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The Rutherford Institute :: Justice Sleeps and ‘We the People’ Suffer: No, the U.S. Supreme Court Will Not Save Us | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on September 23, 2020

As a result, the police and other government agents have been generally empowered to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

Remember, it was a unanimous Supreme Court which determined that police officers may use drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops. That same Court gave police the green light to taser defenseless motorists, strip search non-violent suspects arrested for minor incidents, and break down people’s front doors without evidence that they have done anything wrong.

Make no mistake about it: this is what constitutes “law and order” in the American police state.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/justice_sleeps_and_we_the_people_suffer_no_the_u.s._supreme_court_will_not_save_us

By John W. Whitehead

“The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.”—Justice William O. Douglas

The U.S. Supreme Court will not save us.

It doesn’t matter which party gets to pick the replacement to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The battle that is gearing up right now is yet more distraction and spin to keep us oblivious to the steady encroachment on our rights by the architects of the American Police State.  

Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice.

Although the courts were established to serve as Courts of Justice, what we have been saddled with, instead, are Courts of Order. This is true at all levels of the judiciary, but especially so in the highest court of the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, which is seemingly more concerned with establishing order and protecting government interests than with upholding the rights of the people enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

As a result, the police and other government agents have been generally empowered to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

Rarely do the concerns of the populace prevail.

When presented with an opportunity to loosen the government’s noose that keeps getting cinched tighter and tighter around the necks of the American people, what does our current Supreme Court usually do?

It ducks. Prevaricates. Remains silent. Speaks to the narrowest possible concern.

More often than not, it gives the government and its corporate sponsors the benefit of the doubt, which leaves “we the people” hanging by a thread.

Rarely do the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court— preoccupied with their personal politics, cocooned in a world of privilege, partial to those with power, money and influence, and narrowly focused on a shrinking docket (the court accepts on average 80 cases out of 8,000 each year)—venture beyond their rarefied comfort zones.

Every so often, the justices toss a bone to those who fear they have abdicated their allegiance to the Constitution. Too often, however, the Supreme Court tends to march in lockstep with the police state.

In recent years, for example, the Court has ruled that police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits; police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips; Secret Service agents are not accountable for their actions, as long as they’re done in the name of “security”; citizens only have a right to remain silent if they assert it; police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside; police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime; police can stop, search, question and profile citizens and non-citizens alike; police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense”; police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home; and it’s a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name.

The cases the Supreme Court refuses to hear, allowing lower court judgments to stand, are almost as critical as the ones they rule on. Some of these cases have delivered devastating blows to the lives and rights enshrined in the Constitution. By remaining silent, the Court has affirmed that: legally owning a firearm is enough to justify a no-knock raid by police; the military can arrest and detain American citizens; students can be subjected to random lockdowns and mass searches at school; and police officers who don’t know their actions violate the law aren’t guilty of breaking the law.

You think you’ve got rights? Think again.

All of those freedoms we cherish—the ones enshrined in the Constitution, the ones that affirm our right to free speech and assembly, due process, privacy, bodily integrity, the right to not have police seize our property without a warrant, or search and detain us without probable cause—amount to nothing when the government and its agents are allowed to disregard those prohibitions on government overreach at will.

This is the grim reality of life in the American police state.

In fact, our so-called rights have been reduced to technicalities in the face of the government’s ongoing power grabs.

In the police state being erected around us, the police can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

This is what one would call a slow death by a thousand cuts, only it’s the Fourth Amendment being inexorably bled to death by the very institution that is supposed to be protecting it (and us) from government abuse.

Remember, it was a unanimous Supreme Court which determined that police officers may use drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops. That same Court gave police the green light to taser defenseless motorists, strip search non-violent suspects arrested for minor incidents, and break down people’s front doors without evidence that they have done anything wrong.

Make no mistake about it: this is what constitutes “law and order” in the American police state.

These are the hallmarks of the emerging American police state, where police officers, no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace, are part of an elite ruling class dependent on keeping the masses corralled, under control, and treated like suspects and enemies rather than citizens.

Whether it’s police officers breaking through people’s front doors and shooting them dead in their homes or strip searching motorists on the side of the road, in a police state such as ours, these instances of abuse are not condemned by the government. Rather, they are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution.

The system is rigged.

Because the system is rigged and the U.S. Supreme Court—the so-called “people’s court”—has exchanged its appointed role as a gatekeeper of justice for its new role as maintainer of the status quo, the police state will keep winning and “we the people” will keep losing.

