The City of Arcata in February filed a federal lawsuit against the United States government and the U.S. Department of Defense to defend a voter-approved referendum protecting minors against abusive military recruiting.
Minami Tamaki LLP partner Brad Yamauchi and the Law Offices of Michael S. Sorgen, representing the City of Arcata pro bono, asked the federal courts to uphold the Youth Protection Act and issue an injunction prohibiting military recruiters from recruiting children under the age of 17.
Arcata, a California coastal city near Eureka, Calif., and 279 miles north of San Francisco, was forced to file the lawsuit to ensure that the city’s Arcata Youth Protection Act would not be nullified by a lawsuit filed in Dec. 2008 by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Arcata Youth Protection Act is intended to protect minors in Arcata from overly aggressive and abusive military recruiting tactics by prohibiting any person from initiating contact with a minor in Arcata for the purpose of military recruitment. It does not prevent minors from initiating contact with military recruiters. The Act was passed by 73 percent of Arcata voters last November.
The injunction specifically cites the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts, which was adopted by the U.S. Senate in Dec. 2002, and prohibits the U.S. government from recruiting minors into the military.
“The Protocol is an international treaty which was adopted by the U.S. Senate, and as such, is the law of the land as provided for in the U.S. Constitution,” said Yamauchi.
“The citizens of Arcata fully support and greatly respect the men and women who have chosen to put themselves in harms way by serving in our military forces, but they also firmly believe that they have the fundamental right to protect their children from abusive and misleading recruiting tactics,” Yamauchi added.
The pro bono legal representation of Arcata in the lawsuit is especially critical, given the city’s small size of approximately 17,000 residents and the city government’s extremely limited financial resources.
Yamauchi is a former Assistant Regional Civil Rights Attorney in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a former staff attorney for the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission in San Jose, Calif.
A federal judge in June ruled in favor of the government against the cities, but the government and Eureka and Arcata have all decided to pursue appeals.