Proposals should be judged on their merits, not on whether they would have prevent a single given attack.
All this talk about reading Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda Rights misses the point: the fifth amendment of the US Constitution already protects American citizens from compelled self-incrimination, even if they’re not “Mirandized” (indeed, the practice has only been around nationwide since 1966). Similarly, the sixth amendment right to counsel remains intact for all citizens, regardless of whether they’re mass murderers or of foreign descent.
I’ve long noticed that those who profess the most love for our constitution are also among the most adamant about defying it — or just as worse, are often most the ignorant about it.
(Photo: Niall Carson/Press Association via AP)
A paralyzed Irish woman who says she is living in severe agony cannot commit suicide with the help of her partner, Ireland’s Supreme Court ruled Monday.
Ugh. Ireland. Can you stop?
The Supreme Court is poised to take up the question of whether human genes can be patented. But some say advances in the field may blunt the impact of its ruling.
Junius Stinney was the youngest person in America to be executed on death row in 1944 at age 14. He was quickly accused by the (white police) of ‘killing’ two little (white girls) with lack of evidence. His conviction and sentencing opened and closed in one day. There were no witnesses called and there was no transcript of the trial details and black people were not allowed inside the courtroom during that time.
[I always repost this because i don’t want anyone to forget about him!]
Stinney walked to the execution chamber with a Bible, under his arm, which he later used as a booster seat in the electric chair. Standing 5’1” and weighing just over 90 pounds, he was small for his age, which presented difficulties in securing him to the frame holding the electrodes. The state’s adult-sized face-mask did not fit him, and when he was hit with the first 2,400 V surge of electricity, the mask covering his face slipped off, “revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth”…After two more jolts of electricity, the boy was dead.” Stinney was declared dead within four minutes of the initial electrocution. From the time of the murders until Stinney’s execution, eighty-one days had passed
Two people were arrested in Britain Thursday over an assault on an “emo” teenager — the first such move after police began recording attacks on subculture members as “hate crimes.”
The term, short for “emotive” or “emotional,” usually refers to an introspective style of music — somewhere between punk and grunge — and its associated fashion styles.
Earlier this month, Greater Manchester Police became the first force in the U.K. to treat attacks on groups such as goths, emos and punks in the same way as crimes based on race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
The victim “describes himself as an emo,” police said in a statement, adding that officers had arrested a 14-year-old boy and a 44-year-old man over the attack.
“The assault has been reported as an alternative subculture hate crime and will be investigated as such,” the statement added.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said the injured teen was hit “several times.”
Garry Shewan, assistant chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: “It is unfortunate that this incident happened, but the fact we were able to identify this as a hate crime is very positive. Just last Thursday we announced that we will now record alternative subculture as a hate motivation.”
“We hope this encourages victims to continue to come forward so we can take positive action against offenders,” he added.
In England, a hate crime is defined by prosecutors as “a criminal offense motivated by prejudice based on a person’s disability, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”
The decision by police to include subcultures was partly a result of the 2007 killing of Sophie Lancaster, a 20-year-old in the northern England county of Lancashire, who was kicked and stamped to death for being a goth
Seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons’ suicide was the harrowing end to a story involving not only sexual assault, but also the issues of harassment and victim-blaming that are problematic symptoms of rape culture. According to her mother Leah Parsons’ post on her Facebook, Rehtaeh was subject to significant bullying from her peers, who labeled her as a “slut”:
“The [p]erson Rehtaeh once was all changed one dreaded night in November 2011. She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home she was raped by four young boys…one of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community where it quickly went viral. Because the boys already had a “slut” story, the victim of the rape Rehtaeh was considered a SLUT.”
Parsons didn’t know about the assault until days after it happened, when Rehteah broke down in the kitchen crying. At that point, it was too late for a rape kit — which may have contributed to the fact that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) dropped their investigation after a year without charges.
