January 6, 2010: Veterans for Peace, Chapter 56, and the Green Party of Humboldt Party file an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, supporting the request for an appeal and the defense of the Youth Protection Act. Text of the Amicus Brief is available on the "Resources and Links" page.
December 30, 2009: Cities of Arcata and Eureka file Appellate Brief with Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Government will be notified of the appeal and will be given time to file its brief. Then, sometime within the next few months, the Ninth Circuit will schedule a hearing at which oral arguments will be presented, and the Court will decide whether or not to hear the appeal. Text of Appellate Brief is available on the "Resources and Links" page.
Thinking about a ballot initiative, in 2010, to stop the military recruiting of minors in your town?
Please go to the "Contact Us" page and call or email Dave.
We have new ordinance wording that will better withstand federal challenge.
August 14: The Cities of Arcata and Eureka filed their Notice of Appeal of the June 18th decistion of the US District Court of Northern California, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
July 8: Both the Arcata and Eureka City Councils have approved moving forward to appeal Judge Armstrong's ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court. Lead attorney, Brad Yamauchi, has assured the cities that his firm will continue to provide pro-bono legal services throughout the appeal process. The appeal will be filed by early August, and a response from the court may be expected within 60 days after the filing. See "In the News" page for media coverage.
June 18: Judge Saundra Armstrong issued her ruling in the form of two orders. The first grants the government Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and orders the cities to cease and desist from any enforcement of the ordinances. The second order grants the government Motion to Dismiss the Counterclaims of the Cities.
Attorneys for the cities are considering appeal and will make their recommendations soon. More details to follow...
Orders are on "Resources and Links" page.
On June 9, Federal Judge Saundra Armstrong cancelled the hearing on the DOJ efforts to invalidate the Arcata and Eureka Youth Protection Acts, stating that she had no need to question the attorneys at a public hearing and would rule within a week, based upon the legal filings of the Cities and the DOJ.
We continue to await her decision.
Check out the "In the News" page for recent coverage on the AP wire service, in the Eureka Times-Standard, the SF Chronicle and the Sac. Bee and on Democracy Now!
All legal filings now available on "Resources and Links" page
June 4, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA vs. CITIES OF EUREKA AND ARCATA, CA
UPDATE ON DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EFFORTS TO INVALIDATE THE ARCATA AND EUREKA YOUTH PROTECTION ACTS
On Tuesday, June 9 at 1pm, in Courtroom 3 at the Oakland Federal Courthouse, Federal Court Judge Saundra Armstrong is scheduled to hear oral arguments regarding the Arcata and Eureka Youth Protection Acts. These ordinances prohibit military recruiters from initiating contact with minors for the purpose of recruiting them into any branch of the military. They were approved as ballot initiative Measures F and J, on November 4, 2008 by margins of 73% in Arcata and 57% in Eureka.
Judge Armstrong is scheduled to hear oral arguments on two motions by the United States Department of Justice.
One motion is the plaintiff's (United States') motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, in which the US is arguing that, as a matter of law, Measures F and J are both invalid under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. Such a motion can only be granted if the Court believes that all of the Cities’ arguments in defense of the measures lack any substance worthy of a hearing. A ruling in favor of the Federal Government on this motion would effectively invalidate the ordinances without further opportunity to defend them, subject to possible appeal by the Cities.
The second motion is the plaintiff's motion for Dismissal of the Cities' Counterclaims. The Cities' Counterclaims assert that the United States recruiting practices are themselves invalid because they are in conflict with International Treaty obligations that prohibit the military recruiting of minors. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts, as ratified by the United States Senate, has the standing of the Supreme Law of the Land, on equal footing with the US Constitution and any federal laws regulating military recruiting. The U.S. argues that the Cities do not have standing to bring the counterclaims, based on a lack of harm to the Cities themselves.
Ironically, the U.S. argues this in the face of the recent ruling by Judge Armstrong that the proponents of the initiatives passed by the voters do not have the right to intervene in the case. She based her ruling on the assertion that the Cities are able to present a full defense of the measures without the participation of the proponents in the case. If neither the Cities nor the proponents have standing to defend the measures, then how will the people who voted for them be represented in defending their right to protect youth from the excesses of recruiters?
The Cities have argued that, under the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution, people have a right to privacy and to protect their children from uninvited or inappropriate advances by anyone, including military recruiters. Further, under the Tenth Amendment, they have the right to enact and enforce ballot initiative ordinances.
