Tag: Law

Stop and Search: Doing More Harm Than Good?

Luke David Boswell | United Kingdom

There is currently a contentious debate over whether police powers, such as stop and search, are lacking or are too powerful in the United Kingdom. The intents and purposes of these police powers are to protect the public and enforce the rules of society. However, it emerges that those we trust with our protection may be liable for the deaths of innocents. Although these cases have become headliners raising important issues within the police force, is it fair to label the entirety of the police as liable? Or is it only the “few bad apples”?

However, these powers are subject to abuse, often times by white police officers. Cases occur where they routinely stereotype minority groups in stop and search. Evidently, this suggests that stricter regulations are necessary to control the extent of the police’s power. The idea of such regulations would be to prevent the formation of systematic racism and profiling.

Stop and Search

Stop and search is one of the police’s most scrutinized and controversial powers, due to the common occurrence of innocent people being stopped and searched. Under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, a stop and search are only permitted when the police have reasonable suspicion to do so.  Code A (paragraph 2.2), mentions that a stop and search cannot take place when solely based on personal factors. Additionally, Code A states that the stop and search must be utilized “fairly, responsibly, with respect and without unlawful discrimination”. The goal is to prevent discrimination against civilians on the basis of race, creed, age, or appearance.

Racial Issues

Despite these regulations, there are doubts that stop and search is on a tight enough leash. Out of the 300,000 stop and searches in England and Wales during the 2016/17 period, there were 4 stop and searches for every 1,000 white people, with 29 stop and searches for every 1,000 black people. This statistic shows that black people are 8 times more likely than white people to be the subject of a stop and search. Clearly, this demonstrates an inequality and perhaps a prejudice in who the police choose to stop and search.

However, statistics may be misleading alone. Due to government housing programmes, the vast majority of minority groups live in high crime and unemployment areas. This culminates a cycle of poverty, disillusionment with the authorities and subsequent crime.

No Reasonable Suspicion Necessary

There are, in fact, legal clauses for police to perform stop and search absent of reasonable suspicion. Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, states that the police do not need reasonable suspicion to stop and search in designated areas. A crime occurring in a specific area and the police having limited time to secure the area and all possible suspects in it would be an example of the practical beneficial use of this clause. However, this clause could also be an excuse to unjustly target an area of a certain ethnicity.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, states that random stop and searches in ‘the fight against terrorism’ have no need for reasonable suspicion. The majority of the abuse of stop and search has occurred under this clause. In Gillan and Quinton v UK, both of the appellants were stopped and searched near an arms fair under Section 44.

Gillan and Quinton were journalists partaking in a peaceful protest against the arms fair. It didn’t help that the police did not recover anything in this search. After this incident, the appellants bought their case to the European Court of Justice. The court held that the stop and search violated the appellant’s rights. Their ruling upheld that the search was unnecessary and Section 44 did not apply.

Where is the line?

There is a very fine line that police have to walk. Powers that are necessary for protection are also easily subject to abuse. How to ensure that police do not cross the line is a pressing issue for the United Kingdom today.

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3 Times Anarcho-Capitalist Private Law Has Worked

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Everything is scarce. Time, space, human bodies, and all resources are limited. For each of them, there is a finite amount. Because of this finite amount, there are bound to be conflicts over who gets to use what. There will be conflict over who gets to use a piece of land or use a resource.

Continue reading “3 Times Anarcho-Capitalist Private Law Has Worked”

Although Beneficial, Vaccination Should Be Entirely Voluntary

indri Schaelicke | United States

Undoubtedly one of the greatest medical innovations in human history is the invention of the vaccine. The science of vaccination was first seriously pioneered by Edward Jenner in 1796, when he noticed that milkmaids who had caught cowpox before became immune to smallpox later. To test his theory that humans could develop immunity, Jenner took pus from a milkmaid with cowpox and put it into a cut in the arm of an 8-year-old boy. Six weeks later, he inoculated the same boy with smallpox, observing that he did not catch smallpox. Based on his findings, he was able to develop the first vaccines.

