John Lilburne and Eric Ehst could never meet: They belong to different eras. But they have something in common.
Back in the 1600s, John Lilburne worked as a pamphleteer and champion of individual or “freeborn” rights. He pioneered the use of petitioning for redress against government power and abuse.
Lilburne was a term limits guy, too, arguing that members of parliament should not be able to serve for longer than a year at a time. Unfortunately, he spent far too much time in jail; his support for individual rights bugged both the Crown and then Cromwell. Lilburne’s trials sparked the fire that led to our own Fifth Amendment.
Eric Ehst is the award’s first winner, for November 2008.
Ehst, executive director of the Clean Elections Institute, formed a coalition that helped defeat Arizona’s Proposition 105. This measure would have severely hampered Arizona’s initiative process by requiring a virtually impossible majority of all registered voters — not just those voting — to pass any initiative that would raise a tax or fee or that mandated any spending at all, even a postage stamp.
Long ago, John Lilburne struggled to establish the peoples’ right to petition their government. This year in Arizona, Eric Ehst defended that same right.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.