Monday, January 31, 2011
The Ninth Circuit has been a bastion of left-wing judicial activism for years. The impact of ideology has been transparent; respect for precedent has been invisible. The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously reversed a recent series of Ninth Circuit decisions. It appears that the badly divided Supreme Court agrees on one thing--the 9th Circuit has to follow Supreme Court precedent and guidance.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Although every knowledgeable person knows that Constitutional rights (incl. Second Amendment) are not absolute, and that there will always be frivolous or marginal lawsuits filed, I think this one is a reasonable challenge. Note that if this were a private landlord, the Second Amendment would not apply. I am somewhat reminded of the cases where public housing development dwellers were subjected to firearms restrictions and sued and won.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Judge overturns poorly written Calif. ammo law. The Second Amendment is moving forward slowly, but there will be many public officials who too easily forget that the Second Amendment is part of the Supreme law of the land which takes precedence over their ideology. As the authoritarian Left tries to strike back, I think we can also expect to see more harassment of gun owners who are trying to follow the maze of complex gun laws. However, both sides in the debate need to remember that like all constitutional rights, the Second Amendment is not absolute.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Two more officers make the utlimate sacrifice for us. RIP. Under federal law, and probably under Florida law, it was unlawful for this convicted felon to possess a firearm or purchase a handgun. As usual, gun control doesn't work against the people that we need to control.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
One of my biggest gripes is about the numerous politicians and people (on both the Left and Right) who seem to think that their personal opinion should take preference over the U.S. Constitution--which is the supreme law of the land. IMHO, one of the worst examples,is Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer whose "living constitution" and other wacko theories are an insult to anyone who takes the Constitution seriously. I've been going after the Left heavily recent for their ignorance, and lack of respect for the Second Amendment. However, many on the Right suffer from the same blindness and they also need to be called on it. Birthright citizenship is established by the Fourteenth Amendment and made clear by the Supreme Court in a number of cases. Yet, many ideologues on the Right seem to think they can get around this by legislative slights-of-hand. Perhaps they have forgotten, like many on the Left, that federal and state legislation must conform to everything in the Constitution.--not just the parts we like. One Republican Congressman (see link) stated that these birthright children of non-citizen parents might come back to the U.S. later and "blow us up." He is trying to defeat the 14th Amend. with legislation. Get a grip dude!
Monday, January 17, 2011
DNA testing has created a revolution in crime-fighting and convicting the guilty. It has also created a revolution in freeing innocent people. Innocence projects of various types have sprung up all over the nation. There are at least 3 in Texas. Here's a good state-by-state list with links.
Ideologues and propagandists on both the Left and Right never miss a tragedy that they can't try to spin. The Tucson tragedy has spawned attacks on Sarah Palin, guns, gun ownership, Arizona's "lax" gun laws, First Amendment and Second Amendment freedoms, etc., etc., etc. Gun control authoritarians are having a field day. The headline is misleading, but here is an example. A good response to this kind of sloppy thinking is this one.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Justice finally may be coming to Winkler County, TX. In a case that would have made Judge Roy Bean proud, two nurses who reported a doctor to the Texas Medical Board were indicted and one was tried. Anyone with any sense could have smelled a rat. The jury had enough sense to acquit the nurse who was tried. The county was sued and paid out $750,000. A princely sum for a small, sparsely populated West Texas County. The doctor,a former Winkler County Hosp. administrator, the county attorney and Sheriff were recently indicted for their roles in the case against the nurses. Just another example of poor quality of people we frequently find serving in public office. Perhaps the rule of law will find additional vindication.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Believe it or not, the "COMPLETELY REBUILT NEW, NEW NEW EVERYTHING" 1984 Ford Bronco II 4/4 is still for sale. In fact, it's been reduced. I'd scap it up, but I'm looking for a completely rebuilt Ford Pinto. Seriously, I'm saving for a Porsche 911 Turbo S. I figure that by the time I turn 88 I should be able to afford a used one and the gas for it. P.S. What's your current "dream car?" (Please, no tree-huggers raining on my parade and don't say your dream car is a 1984 Ford Bronco, LOL).
In the wake of the Tucson tragedy, increased security is now a hot topic. It never ceases to amaze me how people with little risk of attack (incl. those who carry weapons as part of their job, who live in high security buildings, have bodyguards, or live in low crime areas) seem to think that other people arming themselves for protection is a bad idea. This of course make sense given that no matter where you are in the social structure, you almost always have more to fear from those below you in the social structure. On another level, It's amazing how ordinary law-abiding citizen has become a member of the "dangerous classes," to those opposed to people exercising their Second Amendment rights. Further, the more we force people to become dependent on government, the less they will question government tactics and violation of civil liberties.
Saturday, January 08, 2011
One NOPD officer who admitted lying to the FBI in the Henry Glover case has resigned. His admission confirms what many already suspect--some officers in some agencies abide by a code of silence forbidding officers from giving information that could damage other officers. The code of silence makes it very difficult to convict officers,clean up agencies and win civil lawsuits. Other officers involved in the Glover case and cover up also seem to be on the way out. Let's hope this is the beginning of real change in NOPD.
