There was an interesting confrontation in Seattle this week where a man flew a drone just feet away from a family home. The drone was camera-equipped and the mother called police. Before the man left, he insisted that he had a right to use a private drone to surveil his neighbors. No it is not John Ashcroft’s neighborhood. I wanted to clarify a couple of points before others take to the air for some private snooping.
Archive for the 'Constitutional Law' Category
Couple Refuses To Allow Police To Enter Home Without Warrant . . . Police Kick Down Door and Taser CouplePublished 1, May 16, 2013 Constitutional Law , Criminal law , Society 103 Comments
This video shows a confrontation between a couple in Cotati, California and police after the police were called to investigate a domestic violence complaint. The couple tells the police that they were simply yelling in an argument and refused to allow the police to enter without a warrant. The police respond by kicking down the door and tasering the couple.
Satanic Tweets: Head of Saudi Religious Police Warns Citizens That Use of Twitter Destroys Chance For HeavenPublished 1, May 16, 2013 Constitutional Law , Free Speech , Politics , Religion , Society 44 Comments
Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police, has gone public with a renewed attack on the use of social media sites, particularly Twitter. He warned citizens that the use of sites like Twitter guarantees that the user “has lost this world and his afterlife.”
I recently published a column on how Barack Obama has publicly assumed many of the powers that were once cited as the basis for the investigation and attempted impeachment of Richard Nixon. One of those areas was the Obama Administration’s crackdown on journalists. This week Attorney General Eric Holder appears to have yet again added to this ignoble record. It appears that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press. This disclosure follows another recent disclosure that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted conservative groups associated with the Tea Party. Yet, once again, most Democrats remain silent in a type of cult of personality where principle is discarded in favor of loyalty to the President.
by Gene Howington, Gust Blogger
As previously discussed in the column “Fantastic Plastic?“, the advent of cheap 3-D printing (or additive manufacturing) is changing the nature of how we can manufacture anything including guns. At the time the original column was written, a pioneer in additive manufacturing of guns – Defense Distributed of Austin, Texas – was making headlines for using this technology to make lower receivers for AR-15 style assault rifles. Although in the proof of concept stage, Defense Distributed had rapidly shown that they could make such a component capable of firing over 600 rounds before stress failure. I speculated that such a weapon was not as threatening due to size and some materials constraints and that even more dangerous was the possibility of all (or nearly all) plastic handguns and other easily concealable weapons that escape normal detection techniques.
In this instance, we have a case of science rapidly catching up with speculation. Last week Defense Distributed released the following video of their plastic handgun design. The only metal component of the weapon is the firing pin. It is called (rather dramatically) the Liberator.
In a move that is not entirely unexpected as self-described crypto-anarchist Cody R. Wilson and his company Defense Distributed continue to push both the boundaries of the technology as well as gun laws, the government took action. It is no secret that escalation often begets escalation. Is this the first salvo by the government in their dealings with Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed?
In states from Texas to Oklahoma to Iowa, legislators have introduced resolutions that appear to proclaim Israel as a nation ordained by God. Most recently, the Texas enrolled SR 694 — a resolution introduced by Republican Senator Ken Paxton of McKinney, Texas and entitled “Commending Israel for its relationship with the United States.” It is not the title but the first sentence that is surprising: “WHEREAS, Israel has been granted her lands as recorded in the Old Testament.” That sounds a lot like saying that the nation of Israel is ordained by God and that religious claim is being ratified by the Texas legislature.
