Wednesday, 2006 May 10, 10:10 — constitution

King Numbers

You may have heard me advocate abolition of the US judiciary, as a way to restore some of the tension between Federal and State authorities that Publius considered so important.

Failing that, I’ve also proposed to eliminate the “jackpot” effect by allowing each President to nominate a fixed number of Supreme Court Justices per term, irrespective of vacancies. It turns out that one appointment per Congress would be about right: the present Congress is the 109th, and 110 persons so far have sat on that bench. (Followup)

Tuesday, 2005 December 20, 14:56 — constitution, history

after this I’ll try to leave the TwoPercenters alone

In an otherwise generally sound call for separation of church and state, 2%Co had this to say about democracy in Dixie (1789-1865):

. . . These slaves didn’t always like their lot in life, but according to your logic, Mrs Gong, they should have just shut up and slaved away. Hey, rule by the majority, right? They even had a nifty way of making sure that the white folks stayed in the majority — they made black folk equal to only 3/5 of a person. What a great deal! . . .

I put my quixotic toe in:

I’m surprised to see this [common] misconception propagated by such enlightened people. . . . If the slavers had their way at the Convention of 1787, slaves would have been counted fully, not 3/5. It was the Northerners who wanted slaves counted for zero. . . .

After going around a couple of times, 2%Co apparently agree with this point (though to avoid conceding that I said something accurate they present it as their own), but insist that it supports their original statement — and threaten to delete any further posts from me. It appears that they have done so, so I’ll repeat my conclusion here (as best I can recall it):

Now I admit I’m not clever enough to see how these statements can both be accurate, viz that it was in the interest of the same faction to reduce the representation of slaves in the census and to increase it; or why, given that slaves had no vote, any nifty trick was needed to ensure they remained a minority. If you can resolve this seeming contradiction, I’ll be delighted at learning something new; if you can say “oops” and move on, I’ll be impressed with your integrity. Since you refuse to do either, I guess I’m left with the hope that another reader – if you have any – will help me out.

Monday, 2005 December 19, 09:21 — constitution, drugwar

the double standard

Some conservatives, like my old schoolmate Eric Rasmusen, say that rather than excluding tainted evidence (i.e., evidence acquired in violation of the Fourth Amendment) from trials, courts ought to admit whatever credible evidence exists and punish the cops for the illegal search. Eric makes an interesting point about the exclusion policy:

That is a remedy that is useless to someone whose house was searched who was innocent of any crime, since the evidence wouldn’t be useful against them anyway. Rather, our current policy is to only compensate guilty criminals, and, by putting the the compensation in the form of evidence suppression, to compensate them precisely to the extent that they deserve punishment. The compensation has no relation whatsoever to the degree to which the search was illegal.

Radley Balko says:

For my upcoming paper on no-knock and short-notice drug raids, I’ve researched probably close to a hundred examples of botched drug raids, where cops clearly conducted a middle-of-the-night raid on an innocent person or family. Thus far, I haven’t found a single incident in which police themselves were ever charged with a crime for either raiding the wrong home, or shooting someone once inside.

Can this practical immunity be changed by a wave of the wand? What DA will prosecute a cop for bringing in, y’know, someone that the DA wants to prosecute? (Does England still allow private prosecutions?) What jury – routinely screened of anyone likely to question authority – will convict a cop who, like Starsky & Hutch, bends the rules a bit for the greater alleged good?

Sunday, 2005 December 11, 14:29 — constitution, security theater

small tragedies

One of the sickening things about this war is watching people who used to call themselves libertarians go out of their way to sweep state abuses under a rug of narrow legalism. The latest example to get my attention is Eric Raymond’s defense of the practice of disappearing those designated as enemies.

Monday, 2005 September 12, 21:37 — constitution, history

Horatio Bunce and Davy Crockett

A friend asked me why Ron Paul voted against a hurricane relief bill; was there something poisonous in it, or did he think it would be ineffective? I replied that I would expect Dr Paul to vote against any such bill on Constitutional grounds; and appended a link to the story, familiar to some of you, of how Davy Crockett was turned away from the Dark Side (or, as you may prefer, toward it).

Google’s first example of the story happens to be on Ron Paul’s own website. Rereading, I found that the text of that copy appears to be somewhat corrupt; so I looked for others. Indeed, the full story is substantially longer and more instructive. Copies at: Lew Rockwell; Patrick Henry On-Line (Martin Lindstedt); SlimPickins; Return of the Gods; TRIM (John Birch Society) (broken links removed 2020)

Later: Walter Williams collects some quotations from other early politicians on the same theme.

2020: The story is repeated at, Healing and Revival, Constitution Society, Foundation for Economic Education; and debunked at Jim’s Corner.

Friday, 2005 June 24, 08:38 — constitution

Kelo v. New London

State control of the economy, maintaining the forms but not the substance of private property — isn’t that a definition of fascism?

I’ve been puzzled, by the way, at the argument that the Fifth Amendment allows takings only for ‘public use’. Seems to me the plain language of it restricts only such takings, leaving takings for private use wide open.

Tuesday, 2005 June 7, 00:07 — constitution, drugwar

commiseration to Ms Raich

Reading an account of oral arguments in Ashcroft Gonzales v. Raich, a couple of months ago, gave me a sinking feeling: the Court was clearly hostile and the good guys were failing to make what I considered obvious points.

Guess what, folks, the Court’s flirtation with federalism was no more serious than you’d expect it to be in a body appointed by the Potomac Regime. (See also. The view hypothetically attributed to Scalia, a dissenter in Lawrence v. Texas, is explicitly echoed by O’Connor’s dissent in Raich.)

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