Thursday, July 13, 2006

American Criminal Liberties Union: STOP THE ACLU Blogburst!

Crossposted from STOP THE ACLU

I am going to assume that most people can agree that America's population is
found across a vast political spectrum. From libertarians and liberals to
moderates and conservatives we find each other across a broad field on ideas and
issues. Many times we can all agree that certain things are problems within
society yet be on the opposite extremes on how to solve that problem. One of
the problems of society that most people can agree on is that of crime. The
solution to reducing this problem most likely is found somewhere in the middle
and not the extremes.

One of the purposes of the Constitution is to ensure domestic
tranquility. Due process, the Fifth Amendment right, is a procedural right, one
that defines the methods that can properly be used to ensure domestic
tranquility. Without both, there can be no liberty. Domestic tranquility can
easily be achieved without respect for due process, as dictatorships throughout
history have shown. It is also quite possible to have a society where due process is respected-even considered sacrosanct-and still lack for
domestic tranquility. The latter predicament more closely resembles the
situation in the United States today.Source


The ACLU in its extreme ideals of society unravels due process from the reasons
it was created to serve. The ACLU maintains that it is their purpose to ensure
due process and the police to tend to domestic tranquility. I agree that the
roles should be separate. I think the opposite would be an invitation to
disaster. The ACLU's sincerity in their statement might be more believable if,
as we shall show, they were not so often in opposition of law enforcement. It
is generally accepted that domestic tranquility is absolutely necessary to the
process of liberty. What is often less understood is how the exclusive concern
for due process can also be damaging to liberty.

I think we can all agree on how important domestic tranquility is to maintaining liberty. What good are all of our freedoms if
we are afraid to practice them? The only liberties worth having are ones that
we can enjoy without fear. This simply can't be done if a society is filled
with crime and violence.

The ACLU do not share these moderate views on society. They have a much more
extreme viewpoint.

"According to the ACLU," writes Jeffrey Leeds, "there is no right to
live in a quiet or pleasant society, but there is a right to speak, to seek to
persuade, to have unpopular or even stupid views. Moreover, there is no right
even to live in a safe society. The ACLU will work to vindicate a convicted
criminal's rights to due process, even if it means setting a killer free."Source


Leeds isn't exaggerating. One ACLU official Dorothy Ehrlich can be quoted as
saying, "the citizens' need to be 'free from criminal activity'....is not, in
the legal sense, a 'right' at all (and thus is nowhere mentioned in the Bill of Rights)
but, rather, an essential social good, like fire prevention, or adequate medical
care, or the prevention of famine." Source

Funny that an official from the ACLU is stating that if a right isn't mentioned
in the Constitution then it isn't a right at all. After all, this is the
organization that defends abortion on demand, and the sale of child porn. These are not
mentioned in the Constitution either.

The ACLU's skewed views toward crime can also be seen in its approach toward
crime victims. The ACLU has shown very little interest in the rights of crime
victims. When it comes down to it, the rights of criminals seem to always
override the rights of the victims. For example, the ACLU opposes the use of a
crime victim impact statement in capital sentencing because it "unconstitutionally requires
consideration of factors which have no bearing on the defendant's responsibility
or guilt." Of course the courts have ruled otherwise.

While the ACLU says they have our liberty as its mission, its policies in the
area of criminal justice have only aggravated and accelerated the already
terrible problems of maintaining domestic tranquility. Their opposition to the death penalty doesn't bother me by itself.
It is the ACLU general attitude toward criminal justice as a whole that I deem
dangerous. Throughout its history it has fought many court battles to:

Eliminate all prison sentencing from criminal judicial procedure
except in a few "extreme" cases of utter incorrigibility-and only then as the
penalty of last resort.Source


Let me briefly interrupt my list for a little perspective on this particular
policy.

In conjunction with their opposition to the death penalty in all
cases
this particular policy is quite disturbing to me. It would seem
that the ACLU wants rehabilitation and probation to be the primary means of
preventing crime in all but the most extreme cases.