I was interviewed recently on an interesting case out of New York where Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels are suing to be able to live together in public housing. The problem is that they are mentally disabled and the state says that it cannot accommodate mentally disabled married couples. It is a case that pits constitutional rights for married couples (as well as disability protections) against a state’s discretionary decisions on budgetary and facilities management.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
My opinion of the situation in this country is obviously grim if one looks at the themes I tend to write on. As I see it we are either fast becoming a Corporate Feudal Police State, or already have achieved that dubious distinction. I am in favor of a movement towards reversing this situation. There are some issues that can resonate with most Americans and any movement seeking to reverse the anti-Constitutional trends afoot in the U.S. today must find the means to go beyond the falseness of the Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative ideological inanity. We have a corporate two party system, run by an oligarchic elite, whose base disagreement is how to treat those 99% of us, who in their view are the American Peasantry. The Republican Corporatists in effect believe that the majority of Americans should be left to their own devices, while the Democratic Corporatists mildly look for palliatives that won’t disturb their benefactors who are really in charge. Some may say my viewpoint is a radical one and this is possibly so, though the definitions of “radical” have blurred through the years. In my life I’ve spent a number of years as a political activist in one form or another and as I approach the age of 70, I think that my experiences have taught me much about political activism and the potential dangers it brings to the people at large. Right now I find two issues that frighten me for the sake of the future and how my progeny will experience it. The first is the notion of a coming police state and the second is the prospect of a violent, revolutionary upheaval in reaction to it. In other words I see we the People of the United States being between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. Continue reading ‘You Say You Want a Revolution?’
Bring Out Your Reds, Bring Out Your Reds: Florida Sheriff Invites Neighbors To Turn In People Who “Hate The Government”Published 1, May 3, 2013 Constitutional Law , Criminal law , Politics , Society 71 Comments
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has reached $1 million for a new violence prevention unit and has used it to call on neighbors to inform the police if any neighbors have been saying hostile things about the government. “We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s gonna shoot him . . . What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’ ” I have no problem with calling police if someone says that they are going to shoot someone. However, expressing hate for the mayor or government is a core part of free speech and the visit by the police can be viewed as having an obvious chilling effect on speech. He wants $3 million to expand the program.
Moroccan Student Reportedly In Hiding From Police After Posting With Sign Saying “I Am Proud To Be An Atheist.”Published 1, May 3, 2013 Constitutional Law , Criminal law , Free Speech , International , Media , Politics , Religion , Society 23 Comments
Various atheist sites are reporting that Moroccan student Imad Eddin Habib, 22, is in hiding from police who are seeking him for rejecting Islam and espousing atheism. A Pew poll just showed overwhelming support among many Muslims nations — and allies of the United States — for executing people like Habib for apostasy. The Casablanca paramedical student has gone public as an atheist and police have now interviewed his family on his whereabouts and any foreign connections.
Continue reading ‘Moroccan Student Reportedly In Hiding From Police After Posting With Sign Saying “I Am Proud To Be An Atheist.”’
Pew Poll Finds Overwhelming Support For Executing People For Apostasy In Afghanistan and Other Muslim NationsPublished 1, May 3, 2013 Constitutional Law , Criminal law , Politics , Religion , Society 27 Comments
A new poll by the Pew Research Center offers an disturbing insight into the views of the majority of Muslims in some countries on the subject of apostasy. With blasphemy, apostasy remains one of the greatest threats to human rights and free speech in the world with people continuing to be arrested for rejecting Islam. Some 78 percent of Afghan Muslims support putting former Muslims to death for rejecting Islam. Our Afghan “allies” actually had the highest support for this basic denial of human rights — a system that we prop up with American lives and treasure. In Egypt and Pakistan, 64 percent support executing for apostasy.
Continue reading ‘Pew Poll Finds Overwhelming Support For Executing People For Apostasy In Afghanistan and Other Muslim Nations’
There is an interesting case brewing between Scientology and one of the many former members alleging abuse by the church. While not attracting much attention in the main stream press, Anti-scientology sites have been following an important case out of California where an appellate court has turned down a claim of the church that it can refuse discovery under clergy-penitent privilege. The church is using the privilege to deny a demand for a “pc folder” containing notes from interrogations of Laura DeCrescenzo by church officials. The case is important not only in the understanding of the privilege but a potential breakthrough for alleged victims of the church who accuse Scientology of being a cult or criminal organization.
Below is today’s column on the calls for expanding security and surveillance powers in the aftermath of the Boston bombing. (An Internet version ran last week but was updated for print) [I untangled one line that was changed in editing]. My greatest concern is that the Boston response will become the accepted or standard procedure in shutting down cities and ordering warrantless searches. No politicians wants to be seen questioning the necessity or efficacy of such measures out of fear of appearing “soft” on terror.
