It’s rare you actually see a prosecutor bring the charge of Official Oppression, but they have done it Philly. The offense? A police officer who was flagged down by a woman picked her up and raped her in the back of his cruiser. Other charges stemming from the incident include 5 counts ranging from indecent exposure to rape.
Month: August 2011
14th Amendment, Courts or Congress
This started with a brief Twitter exchange between myself and AntiTango, about whether or not we want Congress involved in enforcing the 14th Amendment through creating a national reciprocity requirement, or whether we should get it through the courts.
I’ll start off by saying that we’re not getting carry in any of the remaining hostile states or localities, save maybe Illinois, without some kind of federal intervention, either through the Courts or through Congress. California, nor Maryland, nor New Jersey are going to pass right-to-carry legislation on their own; it will have to be forced on them through federal action, one way or another. I think it needs to be a combination of the courts and Congress. I don’t think one or the other will suffice.
It would be relatively easy for the courts to impose on, say, California, for instance, that they have to issue licenses in a manner that is not arbitrary or capricious, effectively rendering them shall-issue. I think it’s a tougher sell to suggest the courts impose a national scheme for license recognition. The former only requires striking down a portion of California’s licensing law, while the latter actually requires the courts to enact policy, which I think they would be reluctant to do. I think imposing universal licensing recognition is actually a pretty good use of Congress’ powers under the 14th Amendment.
There is some precedent that makes that use questionable, and shouldn’t be overlooked, but overall, I’d prefer to put the courts in a position where they’d have to thwart the will of Congress, rather than putting them in a position where we are asking them to formulate a national scheme through which licenses would be recognized. It would be far easier, I think, for the courts to uphold licensing, but require the states to issue to non-residents, as a means of satisfying the constitutional requirement. For a lot of reasons, I don’t think this is as ideal as just having forced recognition. The Courts could also prevent states from enforcing those requirements for non-residents, but that seems inconsistent, and I doubt they’d be willing to do that as well.
The argument can be made that Congressional Acts are easier to overturn than precedent, but I would note that our opponents have had zero luck, in the 42 states that have passed RTC so far, of reversing or limiting that policy, and it’s been two decades now. While it’s true that over the long term, it’s hard to predict, but precedent could also be overturned over the long term as well. I don’t think either route is a sure thing, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. I’m not very fussy about the tool, as long as the job gets done.
A Push for National Right to Carry
From Chris Cox, in the Daily Caller. Because this uses Congress’ 14th Amendment powers, I’m in favor of this legislation, as I believe it’s within the federal government’s powers. It does also use the commerce power, but in cases like this, when people could be facing arrest, with states choosing to challenge rather than obey, you want to have all your bases covered.
It sets up an interesting conundrum for left-leaning judges too. Currently the “herpes theory” of the commerce clause is the power that enables federal felon-in-possession laws. It’s never been used the other way, that is to enable gun rights rather than remove them. While I’d like to see the herpes theory relegated to the dustbin of history, part of me doesn’t mind extending this legal middle finger to the people who created this power, using it in a way they are probably horrified over.
Government at Work: Losing Money Selling Booze
Capitol Ideas has reported on an Auditor General’s report on the PALCB’s wine kiosk program. This was a failed attempt to try to sell wine in supermarkets, which most other states do without losing a bunch of money. This boondoggle has now even reached the desks of Reason Magazine, who is also reporting on it:
When they are working, the kiosks dispense a limited selection of wines at limited locations and times (not on Sunday, of course!) to customers who present ID, look into a camera monitored by a state employee, breathe into a blood-alcohol meter, and swipe a credit card.
It’s a system only a bureaucrat could love, and as soon as these things started getting introduced, I thought it had “Fail!” written all over it. If you essentially say I have to take a drug test to buy something, you can bet I’m not going to buy it.
I’m glad this issue got the attention of Instapundit, because currently, privatization of the liquor monopoly is being held up by non other than our Republican Senate President, Joe Scarnati, so if you support ending the socialist liquor monopoly in Pennsylvania, I would advise contacting his office, and tell them you want the Senator to move the liquor privatization bill forward.
Joe Huffman notes that there need to be consequences for government officials who break the law. I’ve always wondered why we imported the concept of sovereign immunity to the United States. I realize that this is derived from common law, and thus predates the United States, but the revolution upended a number of our legal institutions, yet we chose to preserve this one.
