We The People?

Monday's metro column digs into the uneasiness in Cheltenham township, where local and county officials have  opposed a question from appearing on next week's ballot that would give the people more power to stop development.

Score a victory for a group called "We the People of Cheltenham," which fought officials in court - and won. The question will go to the voters.

So who ARE those guys behind We the People? What do we know about this non-profit law firm based in Chambersburg, PA., which worked pro bono to create a citizens bill of rights then get it on the ballot?

They're called the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

We know they helped Ecuador write laws to protect the environment by granting rights to nature.

This is what the New York Times wrote last December:

Even so, it is a milestone for environmental organizations that seek to rewrite our treatment of nature. In fact, one such group, the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, helped draft the new protections in the Ecuadorean Constitution. The C.E.L.D.F. posits that most laws define nature as someone’s property, forcing environmentalists to prove extensive damage before regulations can be put in place. A rights-based approach, it argues, reverses that burden, putting the health of ecosystems first.

We also know that C.E.L.D.F. is helping back a broader bill of rights in Spokane, Wa., that would encompass conditions for healthcare, labor and development.

Here's a profile from The Inlander of leading attorney, Thomas Linzey. Can't vouch for the article, though I note it gets the name of the Pennsylvania town he's from wrong.

And here's the group's Web site.