The Law of Identity is one of Aristotle’s fundamental Laws of Thought. It is expressed often in the terms of A=A or in other philosophical works as some variation of Marcus Aurelius’ admonishment to “ask of each and every thing what is it in itself”. This is less commentary than informal unscientific survey, but some of your answers will likely inform a future commentary. These questions kept hovering about as I considered the topic of the social compact. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the nature of the social compact model of government and that had been my intended topic for this weekend. However, as I thought about it and reviewed some older threads here where the subject had come up in preparation for addressing the subject, another area of confusion stood out as prevalent as well. That confusion centers around the proper role of government in society, specifically the proper role of government as defined by the U.S. Constitution.
If we look at the Constitution itself, the Preamble contains a basic description of the function of our Federal government.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
It is important to note that the Preamble is not law in the traditional sense. It neither grants powers nor restricts action. It simply provides context for the purpose of the form of government as established in the following articles and amendments. It is a statement of our aspirational goals of government.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
I must begin this guest blog with a bit of a confession. When I first started posting on Jonathan’s blog many years ago I found that he had recognized me in one of his end of the year posts. He wrote words to the effect that what he found appealing in my comments was my tendency to reveal much about myself in the course of them. He had seen into the essence of not only my writing style, but also of the way I interpret the world around me. For me it always starts from my personal emotions about an issue and then I work to try to see how my personal experiences can apply to the world around me. It is the key to my empathy, which allows extrapolating my personal experience into a more global view of the world I live in. I imagine that is how it is for most people, but we all live in the isolation of our own consciousness. It is in truth not the best writing style and certainly not the most creative one, but at least limited by my own ability to be self critical, it is the most honest writing that I am capable of producing.
With that caveat in mind, let’s talk about my own health care experiences. I was genetically endowed with the predisposition towards heart disease. Both my parents and many of their siblings died in their early fifties from variations of heart disease. My Mother had perhaps four heart attacks (MI’s) and three strokes. My father had two heart attacks. As a family we were far from wealthy, struggling to maintain ourselves at the lower end of the middle-class, but my father had prescience that kept us from disaster. He always paid for good medical coverage and back then and most importantly medical coverage was affordable. Given my seeing so many medical issues as a boy my families medical insurance made a big impression on me. As a civil servant in New York City in lieu of an adequate salary I was covered by good health insurance and always elected to have the best, most costly plan. Up until the age of 36 this “Cadillac” (to use the current verbiage) plan wasn’t necessary because I seemed to be in good health, although the high blood pressure that kept me out of the Viet Nam draft was a concern to Doctors, but then I rarely needed to see Doctors. Six months after I married though at age 37, I suffered my first massive heart attack. With the help of my wife who nursed me through the recovery I seemed to return to normal. The hospital costs were huge and would have bankrupted me but for my health insurance. As my life progressed I had two more MI’s and then finally Congestive Heart Failure so bad that it led to me being put on an artificial heart device LVAD to keep me alive and finally a heart transplant to give me a new life. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/22/from-the-bottom-of-my-new-heart/
Thanks to my Medicare and my secondary health insurance I am alive today and nearing 70 years. My health insurance has probably paid out many millions to keep me alive and I sm grateful for that and in truth very lucky that I chose to be an underpaid Civil Servant.
