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Lawsuit Against Govt Overreach

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This might sound like it's about smoking but it's much more than that.  It's about protecting everyone's interests against government encroachment where, by law, it ought not be.  

When government bureaucracies are allowed to get away with breaking the law, it's the law itself that suffers and, next thing you know, it will 'only' be about some activity you enjoy or some group you belong to."

In May 2012 the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation announced it had taken unilateral action to ban smoking in state parks and beaches without benefit of legislation.

The problem with that was not that a smoking ban in state parks was illegal.  Rather, it was that the Office of Parks had exceeded its authority -- that the ban was imposed by bureaucratic fiat, not legislated law, and on that basis alone, was unconstitutional.

In fact, the New York State legislature has repeatedly declined to pass this specific law for over a decade, as proposed by both houses. At least nineteen bills have been rejected. The Office of Parks, therefore, not only exceeded its administrative mission, not only assigned itself legislative powers, but in fact went against the legislature's will.

My organization, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H. ), sued on those grounds.  

We won

They appealed.  They won .  Sigh.

C.L.A.S.H. is now in the process of filing the next appeal. But C.L.A.S.H. is cash poor.  In fact, in the interest of total transparency, the last round was almost entirely paid for with the private money of its founder, moi, Audrey Silk.  This shouldn't be when the benefit is the protection of all against the whims of unelected officials.  No one's civil liberties are safe if this is allowed to go unchecked.

Worse yet are instances where government bullies you out of defending yourself when challenged by them simply because you can't afford legal representation.  The government then has the nerve to describe it to the media as a "success of [our] lawsuit" as if the case was heard in court.

A favorable outcome reaches beyond the borders of New York state in that this will send a message to non-legislative bodies in jurisdictions across the country that might contemplate doing the same that they cannot violate the rule of law and to step back.  

C.L.A.S.H.'s Attorney Brett Joshpe has said, "This is another example of government run amok in our society. Unelected officials simply cannot create substantive laws and restrict peoples' freedom without appropriate legislative authority. Democracy is as much about process as it is about results, and this is a flagrant abuse of process that we will not allow to go unchecked."

No matter what state you live in, no matter if you smoke or don't smoke, your donation to this legal fund is an investment in your own right to be free from lawless governance. 

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Donations can also be snail mailed to:

NYC C.L.A.S.H., Inc.
P.O. Box 1036
Brooklyn, NY 11234

NYC C.L.A.S.H., Inc., is a not-for-profit grassroots organization established in 2000 dedicated to advancing and protecting the interests of adults who choose to smoke cigarettes or enjoy other forms of tobacco or use electronic cigarettes.  We have never received funding from the tobacco industry (but we'd take it if ever offered).

C.L.A.S.H. has also publicly opposed NYC's ban on trans fat and cap on soda portions.  Because it's the principle that matters more than the object.


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Audrey Silk
Brooklyn, NY

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