By refusing to accept any of the eight or so qualified immunity cases before it this past term that strove to hold police accountable for official misconduct, the Supreme Court delivered a chilling reminder that in the American police state, ‘we the people’ are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to ‘serve and protect.”

This is how qualified immunity keeps the police state in power.

Lawyers tend to offer a lot of complicated, convoluted explanations for the doctrine of qualified immunity, which was intended to insulate government officials from frivolous lawsuits, but the real purpose of qualified immunity is to rig the system, ensuring that abusive agents of the government almost always win and the victims of government abuse almost always lose.

How else do you explain a doctrine that requires victims of police violence to prove that their abusers knew their behavior was illegal because it had been deemed so in a nearly identical case at some prior time?

It’s a setup for failure.

A review of critical court rulings over the past several decades, including rulings affirming qualified immunity protections for government agents by the U.S. Supreme Court, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order, protecting the ruling class, and insulating government agents from charges of wrongdoing than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Indeed, as Reuters reports, qualified immunity “has become a nearly failsafe tool to let police brutality go unpunished and deny victims their constitutional rights.”

Worse, as Reuters concluded, “the Supreme Court has built qualified immunity into an often insurmountable police defense by intervening in cases mostly to favor the police.”

For those in need of a reminder of all the ways in which the Supreme Court has made us sitting ducks at the mercy of the American police state, let me offer the following.

As a result of court rulings in recent years, police can claim qualified immunity for warrantless searches. Police can claim qualified immunity for warrantless arrests based on mere suspicion. Police can claim qualified immunity for using excessive force against protesters. Police can claim qualified immunity for shooting a fleeing suspect in the back. Police can claim qualified immunity for shooting a mentally impaired person. Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits. Police can stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.  Police officers can stop cars based on “anonymous” tips or for “suspicious” behavior such as having a reclined car seat or driving too carefully. Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime.  Police can use the “fear for my life” rationale as an excuse for shooting unarmed individuals. Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes.” Not only are police largely protected by qualified immunity, but police dogs are also off the hook for wrongdoing.

Police can subject Americans to strip searches, no matter the “offense.” Police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home. Police can use knock-and-talk tactics as a means of sidestepping the Fourth Amendment. Police can carry out no-knock raids if they believe announcing themselves would be dangerous. Police can recklessly open fire on anyone that might be “armed.” Police can destroy a home during a SWAT raid, even if the owner gives their consent to enter and search it. Police can suffocate someone, deliberately or inadvertently, in the process of subduing them.

To sum it up, we are dealing with a nationwide epidemic of court-sanctioned police violence carried out with impunity against individuals posing little or no real threat. In this way, the justices of the United States Supreme Court—through their deference to police power, preference for security over freedom, and evisceration of our most basic rights for the sake of order and expediency—have become the architects of the American police state.

So where does that leave us?

For those deluded enough to believe that they’re living the American dream—where the government represents the people, where the people are equal in the eyes of the law, where the courts are arbiters of justice, where the police are keepers of the peace, and where the law is applied equally as a means of protecting the rights of the people—it’s time to wake up.

We no longer have a representative government, a rule of law, or justice.

Liberty has fallen to legalism. Freedom has fallen to fascism.

Justice has become jaded, jaundiced and just plain unjust.

And for too many, the American dream of freedom and opportunity has turned into a living nightmare.

Given the turbulence of our age, with its police overreach, military training drills on American soil, domestic surveillance, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, wrongful convictions, profit-driven prisons, and corporate corruption, the need for a guardian of the people’s rights has never been greater.

Yet as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People,, neither the president, nor the legislatures, nor the courts will save us from the police state that holds us in its clutches.

So we can waste our strength over the next few weeks and months raging over the makeup of the Supreme Court or we can stand united against the tyrant in our midst.

After all, the president, the legislatures, and the courts are all on the government’s payroll.

They are the police state.

WC: 1995

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

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The Pretend ‘Defund the Police’ Movement, and the Real One – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 1, 2020

What we need is a separation of police and state.

We need an end to victimless crimes, which are a major source of unjust profiling and harassment. You cannot meaningfully “defund the police” while still intending to harass the public with an endless array of intrusions and regulations.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/07/thomas-woods/the-pretend-defund-the-police-movement-and-the-real-one/

By

The conversation about the future of the police shifted dramatically after the death of George Floyd on May 25. At first most people doubtless assumed that activists would demand a series of reforms to American police departments. And yet before we knew it, the call to “defund the police” was being heard everywhere.

So far, though, calls to defund the police have been fraught with confusion.