My personal experience with the health care system came to mind when the Boston Marathon bombing occurred leaving so many victims with dire health care problems, many with loss of limbs. I can remember that day thinking what the costs of these patients treatment would be and how many of them would pay for it, even with the Massachusetts Health Insurance system. You see even though my Heart Transplant was covered, it is estimated that costs to the transplant patient are $30,000 for the first year after the transplant. I can’t cry poverty, but let’s say that those ancillary costs wiped out most of my savings. The loss of a limb and the rehabilitation from it can take many years and is costly. Prosthetics wear out and must be replaced. Depending on ones occupation their income can be adversely affected and their family lives severely disrupted as a consequence. While it is true that thus far some $23 million dollars has been raised purportedly for the victims how far will that money go towards allowing them to return to their normal lives? Given this what are the implications of the response to this particular act of horror in terms of the entire health care debate that is far from settled in this country? Continue reading ‘Health Care, Boston and the Luck of the Draw’
The two most serious threats to religious critics remain blasphemy laws and apostasy laws in Muslim nations, which deny citizens the right to free speech and association on matters of religion. Apostasy is particularly lethal since Muslims in many countries follow what they believe to be the need to kill anyone who renounces Islam. Morocco’s Higher Council of Religious Scholars (CSO) has this week taken a step back in time with a fatwa demanding the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their faith. In the Koran, Bukhari 52:260 quotes Mohammad as saying “If somebody [a Muslim] discards his religion, kill him.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg appears to be moving beyond dictating what people can drink and eat in his city despite judicial rulings finding his policies in violation of the Constitution. Bloomberg joined the Pavlovian response of politicians this week in calling for a reduction in civil liberties in response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Bloomberg warned citizens that the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.
Stopping The Rant By Denying The Right: North Carolina School Shuts Down Radio Program After Complaint From State RepresentativePublished 1, April 23, 2013 Academics , Constitutional Law , Free Speech , Media , Politics , Society 21 Comments
State Rep. Mike C. Stone (R-NC), left, is being accused this week of pressuring the closure of a weekly radio program at the Central Carolina Community College called “The Rant.” Stone appears remarkably sensitive as a politician to criticism and contacted the school about the program and its funding. CCCC President T.E. “Bud” Marchant reportedly responded to the pressure by tossing out any notions of journalistic and academic independence, though he denies the program was shutdown over “content.”
Zambia’s justice minister Wynter Kabimba has gone public with his opposition to efforts to protect gays and lesbians in his country. Kabimba, who is also secretary general of the Patriotic Front, unleashed a tirade against gay rights this week and what he views as an international conspiracy to spend “colossal sums of money” to promote homosexuality. He is just the latest African leader to strike out at gays and lesbians.
New York State Senator Greg Ball (R) took little time after the Boston bombing to call for the torture of 19-year-old Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Ball went to Twitter to call for the teenager to be tortured in the name of all of the values we hold dear as Americans.
There is an interesting free speech case brewing in West Virginia where Jared Marcum, 14, has been criminally charged for refusing to remove a T-shirt with National Rifle Association’s logo and hunting rifle. The T-shirt was found in violation of Logan Middle School’s dress code. However, regardless of how you feel about gun rights, the T-shirt was the expression of a recognized constitutional right and constitutes political speech.
The Palinotologists are back. A Kansas school district is refusing to back down from a plan for mandatory assemblies featuring a creationist group to explain the history of dinosaurs. Despite overwhelming data and testing showing the world is millions of years old, many creationists insist that Earth is only a few thousand years old. Dinosaurs represent a bit of a problem of course. The solution, as famously stated by that American intellectual Sarah Palin, is that men co-existed with dinosaurs. Hugoton Public Schools invited Creation Truth Foundation’s founder Dr. G. Thomas Sharp to teach the “Truth about Dinosaurs” at two assemblies. Hugoton Public Schools superintendent Mark Crawford however insists that students must hear about science from this biblically based group.
Not So Gladd: Clinton Heckled In Receiving Award For Opposing Law He Created In Denial Of Gay RightsPublished 1, April 22, 2013 Bizarre , Constitutional Law , Media , Politics , Society 94 Comments
Last week, President Bill Clinton accepted GLAAD’s ‘Advocate for Change’ Award in Los Angeles last night but not everyone was buying Clinton’s latest change of heart over gay marriage. GLADD notably left out of the award that Clinton not only signed but helped push through the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This was not in 1896 but in 1996. Clinton was heckled by some in the crowd as he accepted the award as a leader on gay rights, yelling “you signed it” when he referred to DOMA as if it was some alien or GOP legislation. What is truly annoying is Clinton’s “some of my best friends are now gay” rationalization.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
In the past few weeks, I have written about how the FDIC along with the Bank of England had developed a plan to allow the Big banks to grab depositors funds in order to bail out those very same big banks. Since that article was written, I have reviewed just what role the Federal Reserve Bank plays and how can it be improved. You may remember the role the Federal Reserve played in bailing out the Big Banks during the beginning of the Great Recession.
