Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ObamaCare oral argument: Swing-vote Justice Kennedy expresses concerns

Oral argument in the ObamaCare case was held today in Washington. Kennedy, as is usually the case, is expected to be the swing vote. The 4 knee-jerk conservatives will vote against it and the 4 knee-jerk liberals will vote for it. Sometimes, as in D.C. v. Heller, Kennedy will tip his hand as to which way he is leaning and likely to vote. No clear indication from Kennedy today, but he seems to be troubled by the individual mandate. What he appears to be hinting at is that the federal government is not supposed to be a government of unlimited powers, but this mandate seems to be saying just that. Without some clear statement of limiting principles on this exercise of federal power, Kennedy may vote against ObamaCare. If some federal power limiting principle emerges, that allows ObamaCare, but doesn't turn the federal goverment into one of unlimited powers, Kennedy may find it constitutional. Stay tuned!

12 worst colleges for free speech

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has released it list of 12 worst colleges in terms of respecting free speech and press. Note that private institutions are not covered by the Bill of Rights but that free speech is consistent with academic freedom and open education. Notice that most of these are in the upper mid-west, northeast and New England. If you have time, read the individual profiles of each school and decide for yourself whether the "victims" of censorship were generally spouting liberal or conservative ideas. I believe you will see a clear trend. Are these places educating or indoctrinating? More hypocrisy about civil rights! First Amendment protection for the ideas I like. No protection for the ideas I don't' like.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Geo. Zimmerman shooting of Trayvon Martin: PART II

The George Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin has become a national controversy. (See the link for more info and updates) There are so many allegations, interpretations and spins that it is hard to figure out what exactly happened, what were the intentions of the persons involved, and what part of Florida law applies? I discussed Zimmerman’s personal self-defense by deadly force issue in a prior post.
However, UCLA law Prof. Adam Winkler and others see this as a case of deadly force to prevent a burglary. This may be what happened, although Zimmerman seems to be claiming personal self-defense. If Zimmerman was trying to prevent a burglary, it is a different issue and the rules are markedly different that the personal self-defense case discussed previously. As pointed out by Prof. Winkler and others, Florida law authorizes the use of deadly force when a person reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. (Note that “reasonable” modifies all of the requirements of the statute, necessity of deadly force for prevention and belief that a burglary was in progress, etc.) Burglary of a home is deemed a forcible felony for purposes of this law. Some of the facts suggest that Zimmerman was on the watch for burglars after a slew of burglaries in his neighborhood. If Zimmerman reasonably believed that Martin was about to commit a burglary (even of another person’s home) he would be justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believed the deadly force was necessary to prevent commission of the burglary. (Note that the situation might be different if Zimmerman was inside the home, but that clearly was not the case.) Again, Zimmerman would not have the defense if his belief was not “reasonable” or if the shooting was not reasonably necessary” to prevent the burglary. IF Martin was fleeing from Zimmerman, as appears to be the case from the 911 recording, the killing was not necessary to prevent the burglary. Even assuming Zimmerman’s belief that Martin was in the process of committing a burglary was reasonable, once Martin fled, the burglary had been prevented. In a pure burglary-prevention situation, Zimmerman had no right to pursue and use deadly force during the pursuit because the flight prevented the burglary. The shooting was not necessary to prevent the burglary. Zimmerman has no defense to the killing. Zimmerman doesn’t lose the defense because the police dispatcher told him not to pursue, he loses it because the burglary had already been prevented and the force was not necessary to prevent it. It seems likely, at this point, that Zimmerman has no valid prevention-of burglary defense to the killing. IF Zimmerman was pursuing when he shot Martin, the stand your ground law is inapplicable and totally irrelevant. This is also the position of the legislator who authored the law.
As stated in the prior post, if Zimmerman argues personal self-defense, the matters discussed in the prior post will apply. Zimmerman will not get personal self-defense IF he was the aggressor. Although Zimmerman is entitled to a presumption of innocence, the material released so far is very incriminating. Most expect that Zimmerman will be indicted shortly. Stay tuned.
One final note, as I see it, the main problem with the Florida law is NOT the stand your ground provision (which is irrelevant to this case), the main problem is allowing deadly force for preventing a burglary when the force is not being used by an occupant of the home or there is no reasonable belief that the burglar will use deadly force inside the home. I have no problem with using deadly force, if necessary in these two circumstances.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Example of propaganda

I often complain about the use of propaganda in the debate over policy and constitutional issues. Both the political Left and Right are guilty. This is a clear example.
If you are interested in following up on the issue of propaganda see this article in Wikipedia.

