsors also include American Express, Bank of America, Bayer, Frito-Lay, Fruit of the Loom, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Nestle, Pepsi, Sara Lee, Visa, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Wendy's and more

map-states-w-stand-yr-ground-laws

It has rightly become the subject of outrage nationwide that George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., was not arrested last month after he allegedly stalked and killed a teenager, Trayvon Martin, whom Zimmerman apparently believed to be a neighborhood prowler.

Zimmerman is free because of a “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida that grants anyone who feels threatened with the right to hurt or kill anyone whom they perceive to be dangerous, regardless of whether the purportedly threatening person is armed. Trayvon Martin, for example, was carrying a package of Skittles and an iced tea.

USA Today reports that “Stand Your Ground” laws have been passed in 21 states:

The laws — in places such as Texas, Idaho and Alaska — allow everyday citizens to use deadly force against someone else if they fear for their life. They also say people do not have to retreat if threatened or attacked…

Police have said officers were prohibited from arresting Zimmerman because he claimed to have used “justifiable” force.

The case has triggered a wave of public outcry to change or repeal Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

“You want to know how you can kill somebody legally in Florida?” says Arthur Hayhoe, executive director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Make sure you have no witnesses, hunt the person down and then say you feared for your life.”

Hayhoe says he has about a dozen cases on his desk now similar to Trayvon’s case. He says in those cases, gunmen say they were defending themselves and have not been charged, leaving grieving relatives to wonder why the shooters have not been charged.

It is not surprising that “Stand Your Ground” laws are promoted by the NRA. The NRA is pro-gun at any cost, and that’s just what they do. But, according to the watchdog group, Media Matters, these laws are also being promoted by an uber-right wing, corporatist front group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

ALEC drafts generic pro-business, anti-environmental, anti-reform, anti-working and middle-class legislative language into boilerplate documents that it provides to ideologically extreme Republican state legislators around the country. These legislators submit the generic ALEC documents as bills to their GOP-controlled state legislatures, where they usually pass on party-line votes.

Over the past few years, states across the country — but particularly in the South and Midwest — have become awash in hundreds of right-wing agenda-driven, copy-cat ALEC laws, a fact that hardly anyone in the corporate media or the general public has noticed, so far.

Media Matters compared the language of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law with the ALEC boilerplate:

Florida’s statute on the use of force in self-defense is virtually identical to Section 1 of ALEC’s Castle Doctrine Act [PDF] model legislation as posted on the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). According to CMD, the model bill was adopted by ALEC’s Civil Justice Task in August 2005 — just a few short months after it passed the Florida legislature — and approved by its board of directors the following month.

Just as it is not surprising that the NRA is behind the “Stand Your Ground” laws, the fact that the Koch brothers, funders of the tea party astroturf mobs, are major supporters of ALEC is also hardly a shock.

What is surprising is that among ALEC’s dozens and dozens of corporate sponsors are some of the biggest consumer brands in the United States — from Microsoft to American Express, from Dell to Sara Lee and from AT&T to Mary Kay Cosmetics.

You’ll find a complete list of ALEC’s sponsors at this link, but here are just a few of the corporations that are funding ALEC’s extreme corporatist agenda:

Amazon
American Express
AmericaWest Airlines
Anheuser-Busch
AT&T
Bank of America
Bayer
Coca-Cola
Comcast
Coors
Dell
FedEx
Ford
Frito-Lay
Fruit of the Loom
GEICO
General Electric
General Mills
General Motors
HP
Intuit
JC Penney
Kentucky Fried Chicken (Parent)
Mary Kay Cosmetics
Microsoft
Miller Brewing
Nestle USA
Outback Steak House
Pepsi Cola
Pizza Hut (Parent)
Sara Lee
SBC
Seagrams
Sony
State Farm
Taco Bell(Parent)
Time Warner
The Travelers
TRW
United Airlines
UPS
Variety (Parent)
Verizon
Visa
Walgreens
Wal-Mart
Wendy’s