The City of Arcata is represented by Brad Yamauchi of the San Francisco firm of Minami and Tamaki, LLP, and by the Law Offices of Michael Sorgen, and City Attorney, Nancy Diamond. The City of Eureka is represented by their City Attorney, Sheryl Schaffner, and by San Francisco attorney, Dennis Cunningham. All non-city attorneys are offering their services pro-bono.
Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s hearing, the people of Arcata and Eureka continue to demand that the United States of America “Stop Recruiting Kids!” in their communities.
If you have had first-hand experience with military recruiters initiating contact with minors, please write up a detailed account of your experience, and send it to:
These first-person accounts may be very important to arguments in defense of the ordinances.
Two Northern California Cities Ban Military Recruiting of Minors
On November 4, 2008, voters in Arcata and Eureka, California approved ballot initiative ordinances that prohibit the military recruiting of any person under the age of 18.
Specifically, the “Youth Protection Act” makes it an infraction for any military recruiter to initiate contact with minors, within the city limits, for the purpose of recruiting them into any branch of the military.
The ordinance in no way prevents anyone from choosing to talk with a recruiter if he or she wants to do so.
The idea for the ordinance was hatched over a year earlier, with a small group of activists wondering how people who opposed the use of the U.S. military in so-called “preemptive wars” could act locally to stop such violations of international law. They reasoned that the impact of wars on communities is felt primarily in two ways. First is the financial impact on city budgets and services that is a trickle-down effect of squandering billions of dollars on war. But just as real, and far more tragic for the community, is the recruiting of local people, especially very young people, who become cannon fodder in wars that never needed to be fought.
Recruiters often approach kids in their early teens and expound on the great opportunities that await them in the military, often with no mention of the grim realities of war. Staffing an army by preying on the vulnerability of youth is clearly wrong, and it is an issue which can unite people of diverse political views.
Organizing around this kernel of an idea, a group of local parents, teachers, students, counter-recruiters and activists came together and developed the Arcata Youth Protection Act into a ballot-ready ordinance. In January, volunteers began collecting the 1300 valid signatures needed to place it on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Arcata.
Then a group sprang up in neighboring Eureka, determined to get an identical ordinance on their ballot, but working uphill, with a short time frame, in a city better known as a logging and fishing center than a bastion of progressive politics like Arcata. Amazingly, when the signature-gathering deadline arrived, volunteers in both cities had succeeded in getting the support needed to place both measures on the ballot.
Play "Hey Recruiter"
An active campaign ensued, with a high point of receiving permission from Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame, to use an adapted version of “Another Brick in the Wall,” where a chorus of children sang, “Hey, Recruiter, leave them kids alone!” On November 4, 2008, Measure F in Arcata passed by a 73% landslide, and Measure J in Eureka received 57% approval.
This historic victory is not the end of the story. Thirty days later, on December 4, the ordinances took effect. On December 15, both cities received letters announcing that the Department of Justice, acting on a Department of Defense complaint, was filing suit to invalidate the ordinances, claiming that they violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Proponents of the measure assert that limiting recruiting to those recognized as adults should in no way impede the mandate of Congress to "raise and support armies."
In this “David vs. Goliath” matchup, The City Councils of both Arcata and Eureka have instructed their City Attorneys to uphold “the will of the voters” by defending the measures, at least through the preliminary legal process.
The City of Arcata has a population of approximately 17,000 residents, while the City of Eureka is home to about 26,000. With today’s economic crisis, and their small tax base, neither city has the deep pockets to launch a defense in Federal Court, taking on the U.S. Department of Justice.
Their commitment to defend the measures has been made possible by the offer of pro-bono legal assistance by several well known Bay Area attorneys and law firms. In addition, the proponents of the measures, Stop Recruiting Kids, have retained their own attorney and hope to “intervene” in the case in support of the ordinance.
The attorneys are developing legal arguments for a defense of the ordinance, which in a responsive judicial environment may have a fair chance of success. Funds are needed for court costs, and more than anything else, people everywhere need to know about local efforts to protect youth on the California North Coast.
Hopefully, the courts will uphold the ordinances and other cities will start similar campaigns, with the benefit of knowing the successes and challenges of the Youth Protection Act.
Please read the full text of the ordinance and think about starting a similar campaign in your town. All of the more traditional efforts to counter the ongoing military recruitment of minors should continue, but communities may also want to assert their rights, in their own hometowns, to demand that the military “Stop Recruiting Kids!”