Community Bills of Rights (CBOR) come in a variety of forms, including municipal or county ordinances, home rule charters, charter amendments, state legislation, and state constitutional amendments. The community decides which form to use, depending largely upon the types of local government and the tools for exercising local government allowed by your state constitution. There’s no need to dwell on all these options just now. No matter what the form, there are important elements common to all of them.

A Community Bill of Rights takes nothing for granted except the supremacy of inalienable rights over other laws, and the necessity for challenging legal obstacles to the real-time enjoyment of those rights. Because there are well-established legal barriers to the exercise of the right to local self-government in defense of inalienable rights, each CBOR enacted addresses those obstacles specifically and challenges their legitimacy.

The Anatomy of a CBOR

Preamble: CBOR ordinances generally begin with a statement of principles and grievances that explain why the local law is being adopted.

Definitions: Particular terms and words that are intended to have meaning specific to the CBOR are listed and defined, in order to avoid misunderstanding and to be precise about the intention of the law.

The Community Bill of Rights: A section enumerating specific rights to be secured by the law is included. This is the heart of the CBOR. Each right listed is individually enforceable.

Prohibitions Necessary to Protect the Enumerated Rights: This section identifies rights-violating corporate activities and the government actions that enable them, and both are banned as violations of the local bill of rights. The violation of the rights secured is also prohibited, and permits or licenses issued by governments that purport to legalize rights-violating activities are voided.

Enforcement: There are civil and criminal enforcement provisions included in this section, including municipal enforcement of both, as well as citizen enforcement of the law via the courts. In addition, enforcement of violations of ecosystem rights is spelled out.

Corporate Powers: Constitutional protections of corporations are preserved except for corporations in violation of the rights or prohibitions of the CBOR. Those outlaw corporations forfeit any such legal privileges. In this way, the rights of the community and its members are elevated above the legal powers of corporations in violation of the CBOR.

Existing Permits: Permits that would legalize the violation of rights are voided as of the effective date of the CBOR, regardless of the date of their issuance.
People’s Right to Self-Government: Challenges to the CBOR require the local government to convene public meetings to determine a strategy for restoring rights stripped by the challenge.

State and Federal Constitutional Change: Each CBOR calls for constitutional change at the state and national level that will recognize and enforce the right to community local self-government, free from state preemption and corporate interference when local laws are enacted to protect community rights.

Severability: This section provides that if any section of the CBOR is determined by a court to be illegal and is thus overturned, the rest of the CBOR will remain in effect as though enacted without the stricken section.

Repealer: This section repeals sections of prior local laws in conflict with the CBOR.

Additional Resources