I can understand, for instance, why you shouldn’t be able to sue your legislator for passing a law that you don’t like, but it seems to me that we should have taken the concept and reversed it. Currently, government and its officials have immunity from suit except for where sovereign immunity has been waived. The Fourteenth Amendment (which, when you think about it in its entirety, was really quite radical in terms of how it restructured our federal system) waived this immunity under some circumstances for states, which brought us legal constructs like qualified immunity.
But it always struck me that you ought to be able to sue your government except where it says you can’t, and not the other way around. If I were constructing a legal system from scratch, I would use this as a concept, instead of Sovereign immunity. If the government is going to tell the people they can’t seek redress in the courts, the people ought to have a say about it.
The Chicago Way
One of the big reasons I never would have voted for Obama, even if he was a genuine moderate, is that he’s from Chicago, where the politics is so corrupt it makes Philly look good in comparison. The kind of tactics being used against Gibson Guitars, I think, are classic Chicago tactics. What did people think was going to happen putting someone from that machine in the White House?
Trouble in California
CRPA is urging people to call the Governor’s office to veto SB 819, which would allow the DOJ to raid the background check fund to pay for enforcement of firearms laws and violence reduction programs. The concern is that this will run the system out of money and lead to fee increases.
This is not a futile effort, as Jerry Brown is friendlier on this issue that you might think. Friendlier than Schwarzenegger was. But this is a good test to put him to, so call. Your constitutional rights shouldn’t be used to help government raise money generally. That amounts to a tax on gun ownership, which ought to be unconstitutional.
B. Todd Jones to Take Over ATF
Obama is naming B. Todd Jones as interim ATF director. I thought Melson’s reassignment was going to mean Traver would be in, but I guess Obama decided he was too controversial. Good, in that case, since it means he’s paying attention. I’ve been able to find nothing worrisome about Jones. If anyone out there finds anything, let me know.
Here’s an interview with Jones on Minnesota Public Radio. He says he wants to refocus ATF on its core mission, which in his mind doesn’t seem to involve promoting unlawful trafficking of firearms to Mexico. This is a good thing. He also says he does not want this job full time. I don’t blame the guy. He will continue to serve as US Attorney for Minnesota. Sounds like he plans to do some telecommuting, so I think at best his role at ATF could be described as a part time job. This guy has certainly kept a pretty low profile, so I can understand why the Administration picked him.
Issa’s Response to F&F Reassignments and Resignations
From Rep. Daryl Issa:
While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department. There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted and offer an opportunity for the Justice Department to explain the role other officials and offices played in the infamous efforts to allow weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels. I also remain very concerned by Acting Director Melson’s statement that the Department of Justice is managing its response in a manner intended to protect its political appointees. Senator Grassley and I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers in order to ensure that a reckless effort like Fast and Furious does not take place again.
Seems he’s worried they are setting up some fall guys.
Stopping Piracy With Armed Citizens
This article on how armed security are helping fight piracy off the coast of Somalia hits on many themes, such as the police (or navy, in this case) can’t be everywhere at once, and how difficult it is to distinguish between fisherman and pirates (the ones shooting at you are the pirates, but by then you’re already under attack):
That means the warships can only react to attempted hijackings, racing to interveneÂ afterÂ the sea bandits attack. It isnâ€™t enough. Apparently harmless vessels can turn hostile in mere minutes. With more than 2 million square miles of ocean to patrol and 25,000 commercial ships a year to protect, the 30 warships are spread thin â€” and are usually too far away to respond in time. No wonder successful hijackings of large vessels held steady at around 50 per year for three years, despite the escalating naval patrols. â€œThese guys [pirates] are making more money, weâ€™re spending more money,â€ lamentedÂ piracy expert Martin Murphy.
In addition to pursuing a doomed military strategy, the worldâ€™s governments dragged their heels on what seemed like the common-sense approach to beating pirates. A few armed guards should be sufficient to defeat a pirate attack, but allowing weapons on board civilian ships requires new regulations, which governments were slow to write.
And surprise, surprise, it’s worked. Read the whole thing, as the article is quite good. The problem is most world governments are more concerned about the pirates human rights than they are about stopping them. Ships under attack can actually start making piracy hazardous for the pirates, by killing them in self-defense. Piracy was stamped out in the 19th Century, as it previously was Royal Navy practice to hang pirates. As the article concludes “Self-defense succeeded where the worldâ€™s navies failed.”
The evidence continues to pile up that our opponents are completely wrong about the utility of armed self-defense as a deterrent to crime.
Hat tip to Chris from AKÂ for the story.