On social media, curious observers have wondered how people will acquire security services in the absence of police. In response, many defenders of the “defund the police” cause have impatiently lectured them (“do your research!”), explaining that of course defunding the police doesn’t mean reducing their budget to zero. “Defund the police” means the police will be funded, but we’ll just rethink the way they operate.

Have these people ever looked up the word “defund” in the dictionary?

But others, meanwhile, seem genuine in literally wanting to defund the police.

The president of the Minneapolis City Council, for example, said she looked forward to a “police-free future,” and therefore does appear to have wanted to defund the police in the ordinary sense of the word. But when asked what people should do if their homes are invaded, replied that, well, maybe it’s about time they got a taste of how the marginalized feel.

Still others say we need social workers to do some of the work we’ve been assigning to police.

Oh, that sounds great. So instead of shooting your dog, they’ll take your children away.

These are not very good answers, to say the least.

Yet the cause of defunding the police is not without merit. It is the correct view, in fact. The problem with the standard proposals is that they are not nearly radical enough.

What we need is a separation of police and state.

We need an end to victimless crimes, which are a major source of unjust profiling and harassment. You cannot meaningfully “defund the police” while still intending to harass the public with an endless array of intrusions and regulations.

Now to be sure, there are reforms that can be made that can do some good.

We can start by demilitarizing the police, both in equipment and in approach. We might decentralize police forces and make sure officers live in the neighborhoods they patrol, thereby reducing the chances of misunderstanding and conflict, and increasing the likelihood of nonviolent conflict resolution.

The recent challenge to “qualified immunity,” a doctrine that makes it easier for police to get away with rights violations and more difficult to hold them accountable, should be supported.

We should confront police unions and recognize their role in establishing provisions that obstruct police accountability.

But as long as we refuse to entertain original thoughts, and instead stay wedded to the monopoly model for police, there will be problems. The predictable results of any monopoly are less satisfactory service at ever-higher prices. There is no reason to expect that security provision to be any different.

Want to defund the police? Start by busting the monopoly.

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Three Ways Law Enforcement Must Be Reformed Right Now | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 11, 2020

https://mises.org/wire/three-ways-law-enforcement-must-be-reformed-right-now?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=8b216a96ca-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-8b216a96ca-228343965

I don’t know which acts of police abuse and brutality are motivated by racism and which are not. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we could end all racial bias immediately through some magic spell or button we could press. Would this end police abuse, or even most of it?

Experience tells us no. The data is clear that police abuse is not limited to any particular group. Indeed, a majority of those shot by police are white.

For example, when police officer Phillip Brailsford gunned down Daniel Shaver, it’s unlikely that he was motivated by some sort of ethnic or racial bias. The same was probably true when police shot Duncan Lemp in his sleep during a no-knock raid, or when police pinned Tony Timpa to the ground until he died. After Timpa died police joked about it, and apparently found the situation quite hilarious. This is not limited just to local police personnel. When federal agents massacred more than eighty (mostly white) men, women, and children at Waco, law enforcement officers probably weren’t motivated by the race of their victims, either.

Police also appear to have no aversion to being callously indifferent toward victims of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. When police elected to cower outside Stoneman Douglas High School rather than face the gunman slaughtering children inside, it’s unlikely that they paid much attention to the racial makeup of the student body (a majority of which was white.)

Unfortunately, anecdotes like these could be recalled for hours and hours.

“But nonwhites are more often targeted proportionally!,” some might say. This may be so, and indeed some may decide that turning police into equal-opportunity abusers is a type of progress in itself, but it hardly addresses the systemic foundations of police abuse.

And the underlying problems are substantial. They are systemic and built into the law enforcement community in the United States for several reasons.

First, police are protected from accountability both by laws granting them legal immunity and by police labor unions that shield abusers. Secondly, the proliferation of laws designed to target nonviolent people for petty offenses (most commonly drug offenses) provides police with nearly endless opportunities to stop and harass people who have committed no real crime.

Murray Rothbard has illustrated how the ideal in this situation would be a type of police privatization. But for those who are not yet ready for such a radical reform, much can be done in the meantime through more mild, yet very necessary, reforms.

One: End Legal Immunity for Police

At the core of the issue is a lack of accountability and legal liability on the part of government employees who enforce the laws. Thanks to activist progovernment judges and legislation designed to shield police, it is extremely difficult to hold abusive law enforcement agents accountable.

Chris Calton explains:

The doctrine of qualified immunity essentially says that for a police officer to be held accountable, there must be a statute specifying all the particularities of his or her unique situation. Anything even remotely ambiguous falls under the broad category of “discretion.” In theory, legal immunity is “qualified,” but in practice, it is effectively absolute.

