LOS ANGELES - In the aftermath of an unprecedented election contest, ultimately decided by a U.S. Supreme Court that openly questioned whether individuals have the right to vote for President, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California Ramona Ripston called for a Constitutional Amendment to guarantee U.S. citizens the right to elect their President.

"We must change our Constitution to make it clear that every American has the right to vote," said Ripston, "and we do not exercise our franchise by the sufferance of our state legislators."

"What we thought was unshakeably secure has been shaken," said Ripston, "and now it must be clearly, fully, and finally secured. Justice Scalia's attack on our right to vote has created a crisis in confidence in our democratic process. We need a Constitutional Amendment that affirms what we have believed to be true for generations: the people, not state legislatures, have the right to elect the President of the United States."

Ripston compared Justice Scalia's comments to antiquated, anti-democratic ideas in the U.S. Constitution which have been altered over time as we have grown into a more democratic society.

"As a result of the 17th Amendment, we now vote directly for our Senators," said Ripston. "As a result of the 14th amendment, African Americans are guaranteed equality, and as a result of the 19th Amendment, women vote. The framers of our Constitution began a process whose completion they perhaps could not imagine. We imagine it today as we broaden our freedoms and secure our rights."

"Today, we call for a 28th Amendment so that our freedom to vote for President will not, in the future, be trifled with, undermined, or subordinated to other considerations," said Ripston. "In order to heal the injuries to our democracy, in order to come together as a people, we must first know that we are guaranteed the right to vote. We call on our elected leaders, we call on President-elect Bush, and we call on all those committed to democracy to rally behind this fundamental right."

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