Monday, July 30, 2012

Alabama Trying to Ban Use of Welfare $$ for Alcohol, Cigarettes, Strip Clubs, and Psychics.

Alabama Bill Introduced Would Prohibit Spending Welfare $ on Alcohol, Cigarettes...and Psychics. (Link!)

          It's sad that we even have to discuss the need for a law prohibiting these sorts of things.  Welfare dollars being spent on booze? On cigarettes?  At strip clubs?  I'm sure it's not a stretch to the imagination for most people.  Corruption exists among the rich and poor alike.  But these problems are certainly no endorsement of the welfare system in general.  Alabama is trying to join states all over the nation which are passing laws banning such use of welfare dollars.  And before someone argues that such laws are just partisan politics at play, consider that this state bill introduced by an Alabama Republican is very similar to a new national bill just signed into law by President Obama.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gun Control - The Solution or the Scapegoat?


            The tragic events in Aurora, Colorado last week are still rippling throughout the country.  In the wake of such a heinous crime, it's natural to ask what could have been done to prevent such senseless killing.  The options are many, however I’m not sure any of them would have prevented something like this from happening.  Many point to gun laws, and argue that further restricting the availability of guns is the best solution.  I have even heard some argue that the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (establishing the fundamental right to bear arms) should be repealed, in favor of laws totally restricting the possession of firearms to those serving in law enforcement or military.  Personally, I find this argument unpersuasive and absurd.  It is my understanding that the primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to allow the people (that’s us) to stand against tyrannical governments that no longer functioned for the people.  Another purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to provide the individual with the ability to protect him or herself from others.  As it’s been argued countless times before, a dangerous criminal is bound to find a gun whether legally or illegally, and whether they are readily available or not. 

            So, short of a repeal of the 2nd Amendment or some sort of a complete ban on personal use firearms, should we further restrict the acquisition and possession of firearms?  Perhaps to the level of a county such as Norway, which completely bans automatic weapons, limits ownership of handguns to one gun per caliber, and forbids the carrying of loaded guns, among other strict regulations?  While this may sound appealing to many, keep in mind that one of the world’s worst mass murders occurred one year ago yesterday – in Norway, by a Norwegian named Anders Breivik.  Breivik went on an orchestrated killing spree, which lasted around 90 minutes, and left around 70 dead and many more wounded.  While I would never second guess the actions taken by the innocent victims in Norway, I do wonder how things may have been different if looser gun laws would have allowed one of those victims to carry a weapon for self defense.  How many lives could have been spared, if the killer wasn’t the only person there with a gun?  As is the case in Norway, the United States, and every other country on the planet, sick, deranged people walk in our midst everyday.  No matter how strict the gun laws are, every once in a while, these things are going to happen.  I believe rather than tighten gun laws, all we can really do is try to look out for each other and be aware of the mental state of those around us – and never allow the actions of a monster to steal the freedoms granted to us under our Constitution.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Woman Jailed After Warning Motorists of Speed Trap

            A woman in Texas was jailed for 12 hours after she held up a sign warning drivers that police officers were pulling cars over for speeding.  According to the woman, she was standing on the sidewalk at the time. According to the officer she was standing in the road, and thus he arrested her for that, not for holding up the sign.  It seems somewhat unlikely that a person would be arrested and jailed for any period of time for an offense such as standing in the road.  Who knows which person is telling the truth, but let’s assume the woman was lawfully standing on the sidewalk and the officer was irritated by her warnings to other motorist.  Does the First Amendment protect a person’s right to warn other motorists of a speed trap or is that some form of obstruction of justice? 

            Currently, I have a client who has been charged with hindering prosecution because she allegedly provided the authorities with “misinformation” after U.S. Marshals asked her about the whereabouts of a suspected criminal.  While we maintain her innocence in this matter, I will say that if my client did knowingly provide such false information, under the statute, she would be guilty of the crime with which she is charged. 

            So is warning drivers of an approaching speed trap analogous to my client’s situation?  Is it hindering prosecution or some other form of obstruction?  Or is it constitutionally protected free speech?  And what’s the difference between this woman’s actions and the occasional public service announcements we hear informing us of a “take back the highways” blitz where State Troopers are beefing up their highway patrols (such as during this week’s holiday)?  Aren’t this woman’s actions and those public service announcements both aimed at slowing people down before they receive a ticket?

Did the Obamacare vote almost go the other way?

          There's been a lot of speculation over what led to Chief Justice Roberts' vote in upholding Obamacare and whether he changed his mind at some point.  Sometimes the Justices will discuss their general feelings towards the law and their opinions on how the Constitution should be interpreted, but getting commentary on a particular decision may be unlikely.  This article may be as close as we get for some time.  Did Roberts switch his vote?