Civil Rights

To My Colleague Ron Christie, on the NAACP

It is interesting you turn the NAACP meeting into another defense of the Libby commutation, and ignore the one question you could be offering an important opinion about, which is this:

Don’t you agree with me, that it is profoundly unwise for Republican presidential candidates, with only one exception, to disrespect the NAACP and simply refuse to attend?

There have been other African American-related meetings, and there will be more, and the common denominator is that the Republican presidential candidates give them the back of their hand.

Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade Are in Mortal Peril

The United States Supreme Court is moving to reverse long-cherished American notions of constitutional law.

The divisions that plague American society have invaded the sanctity of the court, with angry dissents and at times personal criticism among justices that illustrate both the passions and dangers of the debate.

These events escalate a pattern of extreme actions that violate cardinal American ideals on matters including torture, the Geneva Convention, attacks on the Bill of Rights, presidential assertions of authority to violate statutes with non-binding statements, secrecy of unprecedented scope, the inability of Congress to perform its historic function of preventing executive abuse, and now a bitterly divided Supreme Court that threatens values long thought to be part of our national consensus.

As The Jim Crow Flies

Now for a quote: “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

That of course is the key finding in the 1954 landmark Brown decision, written by the chief justice, Earl Warren.

Now another definition from Webster’s — actually three synonyms — for chutzpah: Nerve, temerity, gall.

Using it in a sentence: “This chief justice, John Roberts, has a lot chutzpah having the nerve, the temerity, the GALL to claim that Brown supports his ruling against the Seattle and Louisville, Ky., school programs, which aim to promote DEsegregation.

It is true. Affirmative action, which is what this is, favors one race over another, as a factor in the struggle to achieve diversity. We claim as a nation that we support the idea of races and ethnic groups living together.

Meritocracy vs. Bureaucracy

On a stage last night in Washington, D.C., 10 Democratic presidential candidates took turns criticizing this week’s Supreme Court’s decision banning school districts from using race as a criterion to assign pupils to public schools. Those of you who have been asleep for the last 50 years might have thought this practice was banned by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, but liberals have resurrected the practice in the name of “diversity.” The Supreme Court quite rightly noted such a reason was not sufficiently compelling to invalidate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, which liberals in other circumstances have held to be sacrosanct.

Ham Sandwiches

If he feels like it, a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. It's a cliche, but it speaks to the power we give those who can and sometimes do sweep aside our so-called presumption of innocence. They can easily get life-ruining indictments from poorly informed grand juries, based on dismally low standards of proof.

Let's be clear There is no comparison between Patrick Fitzgerald and Mike Nifong. Unlike Nifong, Fitzgerald has scrupulously followed the rules that delineate his power. But do the rules give him and all prosecutors too much power? 

Racial Profiling

A recent study by police departments about racial profiling is fueling heated debates across America. While Hispanics, African-Americans and Caucasians are pulled over at the same rate, the former two are arrested over twice as often as their fairer-skinned counterparts.

However, in my opinion, racial profiling is not limited to any one race. Racial profiling is a crime-based classification of phenotypes or characteristics that evidence suggests have a higher likelihood of revealing a criminal. Think back to Virginia Tech. The reason Cho Seung-Hui wasn’t caught early on was because of the racial profile of a school serial killer: a white male. This profiling is no different for inner-city crimes, mafia-related crimes, arson or any other serious crime.

Gun Delusions

In light of some of the recent reports of police interactions it becomes increasingly apparent that their use of firearms is abysmal. When they have to fire 39 times to hit an innocent 92-year-old woman six times — in the case of Ms. Johnston — or 50 times to kill Sean Bell and 41 times for Amadou Diallo, it draws their accuracy into question. Mind you, police are trained in the use of firearms and dealing with stressful and life-threatening situations. However, given these statistics it seems that their accuracy may be somewhere around 17 percent, which is less than one hit out of five attempts. That’s worse than the worst batting averages in baseball!

Now, I own a gun myself, I’m an active, paying member of the NRA, but in light of these statistics I have to ask myself a question: Am I really able to defend myself with a gun? If the police, who are required to train, can’t hit enemies at close range even when they have to complete target practice at farther ranges as well as exercises in stressful situations, then how could I? Are these guns that we purchase really going to protect us when we’re faced with a real threat?

You're Split On Gun Gun Control

By a small margin (55% to 45%) respondents in our Quick Poll! thought the recent mass murder on the campus of Virginia Tech made the case for more gun controls rather than fewer. The percentages swung back and forth each day, never getting far from an even split that roughly reflects nationwide ambiguity on the issue. If Cho had not had a gun, he probably would not have killed anyone, but if others near him during his murder spree had carried guns, he probably would not have killed nearly so many people. The debate goes on.

Abortion, gun control head back to spotlight

The double whammy of the Supreme Court decision on partial-birth abortion combined with questions about how the Virginia Tech campus shooter got his gun will propel the social issues of abortion and gun control back to the top of the agenda in the presidential race. In both cases, the likely beneficiary will be Hillary Clinton and the loser will be Rudy Giuliani. Hillary, who Gallup has sagging in popularity (down 45-52), clearly needs a shot in the arm. The partial-birth abortion decision will cause women to rally to her candidacy if she exploits it properly. For Rudy, the news is less good. As a moderate trying to make it in the Republican primary, nothing could be worse than an increase in focus on the issues of abortion and guns. While his pro-choice and pro-gun-control record will resonate well with the general electorate, it is anathema to the hardened party base. All of this could stimulate an entry into the race by Fred Thompson, whose positions on guns and abortion are more in line with right-wing views.

Dems Silent on Gun Control

On gun control, how times have changed.

Not so long ago, the lament was: Why’s it take a campus massacre like Columbine to get any action on gun control? Today, the lament is just the opposite: Why, even after a campus massacre like Virginia Tech, is there no action on gun control?

This is not exactly a rerun of Profiles in Courage. In the wake of the mass murder at Virginia Tech, not one Democratic presidential candidate has talked about gun control. Not one. Nor have but a handful of Democrats in Congress.