This way of thinking, however, is only a few decades old. It was solidified in American law by activist Supreme Court judges in 1967. Their ruling essentially created new law which erected new barriers against holding police accountable for abusive behavior.

As ABC reported this week:

While the Civil Rights Act of 1871 gives Americans the unambiguous ability to sue public officials over civil rights violations, the Supreme Court has subsequently limited liability to only those rights that have become “clearly established law.”

Critics say the standard is near-impossible to meet.

“In order for a plaintiff to defeat qualified immunity, they have to find a prior case that has held unconstitutional an incident with virtually identical facts to the one the plaintiff is bringing,” said UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz. “And over the last 15 years, the court has made it a more and more difficult standard for plaintiffs to overcome to go to trial.”

Last month, a Reuters report noted that “the doctrine has become a nearly failsafe tool to let police brutality go unpunished and deny victims their constitutional rights.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Solutions To Police Brutality Politicians Aren’t Giving You | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 6, 2020

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-solutions-to-police-brutality-politicians-arent-giving-you/

by

Since the George Floyd protests began last week, they have since morphed into a much broader movement which is now exposing a problem this country has suffered from for a long time. The system of law enforcement in this country has morphed into a militarized standing army, preying on the poor, and rife with corruption. Naturally, people are pissed.

As we have stated from the beginning of the riots, this reaction was inevitable. Minorities and the poor have been pushed into a corner and ignored as the state preyed on them through a system of extortion and violence. One can only be ignored for so long before they eventually lash out.

Remember when football players were peacefully protesting by taking a knee, and the country—including the Commander in Chief—collectively lost their minds telling them to shut up and sit down? Trump even called for them to be fired for this. Now, because these folks were ignored and told to shut up during their peaceful protests, the inevitable non-peaceful protests have begun.

For decades there has been a perfect storm brewing in this country as minorities and poor people have their doors kicked in and are terrorized by cops during botched raids for substances deemed illegal by the state and watch helplessly as their family members die in video after video at the hands of cops. Now, we have record unemployment, lockdowns, cops murdering people on video and facing no immediate charges, and those in charge sit at the top and point fingers.

Because the system will always refuse to accept responsibility for the situation it has forced onto the people, the blame game always comes next. Instead of realizing the error of their ways, government is now blaming the riots on Antifa, White Nationalists, the Alt-right, “thugs,” and any other scapegoat they can find to blame besides taking responsibility. They are even blaming Russia now. You cannot make this up.

Naturally, this will never lead to any positive change. It will only prolong suffering, create more divide, and perpetuate a system of injustice for decades to come. Those who want to incite peaceful change, however, have been pushing these ideas out for a long time. Now, people may finally listen.

To lower the likelihood of future chaos, America’s system of law enforcement needs radical change. Instead of threatening to execute suspected looters with no due process—the discussion we should be having right now is how to fix this broken system. It is not difficult, it is based in logic and reason, and its effects would be significantly felt almost overnight.

Over the years, TFTP has been proposing these solutions and below we have compiled a list of five main actions that could affect this much needed change, right now.

The first and most significant solution to this pain and suffering would be to end the war on drugs—today. Legalize every substance out there.

Richard Nixon, in his effort to silence black people and antiwar activists, brought the War on Drugs into full force in 1973. He then signed Reorganization Plan No. 2, which established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Over the course of five decades, this senseless war has waged on. At a cost of over $1 trillion—ruining and ending countless lives in the process—America’s drug war failed, miserably, and has created a drug problem that is worse now than ever before.

This is no coincidence.

For years, those of us who’ve been paying attention have seen who profits from this inhumane war—the police state and cartels.

The reason why the drug war actually creates a drug and violence problem is simple. And those who profit most from the drug war—drug war enforcers and cartels—all know it. When the government makes certain substances illegal, it does not remove the demand. Instead, the state creates crime by pushing the sale and control of these substances into the illegal black markets. All the while, demand remains constant.

We can look at the prohibition of alcohol and the subsequent mafia crime wave that ensued as a result as an example. The year 1930, at the peak of prohibition, happened to be the deadliest year for police in American history. 300 police officers were killed, and innumerable poor people slaughtered as the state cracked down on drinkers.

Outlawing substances does not work.

Criminal gangs form to protect sales territory and supply lines. They then monopolize the control of the constant demand. Their entire operation is dependent upon police arresting people for drugs because this grants them a monopoly on their sale.

It is incredibly racist too. The illegality of drug possession and use is what keeps the low-level users and dealers in and out of the court systems, and most of these people are poor black men. As Dr. Ron Paul has pointed out, black people are more likely to receive a harsher punishment for the same drug crime as a white person.

