The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Law

Why the Supreme Court’s unreasonable searches ruling matters to me

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This is good news:

After thirty years of near carte blanche to police regarding auto searches, this decision supports an often-abused right to privacy.  And it’s a “least-first” issue.

clipped from criminaljustice.change.org
Tuesday was a critical day for individual privacy rights at the U.S. Supreme Court.

[T]he court issued a major decision protecting citizens against unreasonable searches in traffic stops.

An unusual alliance of justices (Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas and Ginsberg) came together in a 5-4 decision in Arizona v. Gant, ruling that officers can search a car during an arrest only if the suspect is close enough to the car to reach for a weapon or if there’s reason to believe the car contains evidence very pertinent to the arrest.

The decision strengthens fourth amendment protections for criminal suspects and limits the wide latitude officers have had for nearly three decades since the court’s decision in New York v. Belton.

New York Times: Supreme Court Cuts Back Officers’ Searches of Vehicles

WSJ Law Blog: Police Power to Search Cars Up in Smoke

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I have seen abuse by police.  I’m a white, middle-class, middle-aged guy, so I’ve not seen it a lot.  But on a couple of occasions, the curtain has lifted just enough to allow a glimpse onto a stage many Americans experience as normal life.

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How about cage-free people?

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A cock and a hen roosting together.
Image via Wikipedia
US land of the free: 2,131,180 prisoners

I wonder at the oddness of it.

We in the USA prefer the eggs of cage-free chickens. Yet we cage more people than any other nation.

I guess we think cages bad for chickens but useful for humans.

At caging the latter, we are certainly the world’s most prolific:

clipped from www.nytimes.com
The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. […]

“Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror,” James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. “Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons.”

This series of articles examines commonplace aspects of the American justice system that are actually unique in the world.

Previous Articles in the Series »

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Now, surely most people in prison are not there because they’re dangerous. Violent crimes are only a small fraction of jail-meriting offenses here. So most prisoners are not locked up to protect the rest of us.

We must have locked them up, then, because we thought it good for them.

But we’re sure it makes chickens worse.

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Prosecute – and start at the top

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My friend dulios at Clipmarks writes:

From page 37 of the Office of Legal Counsel memo:

The CIA used the waterboard “at least 83 times during August 2002” in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

clipped from www.dailykos.com

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Have mercy!

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Are they less than dogs?

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Why is it that good kids get prison for pot, but wicked presidents go free after ordering torture?

Why is it that “just following orders” was no excuse at Nuremberg, but the Obama justice department finds it adequate for military abusers in the USA?

clipped from takeaction.amnestyusa.org

Take Action On This Issue

Prosecute torturers

The recent release of memos has made all the more clear what we had previously heard about the last administration’s torture policies. Forced nudity. Slamming detainees into walls. Forced sleep deprivation for days of shackled prisoners, standing in diapers in excruciating pain and filth. Although Attorney General Holder, on April 16, suggested that the Obama administration would not prosecute intelligence agents who carried out interrogations following legal advice, both those who authored the policy and those who executed it must be held accountable. Press your representatives to help establish or support a non-partisan independent commission and urge them to help expose and prosecute those responsible for abuses. Background Information

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As the Michael Vick case demonstrates, we don’t allow most Americans to practice this level of cruelty against dogs. What reason is there for excusing it against fellow human beings?

Is it because they are Muslims that torturing them has no penalty?  Is it because they are not white?  Is it because they are not US citizens?  Is a Muslim life worth less than a Christian or a Jewish or an atheist life? Is a Pakistani or a Uighur less than a dog under American law?

Is it because we don’t really expect presidents to respect the Constitution they swear to defend?  But what good is constitutional government if the privileged are not equally restrained by it?

This ruin of innocent lives will never be addressed unless Americans demand it.  It can be demanded by following the “take action” link, where there is a simple way to email Senators and Representatives.

No life can be trashed at will by lawless government.  Write.  Write until the least influential have equal justice with privileged politicians.

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