"Deprivation of an individual's physical freedom is one of the most
severe interferences with liberty that the state can impose. Moreover,
imprisonment is harsh, frequently counterproductive, and costly." This explains
why the ACLU holds that "a suspended sentence with probation should be the
preferred sentence, to be chosen generally unless the circumstances plainly call
for greater severity." The Union favors alternative sentencing and lists the
reintegration of the offender into the community as "the most appropriate
correctional approach." Here's the clincher: "probation should be authorized by
the legislature in every case and exceptions to the principle are not favored."
Prior to 1991, when this policy was revised, the Union said that only such
serious crimes as "murder or treason" should qualify as exceptions. The
explicit referencing of those two crimes was deleted because of the public
embarrassment it caused the organization.Source


Let us continue with the list:

Disallow capital punishment in any and all
situations as a violation of the constitution's "cruel and unusual punishment"
clause;

Discredit deterrence as a basis for incarceration;

Oppose rehabilitative confinement;

Block all sentencing guidelines that seek restitution to the victims of criminal
behavior;

Mandate suspended sentences with probation as the primary form of "treatment"
for criminal offenders;

Restrict all court sentencing discretion through the legislative process or
direct judicial intervention in trial proceedings-thus severely crippling the principle of trial
by jury;

Eliminate all mandatory sentencing laws;

Facilitate mandatory early parole and release programs;

And, oppose new construction or expansion of jails, prisons, and detention
centers. Source


In addition the ACLU is also involved in limiting the power of law enforcement
to maintain domestic tranquility:

Severely restrict search and arrest procedures even when evidence of
guilt is available;

Hinder protective or corrective police action at crime scenes;

Invalidate airport bomb detectors, drunk driving checkpoints, periodic or random
drug screening, and other preventative security measures;

Prohibit the free exchange of criminal records between law enforcement agencies;

Limit even the most sound and non-prejudicial police interrogation and
investigation techniques;

Institute national or regional bureaucratic control over law enforcement
agencies-thus effectively, removing local accountability;

Severely restrict riot control, swat team, and antiterrorist activities and
efforts;

Make most surveillance operations, stakeout procedures, and community crackdowns
illegal;

Prohibit the eviction of drug dealers and other incorrigibles from public
housing projects;

Deregulate and decriminalize all "victimless crimes"-such as prostitution, drug use and abuse, gambling, sodomy, or the production ,
exhibition, and sale of vile and obscene materials-despite the proven link
between such vices and serious crime.Source



There is one recommendation that the ACLU makes on how to stem crime: strong gun control
legislation.
It adopted its first gun-control policy in the late
sixties which was actually pretty reasonable. For the sake of brevity on such a
broad topic I will not quote it. Suffice it to say that most of today's
liberals would not agree with it.

However...

In 1971 the Union took the position that the ownership of guns, any
guns, aside from guns owned by the militia, was not constitutionally protected.Source


The ACLU's policy towards the second amendment is:

“The ACLU agrees with the Supreme Court’s long-standing
interpretation of the Second Amendment [as set forth in the 1939 case, U.S. v. Miller] that
the individual’s right to bear arms applies only to the preservation or
efficiency of a well-regulated militia. Except for lawful police and military
purposes, the possession of weapons by individuals is not constitutionally
protected. Therefore, there is no constitutional impediment to the regulation of
firearms.”


It is strange for the ACLU to use such a dated ruling as precedent, when many
more recent cases have ruled otherwise.

The ACLU's approach to crime, its prevention, and punishment clearly are not in
the mainstream opinion of most Americans. The organization has consistently
been an adversary of law enforcement. The Union's perspective is almost
entirely focused on the criminal which makes many people conclude that rather
being a defender of civil liberties, the ACLU is actually the champion of criminal liberties.

Roger Baldwin once actually admitted that he could not in good
conscience serve on a jury because he simply "would never take part in
convicting anyone." When asked how society could possibly continue to exist
without some sort of penal justice system, eh tersely snapped, "That's your
problem."Source


The ACLU's pandering to criminals, lack of interest in true victims, and
opposition to law enforcement are not solutions to society's burden with crime.
I advise everyone to use common sense, and not to follow the extreme positions
of the ACLU when it comes to preventing and punishing crime.

This was a production of Stop The ACLU Blogburst. If you would like to join us,
please email Jay
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