Advocacy groups eager for White House petition website
September 2nd, 2011
03:39 PM ET
11 years ago

Advocacy groups eager for White House petition website

Washington (CNN) – The White House may have opened Pandora's box on Thursday when it announced it would respond to any petition that over 30 days garners at least 5,000 signatures and is submitted through the upcoming White House website "We the People."

Though the White House said the project is a way for the White House to connect with "individuals," a number of advocacy groups have told CNN they plan to use the website to lobby the White House on issues of all kinds.

Some groups have even started working on their petitions.

Ingrid Newkirk, President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, will submit a petition titled, "End Dog and Cat Homelessness Crises in America."

Newkirk said the petition would be ready to go by early next week.

Ronald Halber, executive director of The Jewish Community Relations Council says his organization will submit a petition asking the White House to press Cuba for the release of Alan Gross. "We average about 1,000 signatures a day," said Halber, "so 5,000 would not be difficult for us."

Other large advocacy organizations are excited about the opportunity and plan to use the website in the near future.

Jeffery Davis, AARP national spokesperson said, "We look forward to seeing the new 'We the People' petition platform and finding new ways to get our voices heard."

Amnesty International plans to use the website for issues ranging from closing Guantanamo Bay to increasing foreign aid budgets.

Amaya Tune, media outreach specialist for the AFL-CIO says that the organization looks forward to using the tool to make sure "the voices of middle class working families are included."

For many advocacy groups, 5,000 signatures in 30 days is an easy feat said Mary Boyle, spokesperson for Common Cause. "It would be easy. We could do it in a day," said Boyle.

In a post on the White House blog, Macon Phillips, director of new media, said that all petition responses by the White House will be official and on the record. "If a petition gathers enough support (i.e., signatures) it will be reviewed by a standing group of White House staff," wrote Phillips.

The opportunity to get an official response from the White House is most valuable to smaller advocacy groups, said Alex Koroknay-Palicz, executive director of the National Youth Rights Association, an organization that lobbies the government for more youth rights.

"We certainly don't have the kind of access that larger organizations do," said Koroknay-Palicz. "We have about 10,000 members around the country, so if they all signed the petition it would be no problem, but it doesn't always work like that."

Koroknay-Palicz plans to send multiple petitions through "We the People," including petitions to lower the drinking age, lower the voting age and abolish corporal punishment in schools. He says any response from the White House would help his organization.

After some groups researched the new site, questions arose as to how the new website will affect other forms of submitting petitions.

C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance said, "I would hope that they [the White House] will reassure the public that petitions that don't go through the 'We the People' system will be given equal treatment."

Through a spokesperson, Gaddy said that the Interfaith Alliance has submitted petitions in the past through other channels. He hopes those channels will stay open and that the new website will not devalue the weight of a petition.

"The right of the American people to petition the government is guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution," said Gaddy. "We should not infringe on that right for the sake of expedience."

Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. RonPaul2012

    Five bucks says the White House ignores all petitions.

    September 2, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. NC

    How about a petition to let Alaska become Independent so Palin can become President and the tea party can move to Alaska.

    September 2, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. crooked bridge

    Why must everything be based on an "interest group"? They should call it, "We the idiots".

    September 2, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Let me run it. I have these wonderful ink stamps that say; "Open:Under Review", "Closed:Resolved", "Closed:Unresolved", "Closed:By Design". That last one is my favorite. It is a polite way telling someone dont' call me, I'll call you.

    September 2, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. TEA PARTY Mike

    I think this is a great idea. I mean that seriously.
    I would not be supprised if the TEA Party will organize any number of petitions. I am sure Obama does not expect just progressive minded individuals will take advantage of this great idea.
    I really do like this. This will give the White House a great opportunity to get a better feel for what issues are important to the left, right and those in between.

    September 2, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. logic in LA

    Responding and doing what they ask for are two different things. It's the Presidents job to listen and then do what he feels right.

    September 2, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. FIELD1stSGT

    You just better be glad you were allowed to stay in America. Palin is giant steps ahead of the imbecile Obama. You people seem to be missing brain power. All you can do is like snakes snap at people who are way above your classes feet. What class are you? Very, very, very low. Just look at the grade point averages of your students. You're what is keeping American schools down and can not teach at a level they need to teach. The teachers have to teach to the lowest level of students in their rooms. And buddy four of your students in a room brings the agenda to a stand still. Talk about dumb, you invented the word.

    September 2, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. 2012liberal

    Term limits for congress! Enough said.

    September 2, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Tom

    Can't you see this is an "under the radar" way to gather intelligence? People who get all into "causes" are the most likely to become involved in some type of national security event so this is a great way to builld a database of "activists" that may some day take matters into their own hands.

    September 2, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. Marie MD

    Great idea. Maybe not the President will understand why we want him to stand up to tan man boner, tantrum boy cantor and turtle man mcconnell.
    Then again, the above mentioned individuals, except for the President, only follow what the kock brothers and fat lar limbaugh tell them to do. Wasn't he moving out of the country if Obama was elected? I wait for the day for him to have a heart attack on the air. All that anger and hatred can't be good for you.

    September 2, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. Charles

    Run the GOP out of Dc

    September 2, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Marie MD

    @FIELD1stSGT – my dog can run circles and is smarter than the bimbo from AK. Then again so is my cat and the earthworm I saved this morning.

    September 2, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. Pete

    @Field1stSGT,sounds like std,take Palin and the rest of those hypocrites and put them on an isolated island,far away from normal thinking people,I'll sign that petition.You can captain the boat,BOZO....

    September 2, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. T'sah from Virginia

    @Tea Party Mike

    Doggone it – It's aching me to say that I agree with you!!! I know there will be NO MORE moments like this so I guess I can "enjoy" while I can!!!

    I look forward to gathering thoughts and interest from people I know and hear from and hopefully it will grow to enough numbers to be heard!!

    September 2, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |