The right to civil dissent is one of the many freedoms given to citizens by the U.S. Constitution. In this representative democracy, every citizen has the choice to speak up about issues she disagrees with. You can follow some basic steps if and when you lobby to change a law.
Speak up and Lobby to Change a Law
Find out who to speak to about the law you want to change. You'll need to know if the law was passed at the municipal, state or federal level. Your town or city council office should be able to tell you when and where the law was passed.
Make a list of each person you want to lobby to have the law changed. Remember, even if it is just a municipal law, you may want to speak with state and federal congressional members. The support of a member of Congress can help further your cause.
Find out if this law will be discussed at any upcoming meetings. Town and state governments keep a record of upcoming meetings. You may be able to find out about the coming meets on the state or town's website or you may have to call the clerk's office.
Get permission from the government to speak at the meeting. Some meetings, especially state ones, may not allow time for public comment. In the case you can't speak on the floor, you'll still want to go to the meeting and try to speak with people before and afterwards.
Contact the relevant government officials. Most town and even some state officials have their home phone numbers listed in the phone book. Before you call, condense and refine your speaking points so that you can get your message across in a short amount of time.
Raise awareness of your lobbying efforts in your community. A short and succinct letter to the local newspaper can increase awareness dramatically if it is printed. You can also try to make signs and post them in heavy traffic areas of town.
- Don't be discouraged if it is hard to reach a government official in his office. Most officials have fairly busy schedules and not all of them return phone calls promptly.
- You may wish to use other methods, like email or regular mail, to reach government officials. If you speak with his secretary, try to set up an in person meeting with the official.
- Be aware of local laws whenever you are posting signs. Public property sometimes has restrictions on the kind of material that can be posted.
- DRW & Associates, Inc