“As a result of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of the Fed, Senate sponsor Bernie Sanders of Vermont said, “We now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world.” Among the investigation’s key findings was that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to Scotland. These decisions were all made without the public, media or elected officials’ knowledge, and they would have remained secret without an audit.” Bernie Sanders Continue reading ‘Fed Up With the Fed’
or “You Might Be An Enemy Combatant If . . .”
by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger
UPDATED: You might be an enemy combatant if . . . Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) says so.
This sounds like a bad joke, but it isn’t. The potential political misuse of the arbitrary “enemy combatant” status has been discussed here on many threads albeit usually in the form of using Executive abuse to illustrate that danger while Graham’s cavalier “suggestion” is clearly from the Legislative branch. In comments made by phone to the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin on Friday, April 19, Senator Graham said of the Boston bombers:
‘They were radicalized somewhere, somehow.’ Regardless of whether they are international or ‘homegrown,’ he said, ‘This is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield.’ Recalling Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster, Graham noted that he took to the Senate floor specifically to object to Rand’s notion that ‘America is not the battlefield.’ Graham said to me, ‘It’s a battlefield because the terrorists think it is.’ Referring to Boston, he observed, ‘Here is what we’re up against,’ and added, ‘It sure would be nice to have a drone up there [to track the suspect.]‘ He also slammed the president’s policy of ‘leading from behind and criminalizing war.’”
That was not the end of Graham’s disturbing posturing.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
Like most of us I have been watching the developments in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy throughout the week. Because I’m retired I probably logged more hours of viewing it on TV than most people who are younger. The initial bombings on Monday and their aftermath made me terribly sad at the loss of innocent lives and the maiming of so many, which will have future pain and consequences for the entire lives of the victims. As a father and grandfather how could I not feel painful tears for the death of an 8 year old and the lifelong pain of his parents? Yet beyond that sadness, I also felt a sense of anxiety in my chest as I listened to the hour upon hour of cable news coverage and the analysis of “terrorism experts” aligned with prognosticators telling us what it all means.
My anxiety did not stem from fear of terrorism, because that fear is irrational. This is so not because terrorism is a chimera, but because this type of terrorism is an all too real fact of the lives of humanity and indeed while we in America have suffered it, so has the rest of the world to an even greater degree. Great Britain, Spain, Iraq, Israel, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia etc. and so on and so forth. Life itself is always uncertain and unseen death lurks as a constant possibility for even the most protected of us. This has always been the human condition and the truth is that as the eons of human history have passed we are far safer now than our ancestors ever were. Yet it is also a human necessity to maintain the illusion of our own safety and indeed immortality. When horrors like the Boston Marathon bombings occur it tends to shake up our human illusions and engender fear. In the aftermath of these horrors though come the “explainers” whose attempts to soothe us only increase the fears. Following the “explainers” come those who would exploit the aroused fears for their personal gain or predilection. This happened in America from 9/11 and in its wake the false meme “This Changes Everything” was transformed into a reality of war, torture and the shredding of our Constitution. My anxiety was raised because as I watch this all unfold on TV I became fearful of how this new attention arousing horror would be used by those intent upon transforming this country into a Police State under the guise of saving it from terror. Continue reading ‘SWAT: Is America Coming Under Martial Law, Redux’
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Northwest Rankin High School is a public high school located in Flowood, Mississippi. On Tuesday April 9th, a student, representing Pinelake Baptist Church, addressed an assembly at the school and showed a video of two young men who had been “saved” from drugs and sex. Several students reported the mandatory assembly, during school hours, to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center (AHLC). AHLC coordinator William Burgess sent a letter of condemnation to principal Charles Frazier.