ALEC’s success has bred imitators, of course. A case in point is Americans United for Life, which is responsible for drafting the boilerplate language for the the ultrasound “shaming wand” bills that were passed in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas and elsewhere recently, according to report from Addicting Info:

Currently seven states have enacted mandatory ultrasound laws and at least another eighteen states are considering similar bills. When one digs a little deeper, some interesting details emerge. In a report released by the Sunlight Foundation today, it was found that several of the bills share the same language. Using SuperFastMatch, an automated textual analysis program, it was found that there was an overlapping of text in several of the ultrasound bills and in some cases, entire passages were identical. Sometimes the wording is minutely changed, which causes the program to pass by those passages. However, a little human intervention reveals that the bills are identical except for those small differences. Here are two examples that were cited in the report:

Alabama SB12:

MEDICAL EMERGENCY. A condition which, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. No condition shall be deemed a medical emergency if based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

Oklahoma SB1274:

“Medical emergency” means a condition that, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman that it necessitates the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which the delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. No condition shall be deemed a medical emergency if based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

If this looks like boiler-plate language has been applied, that’s because it has. As reported by John Nichols in The Nation, the right-wing organization the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has assembled an entire catalog of model bills that are available to Republican legislators in a blatant effort to impose their right-wing agenda on the states. The model bills represent a wish list of the right-wing and they are hell-bent on making their wishes come true.

If you’re just finding out about ALEC, you should read Nichol’s groundbreaking report “ALEC exposed.” There is also a website that tracks ALEC’s activities, ALECexposed.org, but it was offline as of early Thursday morning.

12 Responses »

  1. Jim March 22, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

    ==Police have said officers were prohibited from arresting Zimmerman because he claimed to have used “justifiable” force.==

    The thing that everyone seems to be glossing over is that Zimmerman started the confrontation. The young boy was trying to stay away from Zimmerman.

    If the boy had been tailing Zimmerman then he (zimmerman) could claim that he feared for his life. But it was the other way around. That should be enough to allow the police to arrest Zimmerman.

  2. eat more kale March 23, 2012 @ 2:43 am

    of course both sides of this debate will oppress the most powerless folks. on the one hand, overwhelmingly `self-defense` violence is actually just race terror or class terror. and `self-defense` exceptions or no, if you kill or harm the wrong person, you’ll surely still join 2.5 million U.S. residents behind bars. at same time, patterns of prosecution for self-defense violence will also inevitably reflect power relations outside the court room. if the designated internal enemy group this year were Danish people, we’d suddenly hear about an epidemic of Danish self-defense violence and about the laws that improperly protect that violence.

  3. Catherine Bridges March 23, 2012 @ 8:59 am

    I am a white female and the “Stand Your Ground Law” scares the heck out of me As a person who works out in the field for my company. I am in all types of neighborhoods and am required to approach homes unannounced. The idea that another human being could shoot and kill me or anyoneband have to answer to no one just baffles the mind. I am just wondering if the other person is dead how does anyone know what truely happened? This law takes away the rights of the person shot with out due process. This is just crazy!!!

  4. Jonathan May 24, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    Well reading this was useless, and did nothing expect to increase the idiocy of the liberal media and those who support it.

  5. Mark Sevigny August 15, 2012 @ 6:03 am

    California is a “stand your ground state” and and a person is not required to retreat in the face of an attack.

    The jury instructions for criminal trials make that clear. CALCRIM 505 [Justifiable Homicide] states, in part, that when a defendant is faced with imminent danger of great bodily harm or death, “[t]he defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her own ground and defend himself or herself, and if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of great bodily injury/death has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.” [See also CALCRIM 3470 General Self-Defense] The burden of proof is upon the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the killing was not justified. See also Penal Code Section 197.1.

