The American tradition has been enriched by a commitment to individual and civil liberties. Today, those liberties are under attack, and Pioneer seeks your input on three categories of civil liberties violations:
– The pandemic response. History teaches that during national emergencies, such as wars and pandemics, civil authorities are often willing to exceed — and citizens and residents may be willing to accept — significant trespasses upon our constitutionally guaranteed liberties. As realists, we at Pioneer Institute understand that turning back such rights violations is difficult in the midst of crisis, given that there are many and they occur at various levels of government and across a range of agencies and authorities.
– Bias: Like so many organizations working to advance the public good, the Institute is aghast at the deprivation of life and liberty based on race, color and creed.
– Economic activity: Finally, we seek your engagement in identifying violations of your economic liberties.
Our task now is to raise important issues in the media and with our audiences. Addressing these issues requires a longer-term approach that is armed with data. It is imperative that think tanks lead the way in creating the opportunity and making the case for state legislatures, governors and, on the federal level, for Congress to establish Civil Liberties Commissions that will focus on reasserting our rights and define the protections that guard against violation of individual liberties in the future.
To do this, we need to gather the experiences of Americans across the country: What violations are they experiencing? Where are they occurring? What agency or authority is exceeding its powers?
Pioneer Institute has created a “Respect My Rights” hotline to which citizens can submit complaints and descriptions of violations they have experienced. This web-based tool will be promoted initially in Massachusetts and then across New England and the nation. The online portal will gather, on an anonymous basis, the relevant types, locations, and category of each civil liberties violation, as well as details on such violations and information of the complainant (if that information is volunteered). Our purpose in gathering this information is to create an empirical set of data we can analyze by location and type of violation to inform elected officials and pressure them to create commissions that would review this and other information to apply brakes on institutions that have exceeded their constitutional powers.