Pavlovian Politics: Leaders Line Up To Call For Increased Surveillance In Aftermath of Boston BombingPublished 1, April 19, 2013 Columns , Congress , Constitutional Law , Criminal law , Justice , Politics , Society 89 Comments
Below is my column today in USA Today on the Boston bombing and the call for new security laws and expanded surveillance. I have been doing interviews trying to caution against these calls for immediate action — a mantra that we hear after every attack no matter the cause. I am in Chicago today and was struck by how quickly Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel called for more surveillance cameras in a city with one of the largest surveillance systems in the United States.
The video below gives an insight into the challenges that police face on a daily basis after a mob formed quickly after the police arrested a man accused of threatening a Jewish man and hurling anti-Semitic slurs. Almost immediately, a group formed accusing the police of abuse and obstructing their lawful arrest. There is no sign of abusive police conduct in the video.
The Supreme Court has handed down its decision in Missouri v. McNeely, which is linked below. Missouri sought to establish a per se rule that blood tests were always covered by the “exigent circumstances” exception under the fourth amendment because the alcohol blood level continues to fall with time. It was another example of how some police departments seek thoughtlessly to expand exceptions when current rules allow ample room for legitimate police needs. Only Justice Thomas voted to support such a sweeping new rule. My Supreme Court class reviewed this case and voted the same with the actual court in rejecting the claim (9-1). The class also voted 9-1 in predicting this result in affirming the lower court. The majority opinion below was written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Laura Curry, a professor of film at the University of Buffalo, has been arrested after she confronted a pro-life demonstration using profane language. In the video below, Curry objects to being asked to stop because of her language. She insists that she has a first amendment right to swear. In my view, she is correct. I do not see how this is any cognizable crime. One can certainly disagree with the tenor or public conduct of the professor, but this would seem protected speech. This is the second such arrest of a professor in a month for denouncing a campus demonstration. There are really two legal issues presented in such cases: a criminal case (which is quite weak) and an academic case (which is likely to be more substantial) against the professor.
In the aftermath of the explosion in Boston, Muslims again appear the target of arbitrary suspicion and detention. On a flight from Boston to Chicago, passengers became alarmed when two different passengers were heard speaking in Arabic. The two passengers were not traveling or seated together but the flight crew returned to the gate to have the two passengers detained.
Continue reading ‘Flying While Arab: Two Passengers Removed From Boston Flight After Speaking Arabic’
A Clipper Proves The Undoing Of A Mullet: Amish Hate Crimes Case Raises Fundamental Concerns Over Federal PowerPublished 1, April 16, 2013 Bizarre , Constitutional Law , Criminal law , Religion 36 Comments
The recent conviction of Amish bishop Samuel Mullet Sr. in the Amish hair-cutting case raises renewed questions over the ever-expanding claims of federal jurisdiction. Mullet was given 15 years in prison for federal hate crimes. In order to do so, however, the Obama Administration had to establish federal jurisdiction. They did so by building the case around the “Wahl battery-operated hair clippers” used to cut the beards of Amish men and insisted that federal jurisdiction followed the clippers which crossed state borders in their manufacturing and sale. The superseding indictment is linked below.
The trend of blasphemy convictions continues this week with the disturbing case of pianist and composer Fazil Say, who merely retweeted a verse from an 11th century poet on Islamic beliefs on Twitter last year. Under these laws, people are prohibited from speaking their doubts about religious orthodoxy and beliefs. Say was given a suspended 10-month jail term and a criminal record for speaking his mind in Turkey. It is the latest example of how the Islamic government in Turkey is destroying the secular traditions of the country and once gave the country greater freedom than its Muslim neighbors.
Tags: DSM-IV-TR, DSM-V, gun control, mental health, mental illness, psychiatriy, psychology, PTSD, violence
Submitted by Charlton Stanley, guest blogger
What is mental illness? It’s a hot topic in the news recently, because of proposed gun control legislation. I saw a photo yesterday of people holding up a huge sign saying, “Keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill.”
