City Council voted for the measure yesterday.Â This really gets my goat:
“Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?” said Councilwoman Tonya Payne. “This is what’s right to do, and if this means that we have to go out and have a court battle, then that’s fine … We have plenty of dead bodies coming up in our streets every single day, and that is unacceptable.”
So we get to disregard limits on government just because one City Councilwoman things it’s “what’s right to do?”Â There was a time when people thought that holding slaves was the right thing to do.Â We properly did away with that with the 13th Amendment.Â Then some people thought that making African-Americans second class citizens was “the right thing to do.”Â The Fourteenth Amendment, and the several Civil Rights Acts that were passed under its authority, put that sorry bit of history behind us.
Our state and federal constitutions are an individual’s only defense against the predations of politicians who think they know what’s right for other people.Â One thing you shouldn’t do in society that properly limits government power is to create crimes that reverse the burden of proof from the state to the accused, because the authorities just know that a certain person must be guilty.
Straw purchasing is already a serious crime.Â Either the state has the evidence it needs to meet its burden of proof, or it does not.Â What you don’t get to do is to pass another law that allows prosecution to proceed on a technicality, based on an assumption of guilt for the more serious crime.Â Someone who is not guilt of straw buying will end up with a hefty fine, and or will spend time in jail because of this ordinance.Â This is not how our system of justice is supposed to function.