Continue reading “Although Beneficial, Vaccination Should Be Entirely Voluntary”

Confirming Kavanaugh is Republicans’ Duty

Glenn Verasco | Thailand
I do not know who Casey Mattox is, but a June tweet of his popped up in my Twitter feed the other day:
I rate this a perfect tweet. It is both concise and evergreen.
The Supreme Court of the United States is supposed to be the clear third of three branches of the federal government. The Judicial Branch is not supposed to make laws or give orders of any kind. Courts are meant to determine the constitutional legality of disputed actions between individuals and groups. The legislature legislates, the executive executes, and the judiciary judges. It’s not a difficult concept. Unfortunately, bad-faith reading of the Constitution has resulted in a politicized court system in which many actually make the ridiculous argument that judges should conjecture what the consequences of a law will be, instead of simply reading the law itself, and rule based on those assumptions. SCOTUS Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor do not even try to hide their use of this method when writing decisions from the bench. As outraged as everyone should be with the state of liberal jurisprudence, Brett Kavanaugh is not my ideal Supreme Court justice either. As Judge Napolitano has eloquently explained, Kavanaugh’s understanding of the 4th Amendment is wrongheaded and dangerous. If this were the case being made against Kavanaugh, I would be all ears. Instead of criticizing the processes and actions of the federal government based on constitutionality, philosophy, and the individual human rights the United States of America was founded upon, hazy memories from many decades ago, that have conveniently resurfaced exclusively in their owners’ minds only as Kavanaugh’s illustrious career is set to culminate in the highest court in the land, are being used to railroad his confirmation. The accusations made against Kavanaugh are unverifiable and uncorroborated within themselves. They are also immaterial to the situation at hand. As someone who generally disagrees with but respects Ronan Farrow, I am shocked and disappointed that he agreed to publish something as salacious, hazy, and irrelevant as his September 24th story. Its publishing undermines the credibility of actual sexual assault victims and needlessly politicizes the #MeToo movement which the entire country, albeit to varying degrees, is generally supportive of. The point of view of the Democrats regarding this matter deserves no consideration from honest and thoughtful people. They decided to vote against Kavanaugh as soon as he was nominated and almost entirely forewent asking relevant questions during his confirmation hearings. Instead, they delayed the process on the basis of arcane technicalities and focused on creating sound bites and video clips throughout the duration of an agonizing and embarrassing process. They have since done their best to capitalize on allegations against Kavanaugh to delay his confirmation even further, certainly hoping that they can run out the clock through midterm elections or at least keep Kavanaugh from being confirmed before the Supreme Court begins their October session. GOP Senators now have a choice. They can allow the media and opposing political party to bully and shame them into submission, or they can grow a pair by taking a stand against a ballooning culture of hyperbole and hysteria. The GOP Senators will set a historical precedent either way. The former choice would make it clear that loosely-characterized sexual assault allegations from decades ago are a political weapon they will not fight back against. This will be the end of the current GOP and likely the end of textualist jurisprudence in the Supreme Court for decades. The latter choice would promote the dignity of the accused and take the wind out of bad-faith political actors’ sails, at least for the time being. I am not a Republican and have never voted for a Republican. I registered as a Democrat when I first became eligible to vote and will officially become a member of the Libertarian Party in 2019. If GOP Senators cave, they can bet that more and more of their constituents will join me in the LP or simply stay home and laugh as Democrats wipe the floor with them in November.

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Quick Thoughts on the Kavanaugh Allegations

By Glenn Verasco | Thailand

I would like to share a few thoughts about the sexual assault allegations that Christene Blasey Ford is making against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh. This is meant to be an analysis, not a summary, so I do not overtly describe the details of the allegation. But basically, she accused him of sexual assault against her when the two were teenagers. The bullet points below sum up an analysis of the situation.

Sexual Assault

  • Being 17 and drunk does not excuse sexual assault.
  • What constitutes sexual assault is not well-defined or well-understood. The lines between playing around, making a sexual advance towards someone, having a momentary slip in judgment, and earnestly attempting to force someone into a sexual encounter can be blurry. It is even blurrier for teenagers and was certainly even blurrier for teenagers of yesteryear.
  • As a socially liberal individual, I do not believe that government or public oversight of teenage sexual interaction is a good idea. Sex and human relationships are generally too complicated for third parties to be able to fully comprehend, so authorities should only be consulted in extreme circumstances. Otherwise, young people, as well as adults, should be free to take risks amongst each other.