There is far more to the demonization of the mentally ill than just the firearms issue. It spills over into the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation. It is not just guns; it is airplanes and trucks as well. This brings us to the core question of, “What is mental illness?” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) is the current handbook for classifying mental disorders. DSM-V is in the final stages of development and will be published in May 2013. That is only next month.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
I have seen the suggestion before that Welfare recipients need to be drug tested to make sure that taxpayers are not paying for the drug habits of those evil poor people. I have even seen relatives allude to it in messages on social media sites and I have witnessed friends championing the idea in personal emails. I always wondered why some people think that the poor must be abusing the state and federal aid programs and therefore must have drug tests to insure that the taxpayers money is not being wasted. While I agree that taxpayers money should not be wasted, I have not seen any benefit from forcing people to be drug tested before they receive their aid payments.
The State of Florida tried this from 1999 to 2001 and reintroduced it in 2011. The Florida plan was subsequently struck down by the courts because there was no evidence that poor people abused drugs more often than their wealthier counterparts. “The state of Florida passed an almost identical testing procedure that ran from 1999 to 2001 and was reintroduced in July of 2011 that was struck down by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta the following month, citing the fact: ‘ “there is nothing inherent to the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a `concrete danger’ that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use.” ‘ Crooks and Liars Does it surprise you that it took the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals before this expensive and intrusive process was ended in Florida? Continue reading ‘Drug Testing Welfare Recipients to Prevent Abuse’
This column is meant to show that there is a broader problem in the rush to claim common material, images, and terms. Perhaps it was inevitable that with the ever expanding patent, copyright, and trademark laws, mankind itself would become a form of property: the ultimate evolution from creator to object.
Continue reading ‘From Creator To Object: The Supreme Court To Consider Patent Claim To Human Genes’
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
Our nation has become a military empire analogous to ancient Rome, another Republic that lost its bearings because it became the mightiest fighting force of its time. That we owe this to having spectacularly won what could be called “The Last Just War”, World War II, merely ironically underlines our descent into become the World’s most bellicose nation. This bellicosity has been masked by propaganda that makes us out to be the one nation responsible for ensuring “freedom and safety”. In this strife torn Earth, that idea cannot be supported since the truth is that we are the chief threat to peace in the world today. Now in truth, the use of the United States military to intervene in this Nation and other Nation’s affairs is not simply a phenomenon that began with World War II as you can see from this timeline linked here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations . What World War II marked though was the absolute dominant position in world military power which our country attained during our participation in that war. Given the magnitude of its scope it is easy to forget that for the United States World War II lasted only a brief four years. However, the incredible mobilization of troops and the supporting materiel of war were accomplished via a total mobilization that in the end fully turned the vision of Corporate America towards the great profits and benefits to be derived by American military dominance. Indeed, for generations to come there was a fluidity of personnel between leading corporate entities and the Department of Defense.
Since 2001 our Armed Forces have been totally engaged in two major, unjustified wars and various minor “peace actions”. A child born in 1990 in the U.S. grew up in a world where there has been constant warfare and warfare’s necessary companion glorification of military service. The admixture of America’s warlike behavior and the faux glorification of the nobility of our military has become a constant in that young persons mind, only to better make them future cannon fodder for our dominant Corporate/Military Industrial Complex. Sadly, the less educated that young person is the more they are gullible to the siren call of that propaganda of military glorification. As the Great U.S. General Smedley Butler said so long ago: “War is a racket”. Continue reading ‘America’s Next War: Coming Soon’
Louisiana State Representative Katrina R. Jackson has a curious take on the religion clauses. Despite contrary Supreme Court precedent under the First Amendment, Jackson is pushing legislation to require students to learn the Lord’s prayer every morning in public schools. Jackson insists that requiring the Lord’s prayer (though students cannot be punished for failing to recite it) is simply a way to get them to appreciate . . . you guessed it . . . religious freedom.