The Geo. Zimmerman Shooting--media miss the point!

The recent controversial killing in Florida by George Zimmerman has brought out lots of sloppy thinking and propagandizing. The media and propagandists will exploit the public's lack of understanding of the law of self-defense. As I understand the facts, the stand your ground law is irrelevant to the killing. The law changed only one part of Florida's self-defense law. It no longer required that threatened persons (not in their own home) retreat before using deadly defensive force to meet offensive deadly force. The new law does not require the threatened person to respond to deadly force with deadly force. They still have the option to retreat if they so desire, use non-deadly force or other tactics if they so desire. Reports suggest Zimmerman, armed with a handgun, chased the victim. He then became the aggressor and is not protected by the stand your ground law or the usual rules for self-defense. Apparently the police did not arrest him because it was not until later, when they examined the 911 tape, that it appeared he had chased the young man. The case will be submitted to a grand jury. The Brady Center and other gun control and anti-self-defense forces will claim that the stand your ground law encouraged Zimmerman. It didn't! It is not a shoot first-ask questions later law. It does not change the usual rules that forbid using deadly force against those who are not threatening the defender with deadly force. It does not allow an aggressor to use the defense. Further, most citizens, and most criminals, don't know much, if anything about the law of self-defense.

Gun Sales Explode as Election Looms

Great time to own stock in gun and ammo companies! It seems many folks remember Obama's 2008 "Bittergate" speech where he said lots of bitter people cling to their guns and religion. Many also seem to realize that their Second Amendment rights hang by a single vote in the U.S. Supreme Court.If an Obama appointee replaced one of the Heller/McDonald 5, the Second Amendment rights of individuals not connected to a militia will disappear. This is thus a landmark election for many reasons.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Supreme Court options in ObamaCare case

The most-awaited Supreme Court decision this term will be on the constitutionality of ObamaCare. The primary issue is whether or not Congress has power to enact the provision requiring all (who are deemed to be able to afford it) to purchase health insurance from a private company. The government argues that such power flows from Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce (cl. 3) and the necessary and proper (cl. 18) clauses in Art. I sec. 8 of the Constitution. Those who do not purchase such insurance will pay a monetary penalty. The penalty is not a "tax" which perhaps could be justified under Congress' Art. I sec. power to lay and collect taxes (cl. 1).
Opponents argue that the Constitution was never intended to give the federal government such wide-ranging powers, and that some of these issues were intended to be left to the states under the 10th Amendment. Given the precedents and the composition of the Court, the former argument has a chance the latter has little chance. The 4 knee-jerk conservatives will most likely vote to strike down all or parts of the law. The 4 knee-jerk liberals will vote to uphold everything and, as is often the case in the controversial battles, the decision will be made by Justice Kennedy.
Like the 2012 election, this decision will be crucial in determining whether the U.S. moves toward European-style socialism and reduced freedoms or maintains some semblance of a regulated but still market-driven economy and being, overall, the freest society on the planet.

According to Findlaw, the Court has six options.

Why do people support gun control?

For many years, many have thought (this poster included) that controversy over banni ng handguns or firearms is really not about gun control. There are many reasons for this conclusion. Some are listed below.
1. There is no credible empirical support for the basic assumptions of gun control.
2. There is no credible empirical support for the effectiveness of gun control in reducing violent crime.
3. It is ludicrous to think that criminals will obey gun control laws give up their weapons.
4. Given the millions of handguns and firearms in American society, it is ludicrous to think that gun prohibitions will work. See the National Research Council's 2004 Report entitled "Firarms and Violence," for their evaluation of the research. (You may want to download the free executive summary)

Florida State Criminologist Gary Kleck's research suggest that bans aren't really about crime control.

Rembering the influential James Q. Wilson

James Q. Wilson was one of the most influential writers and researchers on crime and criminal justice policy of his generation. He died this month at age 80. I admired Wilson because he refused to go along with the left-wing politically correct line and forged his own independent path. The link is to a brief article on his contributions.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Two new videos on police body armor

Two new videos on body armor. The second is for potential purchasers of body armor.

San Francisco Sheriff Pleads Guilty

San Francisco Sheriff pleads guilty in domestic incident.

Lawsuit: California Style

For a lighter change of pace.

Hezbollah wants Syrian resbels to disarm and seek political solution.