Friday, January 07, 2011
D.C. has a horrendous homicide rate, but, IMHO D.C. seems to be run like a police state, at least for those in high-crime neighborhoods. D.C. has, or has had, some of the most intrusive/repressive laws on the books, that are found if few, if any other cities (e.g. complete ban on civilians having handguns in their homes for defensive purposes) Very few cities are as controlling as D.C. I am not talking about anti-terrorism or national security concerns. I am talking about measures aimed at ordinary, but very serious, crime. The tactics described below in the Mills v. D.C. case 571 F.3d 1304 (at 1306-9) seem more appropriate for U.S. military forces in Iraq or Afghanistan than for police in the “land of the free.”) “The neighborhood safety zone (NSZ) program was created by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in response to the violence that has plagued the Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast Washington, D.C. for many years. Before this case arose, Trinidad had recently been the scene of twenty-five assaults involving firearms, five of which resulted in deaths, and six of which involved the use of vehicles. Shortly after a triple homicide in the Trinidad neighborhood on May 31, 2008, the MPD designated a portion of the neighborhood an NSZ. Pursuant to MPD Special Order 08-06, issued June 4, 2008, MPD implemented the program and erected eleven vehicle checkpoints over the course of five days at locations around the perimeter of the NSZ. This first implementation of the checkpoints took place from June 7 to June 12, 2008. On July 19, 2008, nearly a month after appellants commenced this action in the district court, the Commander of MPD's Fifth District, in response to a series of violent attacks that morning in Trinidad, requested and was granted approval for another NSZ in the Trinidad neighborhood. This second implementation of the NSZ program [***3] originally was to run from July 19 to July 24, but was extended until July 29, 2008. During the first implementation of the NSZ program, Special Order 08-06 set forth the parameters of the program. According to the Special Order, the original primary purpose of the program was "to provide high police visibility, prevent and deter crime, safeguard officers and community members, and create safer District of Columbia neighborhoods." This Special Order also governed the police officers' conduct at the checkpoints during the first [*1307] [**224] implementation of the NSZ checkpoint program. According to the Special Order, motorists were to receive advance notice of checkpoints, which were to be marked with signs around the borders of the NSZ as well as "barricades, lights, cones, and/or flares." Officers were to stop all vehicles attempting to gain access to the NSZ area. Officers were not to stop vehicles attempting to leave the NSZ area without particularized suspicion. Officers also were not to stop individuals seeking to enter the NSZ area on foot. When motorists attempting to gain entry into the NSZ area were stopped at the checkpoint, officers were required to identify themselves to motorists and [***4] inquire whether the motorists had "legitimate reasons" for entering the NSZ area. Legitimate reasons for entry fell within one of six defined categories: the motorist was (1) a resident of the NSZ; (2) employed or on a commercial delivery in the NSZ; (3) attending school or taking a child to school or day-care in the NSZ; (4) related to a resident of the NSZ; (5) elderly, disabled or seeking medical attention; and/or (6) attempting to attend a verified organized civic, community, or religious event in the NSZ. If the motorist provided the officer with a legitimate reason for entry, the officer was authorized to request additional information sufficient to verify the motorist's stated reason for entry into the NSZ area. Officers denied entry to those motorists who did not have a legitimate reason for entry, who could not substantiate their reason for entry, or who refused to provide a legitimate reason for entry. Motorists who failed to provide sufficient information were refused entry into the neighborhood in their vehicles, although motorists were not charged with a criminal offense if they failed to provide a legitimate reason for entry. Officers could not conduct a search of a stopped [***5] vehicle unless individualized suspicion developed during a stop. During the first implementation of the NSZ program, only one arrest was made at a Trinidad NSZ checkpoint; the arrest was for driving while in possession of an open container of alcohol. Forty-eight of 951 vehicles stopped during the June checkpoints were refused entry. The record does not indicate whether any arrests were made during the second implementation of the program. See Mills v. District of Columbia, 584 F. Supp. 2d 47, 58 n.8 (D.D.C. 2008). Between the first and second implementation of the NSZ checkpoints, but after this action commenced, the District revised its Special Order governing the program. Though the six "entry-sufficient" categories remained the same, the District, understandably concerned with running afoul of the Fourth Amendment, tweaked its approach to implementing the program. Significantly, the revised Special Order established that motorists should be asked for identification only if they claimed to be residents of the NSZ in order to verify their residency. The revised Special Order also provided that information given by the motorist need only be "reasonably sufficient" to verify the motorist's [***6] reasons for entry. The primary purpose of the NSZ program remained similar despite the revisions to other areas of the program. The revised Special Order, however, clarified that "[t]he [revised] primary purpose of an NSZ is not to make arrests or to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing, but to increase protection from violent criminal acts, and promote the safety and security of persons within the NSZ by discouraging--and thereby deterring--persons in motor vehicles from entering the NSZ intending to commit acts of violence. Appellants Caneisha Mills, Linda Leaks, and Sarah Sloan were among the 48 motorists denied entry at an NSZ checkpoint during the first implementation of the [*1308] [**225] NSZ checkpoints between June 7 and June 12, 2008. 1 Each appellant was denied entry in her vehicle on account of her refusal to provide certain information. Mills refused to provide personal information regarding her identity and intended activities in the NSZ, Leaks refused to provide details about her political activity and intended community organizing, and Sloan refused to provide information about a political meeting she wished to attend. . . ." Finally note the attitude of the Chief of Police, who has probably taken an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the U.S.” “In a press conference held on July 19, 2008, MPD Police Chief Cathy Lanier stated that she would continue to utilize NSZs "until a judge orders [her] to stop." You don’t want to tangle with a liberal police chief (of a liberal-dominated city) who only wants to protect you. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, no final decision has yet been made as to whether the injunction will be granted or not. This case highlights the issue of whether we have more to fear from government or other citizens. Also problematic is the fact that these particular tactics are aimed at a relatively poor and minority neighborhood. Undoubtedly most trying to enter this neighborhood are also poor and minority. Can we justify these tactics on the basis that they will benefit the people whose rights are being violated? Finally is it realistic to think that these tactics will have any meaningful effect on violent crime in the neighborhood? Finally, stealing and paraphrasing a sarcastic/humorous e-mail quip from Steven Jamar: worrying about civil liberties is so pre 9/11.