The Law

  • As the alleged incident between Kavanaugh and Ford took place 35 years ago, we are long past the statute of limitations. This issue is about conduct and character, not the law.
  • Although our legal system places the burden of proof on the accuser and presumes non-guilt until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, this is irrelevant in the court of public opinion or SCOTUS nominations.
  • Believing someone is innocent until proven guilty is a value that I happen to share, but outside a court of law, it is a personal view, not a legal one. Reasonable people can disagree here.

The Sniff Test

  • Christene Blasey Ford is probably telling the truth, at least in part. There is some documented history of Ford discussing the matter in the past, and it is hard to imagine that she or anyone else would make up a story like this completely out of thin air.
  • Remembering the exact details of an event from 35 years ago is impossible for both Kavanaugh and Ford. Our brains remember certain details of our history, and our imaginations fill in the rest. This makes it difficult to accept either party’s version of the story without substantial evidence or witness testimony.
  • Emotion can also cloud our judgment as what we feel we experienced may not mirror what we actually experienced.
  • Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz defended Al Franken when he was accused of sexual misconduct, saying, “He did not do this as a member of the U.S. Senate.” This is obviously true, but, unlike Kavanaugh, Franken was an adult when his misconduct took place. Katz appears to be a partisan lawyer, not an impartial defender of the Constitution or human rights.
  • Ford is on the left-wing of the political spectrum, and thus, certainly has a political bias against a textualist judge like Kavanaugh.
  • Neither Katz’s nor Ford’s partisanship has any bearing on the accuracy of Ford’s story, but it does make them less credible.
  • Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend also accused of assault, deny the allegations wholesale.
  • By all accounts, the alleged incident between Kavanaugh and Ford is in no way representative of Kavanaugh as a person. However, one’s generally saintly behavior does not negate one’s sins.

Politics

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein knew of Ford’s allegations before Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing but chose not to question him about it in any way. Feinstein is obviously using Ford’s story as a political weapon, which is shameful.
  • Regardless of how true Ford’s allegations are, Feinstein clearly timed the release of her name and story as a way to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination in the 11th hour. The Senate vote to confirm him is scheduled to finish within a week.
  • Democratic Senators have been against Kavanaugh’s confirmation since long before his confirmation hearings and put on an embarrassing and hysterical display of partisanship during them. This includes attempting to smear Kavanaugh’s assistant as a white nationalist for momentarily resting her hand in the “a-okay” position, which some in the media falsely describe as a racist dog whistle.
  • Senate Republicans can afford to delay the vote for at least another month without any risk of losing the Senate or their ability to confirm justices without any Democrat support in November’s midterms (though Senate Judiciary Committee rules may come into play here).
  • Up until Democrats blocked Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork, there was little partisanship in these proceedings. Before Bork, the average SCOTUS nominee received 87% Senate approval and 49% were confirmed unanimously. Since Bork, partisanship in voting has dramatically increased, especially from Democrats.
  • Trump’s first SCOTUS nominee, Neil Gorsuch, had no allegations of misconduct of any kind. Yet, the Senate confirmed him by a slim margin of 54-45, and only three Democrats voted in his favor. Justice Alito received only four votes from Democrats in 2005. This shows that many Democrats are clearly in it for the politics, rather than justice or character.
  • Republicans have certainly become much more partisan too, refusing to even hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s last SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland, arguing that it is tradition to deny a lame duck president’s nominations until after ensuing elections.
  • It can be argued that 11th-hour sexual assault allegations to derail SCOTUS nominations sets a terrible precedent, but with as much partisanship as we are seeing now, the precedent has already been set.

Summary

  • The allegations against Kavanaugh should not be categorically denied, but should certainly not be believed at face value. Both Republicans and Democrats are playing politics, and it is unclear to me that Kavanaugh’s alleged discretions are so damning that he should be denied an opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court. If Republicans have a way to investigate the situation and still have time to nominate Kavanaugh before midterms, they should do so. However, it would be hard to blame them for proceeding as planned as there is nothing they can do to satisfy the Democrats short of leaving Justice Kennedy’s seat vacant until a left-wing justice is nominated.
  • President Trump could have avoided this mess by nominating Amy Coney Barrett instead of Kavanaugh. Besides being a far better judge, nominating a woman would have taken the #MeToo card out of Democrats’ hands.

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