Hezbollah, (aka "Party of God") is a Shi'a Muslim militant group and political party based in Lebanon. It is classified as a terrorist organization by most Western nations, including the U.S. It gets most of its financial and political support from the authoritarian regimes in Syria and Iran. Hezbollah's leader calls upon the resistance in Syria go give up its arms and seek a "political" solution. It's pretty obvious that the only solution, political or otherwise, that the ruling regime is interested in (and is willing to kill thousands of Syrians for)is the more of the same brutal status quo. A regime change in Syria could cost Hezbollah and lot of financial and political resources. It's no wonder they want the resistance in Syria to lay down its arms.

International Gun Rights Group

First international gun rights group I've come across. Don't know anything about it.
Anyone out there have any info. on this org?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Trends in gun laws, carrying and violent crime.

The clear recent trend in U.S. law has been to increase the opportunities for law-abiding citizens to engage in open and/or concealed carry. This trend has been going on for over a decade and has been accompanied by drops in violent crime rates. While there may not be a connection, the trend shows that more guns and carrying by law-abiding citizens has not result in the chicken-little predictions of those who dislike guns and gun owners. Thanks to Bennett Jones for the link.

Kleck on the gun control controversy

The nation's leading expert on gun control and gun crime, Florida State Criminology Prof. Gary Kleck notes that neither gun control or increased carrying by ordinary citizens will have any significant impact on gun crime. From the article: Researchers generally "don't find any effect one way or the other. You don't get a Wild West with people shooting each other over fender-benders on the highway, nor the deterrent effect that" gun advocates foretell."People on both sides don't care what the evidence is," Kleck said. "It doesn't have anything to do with why they arrived at their position, and they're not going to be talked out of it." Couldn't have said it better myself. Guns don't make much difference in the big picture. However, they could make a psychological and real-world difference for some law-abiding folks. Further, the Second Amendment right doesn't depend on the overall empirical efficiency of defensive gun use. It's a matter of freedom of choice for law-abiding citizens.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Conviction in Ponzi scheme

Good to see that the feds haven't forgotten about White Collar crime while they are busy arming the cartels.

Higher Ed becoming an even bigger rip-off at many Universities.

Student borrowing goes up to purchase an increasingly inferior product at most schools.

Fighting Crime: Left-wing authoritarian style

Latest from Venezuela and the far Left's favorite dictator--Curtail violent crime by disarming innocent people. Law abiding folks will generally abide by gun and other laws. The folks who are committing the murders are not likely to abide by gun laws or most laws when they get in the way. This is the typical idiocy of trying to disarm the law abiding population to stop the violent criminal population. All these moves do is deprive the law-abiding of their rights to have reasonable weapons for lawful self-defense. Further, it has become obvious to many that civilian disarmament is not really about crime control (esp. in authoritarian nations). As the article suggests: "Needless to say, the political establishment, . . .doesn't give a damn about protecting people. They care about protecting themselves, their interests, and the status quo. Curtailing gun sales in the name of fighting crime is a means of achieving those goals."

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Libertarians on the Civil War and Slavery

Not all libertarians are in agreement on southern secession, slavery and the civil war. See this interesting article and the comments at the Volokh conspiracy. I agree with paragraphs I. and IV. Other than murder/genocide, slavery is the greatest violation of natural law rights possible.

A partial Second Amendment victory

Another federal judge has had the courage and intelligence to see that the word "bear" in the Second Amendment means "carry or possess" outside the home. However, the defendant ultimately lost the case as the court held that there was sufficient justification for the law. (scroll down at the link 2/7/12)

Significant Second Amendment victory

For the first time, as far as I can tell, a federal court has specifically invalidated a state law on the basis that the Second Amendment word "bear" means possession outside the home. It's amazing how long it has taken for common sense and respect for the Constitution to take hold. See the District Judge's opinion striking down a portion of Maryland law requiring that applicants for a concealed carry permit show a "good and substantial reason" to qualify for the permit. My congratulations to Judge Legg for having the courage to stand up for the Bill of Rights.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Time to get serious about prosecutorial misconduct

Prosecutor misconduct is rampant in the CJ system and is an important factor in many innocent people being convicted. As this article suggests, we need to get serious about meaningful sanctions against such prosecutors. The prosecutor's job is not to get convictions, but to see that justice is done. Often, justice is a conviction, but too often we have convictions without justice. This trend is long overdue. The U.S. Supreme Court has given prosecutors too much leeway in terms of federal civil rights liability.