Local Law Center

CELDF provides a variety of legal and organizing services to communities, local organizations, and municipal governments.

This includes assistance with drafting local laws, ordinances, and Home Rule Charters; legal research; education and training on how the current structure of law elevates corporate “rights” over the rights of people, workers, communities, and nature; and developing strategies for advancing local democratic and environmental rights.

CELDF developed the legal framework – known as the Community Bill of Rights – which communities across the U.S. are now advancing into law to secure community and nature’s rights, address corporate “rights” and state preemption, and protect communities from threats such as GMOs, pipelines, fracking, and pesticides.

As well, we are working in Home Rule communities to develop Community Rights Home Rule Charters – whereby citizens are writing and adopting their own local governing constitutions that provide a broader platform to secure and protect these rights than a single ordinance.

Below are examples of a Community Bill of Rights draft law developed by CELDF with a local grassroots group in Coos County, Oregon, and a Community Rights Home Rule Charter developed by CELDF with Grant Township, Pennsylvania, residents. The Charter was adopted overwhelmingly by Grant residents in November 2015.

As well, below we provide a sample Sanctuary City Community Bill of Rights law, as growing numbers of communities seek means to protect the rights of all human beings from unjust and illegitimate laws.

We provide these as samples of the kinds of laws we’ve drafted in partnership with grassroots groups and municipal governments.

CELDF works with each of our partner communities and groups to develop a draft law that reflects the needs of that community. Thus, these models are provided for discussion only, and should not be used as a template. Further, these models are not intended as legal advice, as advocating for legislation, and should not be used in your community without consulting CELDF.

Coos County, Oregon

Coos County, OR, wants to protect themselves from the proposed Jordan Cove Export Terminal and the accompanying LNG pipeline cutting through their county, and move towards a viable energy future that doesn’t include fossil fuels. They contacted CELDF, learned about community rights, and determined to advance those rights through the Coos County Right to Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance.

Below is the Coos County ordinance, being advanced for a vote through the initiative process. Contact CELDF to see how we may able to partner with you and your community at info@celdf.org.

Coos County Right to Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance

Grant Township, Pennsylvania

Grant Township, PA, took action against the oil and gas industry to stop a frack wastewater injection well from siting in their community by adopting a Community Bill of Rights Ordinance banning injection wells as a violation of rights. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) sued the Township, and a federal judge overturned portions of the Bill of Rights. The judge’s ruling was based on the Township being governed under the Pennsylvania Second Class Township Code.

Refusing to accept a denial of their rights, the people of Grant chose to become a Home Rule Township. They are the first community in the U.S to draft and adopt a Community Rights Home Rule Charter. The Charter was adopted with 68% of the vote.

With the adoption of their rights-based Charter and “going Home Rule,” the community has reinstated their frack waste injection ban, asserting their right to local self-government, to clean water, and a healthy environment, and prohibiting state and federal governments, as well as gas corporations, from overriding the community’s democratic decision making authority.

Below is the Grant Township Home Rule Charter. Contact CELDF to see how we may be able to partner with you and your community at info@celdf.org.

Grant Township Community Rights Home Rule Charter

Sanctuary City

Growing numbers of communities in the U.S. are responding to Donald Trump’s attack on “undocumented” human beings by seeking to offer sanctuary to those being targeted.

These communities recognize that the Declaration of Independence asserts we are all born equal and with certain unalienable rights. They understand the Declaration was written prior to the creation of the U.S. They realize this founding document was making the case that unalienable rights exist in all of us, just by virtue of being born, and that we create governments like the United States “to secure these rights.”

Below is a draft Sanctuary City law. The ordinance is rights-based, reaffirming and securing fundamental civil rights, prohibiting government profiling, targeting, discrimination, or deportation based solely on perceived or actual immigration status and religious belief. Contact CELDF to see how we may be able to partner with you and your community at info@celdf.org.

Sanctuary City Ordinance