“Imagine if you lived in a country like Russia that has a number of civil rights enshrined in its constitution. If those rights were violated by the government, do you think you could sue to enforce them? Of course not.”
Yet by an oversight, we live in a state where your rights to speak, own a gun or peaceably protest cannot be enforced by our courts under the terms of our own state constitution. Since 1986, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has said that unless the Legislature acts, the courts will not be open to lawsuits to enforce our 1784 Bill of Rights.
Now the Legislature has the opportunity to pass HB 111, which would open our courts to claims to enforce our state constitution. The sponsors are liberals and liberty lovers, from the left to the right politically, united to have more accountability for harms done by government employees.
Put bluntly, what good is a Bill of Rights if you cannot enforce it?
In our republican form of government, all public employees, including police officers, exercise only the powers granted them by the people. All public employees serve the citizens and are accountable to them. That is why our Bill of Rights in Part I, Article 8 reminds us that:
All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them.
Unfortunately, our right of accountability has been denied time and time again in recent years by court decisions making government less and less accountable to individual citizens…
-Former NH Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas (Pass HB 111 to protect our Rights)