Letter: Students have right to petition their government

During public hearings involving the state’s budget and its affect on education, Republican State Senator Shawn Hamerlinck of Dixon told some college students that he did not want them coming to Des Monies to petition the committee of which he is a member. He also told them that they should go home and graduate. In dismissing these young people and their concerns, Hamerlinck ended his lecturing sermon by calling for more than their ready compliance; he asked for servile acceptance: “Leave the circus to us, OK?”

No, it is not OK. Hamerlinck does not appear to understand the implications of his having taken an oath of office to uphold the Constitution and the laws made pursuant thereof. These students, like all Iowans and Americans, have a constitutionally assured right to petition their government.

The Iowa Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees that “The people have the right freely to assemble together to counsel for the common good; to make known their opinions to their representatives, and to petition for a redress of grievances.”

This is in accord with The Constitution of the United States of America, which states, “… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Sen. Hamerlinck might want to take note of the motto on Iowa’s state flag: “Our Liberties We Prize, and Our Rights We will Maintain.”