Saturday, January 01, 2011
As many of you know, a U.S. Supreme Court term starts on the first Monday in October and runs until the Court completes its work the following year. This is usually sometime in June. The Court has already started its 2010-2011 term, but there have been no major opinions released thus far this term. In general, the important opinions are released after Jan. of the new term. Thus, all the important decisions for the 2009-2010 term were released in 2010. Those are the subject of this review. There were two notable victories for the Bill of Rights over government control. For the first time in 40 years or so, the Court held that a provision of the Bill of Rights was incorporated into the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and were thus applicable against the states. This provision was the Second Amendment and the case was McDonald v. Chicago (130 U.SA. 3020). As expected, the liberals lined up against incorporation, the conservatives were for it, and Kennedy provided the swing vote. This is a landmark case for civil liberties in the U.S. It follows on the heels of another landmark case, D.C. v. Heller (2008) which made it clear that the Second Amendment protects individual even though they are not connected to any formal militia. Second was Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (130 U.S. 876). This was a complex case. See the link below for more information on this and other cases. The Court struck down some and upheld other restrictions on expenditures, disclosure, etc. In spite of all the rhetoric it was clear that the intent/effect of the law was to give the Left and Democrats an edge in elections. The Court did not say this, but anyone intelligent enough to ask “who benefits” could see this. One of the main purposes of the First Amendment is to protect the “marketplace of ideas,” from government interference. The statutes clearly interfered, and the decision was true to the rationale of the First Amendment. What is ironic and troubling about these decisions is that the usually political roles were reversed. Most liberals screamed like stuck pigs and most conservatives were pleased. Libertarians were overjoyed. Obama publicly criticized Citizens United. Liberals have usually championed incorporation and the First Amendment and conservatives have been more cautious on these issues. The roles were reversed, suggesting that both the liberals and conservatives are not really interested in either the Bill of Rights except when it conforms to their ideology. Only Kennedy seems to be making decisions on the basis of the Constitution, not political ideology. Hypocrisy abounds. For instance the left-leaning ACLU filed an amicus brief in Citizens United that was, in essence asking the Court to not markedly expand First Amendment rights in the case. They filed no brief in McDonald. This is a “civil liberties” organization? Yes, one where left wind ideology trumps the Bill of Rights and Fourteenth Amendment when they don’t like the decision. There were some bad decisions, as usual. I will just mention two and not go into detail. See the opinion or the ACLU summaries of these cases at LINK Left-wing political correctness triumphed over the First Amendment in Ginsburg’s majority opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (130 U.S. 2971). The Court continued to weaken Miranda rights in Berghuis v. Thompkins (130 U.S. 2250). Overall, it appears to me that the Court is willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt too readily, especially in capital cases. The big news, of course, was the retirement of Justice Stevens and the confirmation of Elena Kalgan to the Court. Stevens, was, in my humble opinion, an ideologue who was more interested in furthering his leftwing policy views than in upholding the Constitution. Kagan can probably be expected to be a knee-jerk liberal. Thus there will be no overall change in the ideological balance on the Court. As is usually the case, Kennedy was, and will continue to be the, the swing vote and thus the most powerful Justice on the Court. Kennedy strikes me as being the Justice who will most likely base his decisions more on the Constitution than on policy preferences. Finally Justice Breyer conducted an embarrassing tour to promote his newest book. Not only did he appear to be more of am egotistical, self-promoting huckster than a Supreme Court Justice, his new book confirms his left-leaning La-La Land approach to the Constitution. In conclusion, beware! Your rights often hang by a single vote on this badly divided Court.