    The right to use deadly force in self-defense is part of Penal Code Section 197.1., which dates back to 1872. The “stand your ground” aspect of self-defense in California law has long been accepted in California courts in dozens of cases. To note just a few of the California cases:

    In 1882 the California Supreme Court in People v. Ye Park, 62 Cal. 204 at 209, reversed a conviction of assault with intent to commit murder, upon the grounds that the jury was erroneously instructed that the defendant had a duty to retreat to a place of safety, and was not instructed that the defendant had a right to “stand his ground” and use any reasonable force, including deadly force to defend himself.
    In 1895 The California Supreme Court stated in People v. Hecker, 109 Cal. 451, 467 [42 P. 307, 30 L.R.A. 403], “The right to stand one’s ground should form an element of the instructions upon the necessity of killing and the law of self-defense.”

    In People v. Newcomer, (1897) 118 Cal. 263, 273 [50 P. 405], the California Supreme Court again held that, “when a man without fault himself is suddenly attacked in a way that puts life or bodily safety at imminent hazard, he is not compelled to fly or to consider the proposition of flying, but may stand his ground and defend himself to the extent of taking the life of the assailant, if that be reasonably necessary”.
    By the time of the court decisions in People v. Hatchett (1942) 56 Cal. App. 2d 20, and People v. Hughes (1951) 107 Cal. App. 2d 487, it is a “well-established principle” of California law.

  6. Jon August 15, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

    Mark, California’s law has been in place for over a century. SFGate:

    For more than a century, the state’s judges have declared that a person who reasonably believes he or she faces serious injury or death from an assailant does not have to back off – inside or outside the home – and instead can use whatever force is needed to eliminate the danger.

    The California Legislature has never enacted one of the National Rifle Association-sponsored laws, pioneered by Florida in 2005, that spell out the rights of a defendant in such confrontations and the procedures for applying them in court. But in California, the judicial rulings had much the same effect. The rulings are binding on state courts and are reflected in judges’ instructions to juries in cases involving claims of self-defense.

    The instructions say a person under attack is even entitled, “if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of death or great bodily injury has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.”

    Most states had similar rules until 30 or 40 years ago, when some passed laws barring a claim of self-defense outside the home if the person could have fled safely, said Andrea Roth, a UC Berkeley law professor. She said almost all states still allow the use of deadly force against home intruders.

    “California’s law perpetuates the old frontier rule,” she said. “This is not some new brainchild of the NRA.”

  7. Trish Ponder August 15, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

    Jon, that article says Florida pioneered such laws in 2005 but I think ours was based on the Texas “castle doctrine” law already in place for a decade, with new impetus courtesy of the NRA and Gun Owners of America.

  8. [...] Zimmerman cleared in shooting of Trayvon Martin -Associated Press White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman -The Nation Group That Promotes ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Reportedly Funded by Microsoft, Amazon, Dell, AT&am… [...]

  9. Four Minutes July 15, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

    [...] Your Ground, an ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) law developed by a right-wing think tank and supported by big money was voted in by a majority of red [...]

  10. scotto July 23, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    What is being left out of this argument is that the dead boy came after and attacked Zimmerman trying to kill Zimmerman. That is why he is dead. If he would not have attacked Zimmerman, we would not be here discussing the matter.

  11. Jon July 23, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

    Scotto: You said, “…the dead boy came after and attacked Zimmerman trying to kill Zimmerman…”

    First of all, that’s not possible. Dead people can’t attack other people, except in zombie and vampire stories.

    But what you were actually trying to say makes no sense either. Zimmerman was stalking Martin with, as it turned out, a loaded gun. Martin had a right to self defense, too, but the jury nullified Martin’s right to self-defense and in fact convicted him, the murder victim, of the attempted murder of his own killer! That makes no sense, and it is just simply wrong.

    What makes it worse is that anyone who is not blinded by their own racism can see that if Martin had been a white kid and Zimmerman had been a black man stalking him with a loaded gun who then shot him dead, black Zimmerman would be look at at least a 20 year stretch right now.

  12. [...] About thirty states have passed some express version of a Stand Your Ground law since Florida passed the first in 2005. These states are primarily located in the South and in the some western states (Arizona, Texas). The latter is not surprising and the “stand your ground” concept is deeply-rooted in Western-American culture.  source (http://www.pensitoreview.com/2012/03/22/group-that-promotes-stand-your-ground-laws-funded-by-consume… [...]

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