But there were other issues with the investigation as well, Parsons told the Halifax Chronicle Herald: “[t]hey didn’t even interview the boys until much, much later” and “nothing was done about [the photos] because they couldn’t prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone.” She was told that even the distribution of the photos was “not really a criminal issue,” despite the fact that Rehtaeh was 15 at the time, meaning the photos constituted child pornography.
While the investigation was ongoing, Rehtaeh struggled with anger and depression leading to her hospitalization on one occasion. She also moved to a different city to avoid harassment of her peers, including a barrage of texts asking “Will you have sex with me?” and telling her “You’re such a slut.” The Steubenville victim similarly faced harassing text messages after her identity was revealed by news coverage, including threats resulting in charges against two teens.
Scientists, including those at the F.D.A., have been recommending unrestricted access for years, as have major medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2011, the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, issued a statement saying that after rigorous study the agency concluded it was safe to sell Plan B One-Step over the counter. But she was overruled by Ms. Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, the first time such a public countermanding had ever occurred.
Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
The unanimous US Supreme Court ruling in Loving vs. Virginia (1967), which struck down state laws that banned interracial marriage. Replace all reference to race with sexual orientation or sexual identity, and there is little difference.
Homosexuality laws around the world.
- Dark Blue — Same-sex marriage legal
- Blue — Other type of partnership legal (e.g. civil unions)
- Green — Foreign same-sex marriage recognized.
- Gray — No recognition of same-sex couples.
- Yellow — Minimal penalty for homosexuality, typically not enforced.
- Orange — Heavy penalty for homosexual acts (e.g. fine, prison, or public beating).
- Dark Orange — Life in prison for being gay.
- Red — Homosexuals executed (rings denote nations in which left up to local judges or varies case by case).
In the period of the review, there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence. During the same period there were 35 prosecutions for making false allegations of rape, six for making false allegation of domestic violence and three for making false allegations of both rape and domestic violence.
It’s a long read, but it’s well worth it, for it reveals that the seemingly recent growth of executive power — namely through the national security apparatus — has been decades in the making. It was especially (though not solely) intensified by none other than Ronald Reagan, widely regarded as a defend of American freedom and values.
In December 1981, Reagan signed the executive order 12333 undoing the previous decades’ reforms with the stroke of a pen. For cover, Reagan’s people planted fake scare stories through Jack Anderson about non-existent Libyan assassination squads infiltrating U.S. borders, waterskiing their way across the Great Plains to spring John Hinckley and wreak havoc on the American Way of Life.
And that is the back story to Reagan’s executive order 12333, the one that allegedly banned assassinations and allegedly made him so much more progressive than Bush or Obama.
Reagan not only gave the CIA carte blanche in the US to spy, but he also massively expanded the powers of the FBI and law enforcement to spy on Americans domestically with another executive order in 1983, paving the way for a repeat of all the awful abuses uncovered by Sen. Church, which only started coming to light at the end of Reagan’s presidency.
In other words, there is arguably a legal precedence for the drone attacks, warrantless wiretapping, legal opaqueness, and other questionable government practices. Indeed, the courts have been either willing to abide by these actions, or forced to begrudgingly accept their legality given the precedence. Excess and unaccountable state power is not only being further entrenched in our system, but it’s been intricately established within it for some time. Needless to say, that’s very troubling.
A major reason why U.S. constitutional law is difficult and American judges are powerful is that the Constitution is not a particularly precise document. The Ninth Amendment provides that “[t]he enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” but it provides absolutely no guidance whatsoever on what those other rights could be. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from abridging the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” and it prevents the loss of life, liberty or property “without due process of law.” What are the “privileges or immunities” protected by the Constitution? The Constitution doesn’t say! And the Supreme Court’s answer to this question is rather ridiculous.
Because the Constitution is so imprecisely drafted, judges have at times wielded it as a tool to impose their own policy preferences on the law. After all, nothing in the Constitution doesn’t say that the word “liberty” means the liberty to work in a grueling job that literally tears your lungs apart from the inside without the benefit of workplace safety laws or other basic labor protections. Indeed, that was more or less the holding of the Supreme Court’s 1905 opinion inLochner v. New York.