As the Supreme Court considers the same-sex marriage cases in Hollingsworth and Windsor, the arrest of Roger Gorley could serve as an answer to justices like Chief Justice John Roberts who asked pointedly what the rush was for an answer on the issue. Gorley was arrested at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City after he refused to leave the side of his partner. While he had power of attorney and the right to make medical decisions, family members did not want him in the room. Because he was not viewed as a “spouse” and therefore a family member, he was told to leave.
This week produced a reminder of the lack of separation of temple and state in Israel where the government routinely enforces Jewish religious laws. Tourists at the Western Wall watched as women were arrested in Jerusalem’s Old City for merely wearing prayer shawls in defiance of Orthodox beliefs. Orthodox laws govern the activities at the wall and Orthodox Jews believe that only men can wear shawls and pray at the wall.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, after she refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding. I have been writing about the tension between free exercise rights and anti-discrimination laws — a subject that I discussed at the conference this week at the Utah Valley University’s Center for Constitutional Studies. This is now an issue that is arising with greater regularity, including conflicts over wedding cakes and other items.
Continue reading ‘Washington Attorney General Sues Florist Who Refused To Provide Flowers For Gay Wedding’
San Diego Police Tell Man That His Cellphone Is A Weapon And Arrest Him After He Refuses To Stop Filming Them In PublicPublished 1, April 11, 2013 Constitutional Law , Criminal law , Free Speech , Society 38 Comments
We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue. Usually police claim that it is a crime to film them. San Diego police have been videotaped with a new and even more disturbing angle on these cases. Police officers were videotaped telling Adam Pringle that his cellphone was a weapon and then arresting him.
Republican state Rep. Michele Presnell of Burnsville, N.C., shows that the effort to reform the image of the GOP is still a work in progress. When asked recently about whether she would be comfortable with a Muslim prayer opening a legislative meeting, Presnell responded: “No, I do not condone terrorism.” Presnell was one of the legislators who recently sponsored a bill to allow North Carolina to establish an official religion. My guess is that it would not be Islam.
As Vladimir Putin secures a new blasphemy law against critics or mockers of religion, Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill is showing that, while insulting his faith is a crime, insulting women is divine. Kirill condemned “feminism” as “very dangerous” for families and Russia, encouraging women to focus on housekeeping and children.
The Russian State Duma has reportedly moved forward with new legislation pushed by the Putin government to criminalize blasphemy — a measure designed to please the Russian Orthodox church. As we have discussed previously, Putin has reestablished the link with the Church to crack down on critics and nonbelievers. The new law purportedly protects religious feelings of believers.
While the North Carolina House of Representatives has finally killed the bill to allow the state to establish a state religion, a new study found that 34 percent of adults would favor establishing Christianity as the official state religion. While 47 percent opposed the establishment of state religion, it was less than a majority.
In October of 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union published a report titled In for a Penny: The Rise of America’s New Debtors’ Prisons. The ACLU had found that debtors’ prisons were “flourishing” in this country, “more than two decades after the Supreme Court prohibited imprisoning those who are too poor to pay their legal debts.” In 2011, Huffington Post reported that debtors’ prisons were legal in more than one-third of the states in this country. Continue reading ‘The Rise of “Debtors’ Prisons” in the US’
Or the Inability to “Uninvent” Simple Objects
by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger
Disclosure: I consider myself both a liberal and pro-2nd Amendment and my position on gun control is that while reasonable solutions can be found to prevent tragedies such as Newtown that going so far as to repeal the 2nd Amendment is both an ultimately futile solution (for the reasons discussed below) and most unwise Constitutionally speaking (for reasons discussed elsewhere on this blog). This article is not about my position on the 2nd Amendment.
In the wake of the horror of Newtown, a national debate has arisen between those who – at the extremes – would either outlaw guns or have them totally unrestricted. Most of the debate is somewhere in-between those two polar extremes. Most everyone agrees that keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally unstable and known criminals is not a bad idea. This column is not about that debate proper over gun control. It is about the nature of technology and law as it is framed by that debate. In specific, it is about 3-D printing and use of that technology to make firearms. Is the problem the technology or the user?