Beginning in the 1930s, the Supreme Court more or less came to terms with the fact that judges were fabricating imaginary constitutional restrictions, and that this was a bad thing. Indeed, probably the most important question addressed by Twentieth Century constitutional law and scholarship was how to reconcile the legitimate need for judges to police the boundaries of liberty with the fact that the Constitution provides them with little guidance on how to do so. An unelected Supreme Court had recently engaged in overreach that harmed the most vulnerable Americans and struck down laws enacted by elected representatives in the process, and this situation was untenable. But a Court that simply gave Congress free reign to engage in racism or sexism or to toss people in jail for no reason would be equally intolerable.
One of the best, and most influential answers to this dilemma came in a 1938 case called United States v. Carolene Products. Carolene Products suggested that judges should step into the breach when a law “restricts those political processes which can ordinarily be expected to bring about repeal of undesirable legislation.” Thus, when lawmakers enact “restrictions upon the right to vote,” limit the ready availability of information to voters, or restrict political organizing, judges must remedy the situation. Carolene Products also provides that judges must enforce the Bill of Rights and other explicit constitutional protections, and that it must prevent discrimination against certain minority groups, but in most circumstances, we are governed by democratically elected representatives and judges should defer to officials who can actually be voted out of office.
n the hierarchy of information, most would agree that it’s more important to know whether someone is a rapist than whether someone is failing Chem 100. But administrators at Oklahoma State University apparently misunderstood the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act, which grants students some rights to privacy about their grades and other information. Nevertheless, in a moment of over-zealousness, the university decided not to go to the police multiple times to report alleged sexual assaults, because it—it says—it was worried about violating this privacy act.
Oklahoma State’s interpretation of the act was incorrect; the legislation allows administrations to call the campus police to investigate crimes. Whether the school genuinely misunderstood to act or used it as a shield to avoid reporting allegations of sexual assault remains unclear.
This news comes amidst the University of North Carolina continues to cause controversy over its efforts to intimidate a female student who has been outspoken about her sexual assault.
The first clue that things are done very differently on Bastoy prison island, which lies a couple of miles off the coast in the Oslo fjord, 46 miles south-east of Norway’s capital, comes shortly after I board the prison ferry. I’m taken aback slightly when the ferry operative who welcomed me aboard just minutes earlier, and with whom I’m exchanging small talk about the weather, suddenly reveals he is a serving prisoner – doing 14 years for drug smuggling. He notes my surprise, smiles, and takes off a thick glove before offering me his hand. “I’m Petter,” he says.
Before he transferred to Bastoy, Petter was in a high-security prison for nearly eight years. “Here, they give us trust and responsibility,” he says. “They treat us like grownups.” I haven’t come here particularly to draw comparisons, but it’s impossible not to consider how politicians and the popular media would react to a similar scenario in Britain.
There are big differences between the two countries, of course. Norway has a population of slightly less than five million, a 12th of the UK’s. It has fewer than 4,000 prisoners; there are around 84,000 in the UK. But what really sets us apart is the Norwegian attitude towards prisoners. Four years ago I was invited into Skien maximum security prison, 20 miles north of Oslo. I had heard stories about Norway’s liberal attitude. In fact, Skien is a concrete fortress as daunting as any prison I have ever experienced and houses some of the most serious law-breakers in the country. Recently it was the temporary residence of Anders Breivik, the man who massacred 77 people in July 2011.
Despite the seriousness of their crimes, however, I found that the loss of liberty was all the punishment they suffered. Cells had televisions, computers, integral showers and sanitation. Some prisoners were segregated for various reasons, but as the majority served their time – anything up to the 21-year maximum sentence (Norway has no death penalty or life sentence) – they were offered education, training and skill-building programmes. Instead of wings and landings they lived in small “pod” communities within the prison, limiting the spread of the corrosive criminal prison subculture that dominates traditionally designed prisons. The teacher explained that all prisons in Norway worked on the same principle, which he believed was the reason the country had, at less than 30%, the lowest reoffending figures in Europe and less than half the rate in the UK.