This revolving door of creating and processing criminals fosters the phenomenon known as Recidivism. Recidivism is a fundamental concept of criminal justice that shows the tendency of those who are processed into the system and the likelihood of future criminal behavior.

The War on Drugs takes good people and turns them into criminals every single minute of every single day. The system is set up in such a way that it fans the flames of violent crime by essentially building a factory that turns out violent criminals.

It also creates unnecessary police interactions—disproportionately carried out on black people—which leads to resentment, harassment, civil rights violations, and even death. When drugs are legal, there are far fewer doors to kick in, fines to collect, profit prisons to fill, and money to steal.

Secondly, we need to end qualified immunity for police. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cops Kill Because We Gave Them The Legal Framework to Do It | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on May 30, 2020

But rather than pillaging Family Dollar, Aldi’s, and Target, folks infuriated by Floyd’s killing should focus their wrath on the legislators and judges who have effectively given police a right to kill.

Ya but…a legislator or judge didn’t have their knee on his neck.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/cops-kill-because-we-gave-them-the-legal-framework-to-do-it/

Rather than burning and looting, protesters should turn their ire on lawmakers and judges who facilitate police immunity.

George Floyd moments before his death in Minneapolis on Memorial Day (Twitter)

The brutal Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd has sparked violent protests, looting, and arson attacks in Minneapolis and St. Paul. A police precinct building was torched and destroyed and the Minnesota National Guard has been called out to restore order. But the killing in Minnesota is the latest reminder that politicians and judges—through federal law and judicial interpretation—have turned police into a privileged class that is most often unaccountable, if not entitled to oppress other Americans.

Almost everyone agrees that Floyd’s death was a horrendous injustice. President Trump, who urged police officers in 2017 to not “be too nice” to suspects they arrested, condemned what the police did to Floyd as “a very bad thing.” Former Minneapolis police chief Janeé Harteau said that the video of Floyd’s killing was “the most horrific thing I’ve seen in my career and in my lifetime.” Washington, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham declared that the officers’ actions were “nothing short of murder.” Derick Chauvin, the police officer who killed Floyd was arrested today and charged with murder; he and three other police involved in Floyd’s death were fired earlier this week

Floyd was killed by Chauvin pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes after he was handcuffed and laying face down in the street. Floyd repeatedly declared, “I can’t breathe.” It didn’t matter. ACLU attorney Carl Takei told the New York Times that police departments that permit “chokeholds try to differentiate between cutting off the flow of blood, which renders someone unconscious, and cutting off the flow of oxygen, which is deadly.” This dicey distinction often goes amiss, as in 2014 when Eric Garner was killed by a New York City policeman’s chokehold. But how did government officials ever acquire a right to strangle people who fail to instantly submit to their commands?

Such killings would likely not occur without the sense of impunity conferred on police in much of this nation. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a top contender for Vice President candidacy for Joe Biden, was the chief prosecutor for Hennepin County (including Minneapolis) from 1998 to 2006. Klobuchar, who was nicknamed “KloboCop” by detractors,  “declined to bring charges in more than two dozen cases in which people were killed in encounters with police” while she “aggressively prosecuted smaller offenses” by private citizens, the Washington Post noted. Her record was aptly summarized by a headline early this year from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “Klobuchar ramped up prosecutions, except in cases against police.”

Minnesota cops also benefit from their state’s so-called “police officer’s bill of rights,” which impede investigations into killings by police and other misconduct.

Outrage over police abuses have become a regular occurrence in modern American life. In 1994, the ACLU and the National Rifle Association  jointly called for President Bill Clinton to appoint a national commission to investigate “lawlessness in law enforcement.”  In 2014, after violent protests over a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, Attorney General Eric Holder declared that “we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community.” But unjustified police shootings usually spark brief uproars and promises of reform— but no fundamental rollback of law enforcement’s lethal power and prerogatives.

Much of the media coverage quickly framed the Minneapolis killing as another example of systemic racism by police. There are many bigoted cops who have unjustifiably shot or otherwise abused innocent black citizens but people of all races, creeds, and colors are at risk from lawless lawmen. As the Washington Post noted, “In 2017, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Justine Damond, an Australian woman who had called police about what she believed was a possible sexual assault near her home.” The Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department continues to refuse to provide camcom videos or any other evidence on its predawn no-knock raid in Potomac, Maryland, in which police reportedly shot 21-year-old Duncan Lemp as he lay sleeping in bed in his parents’ house. The Lemp case has been largely ignored by the nation’s media (except for my American Conservative articles here, here, and here).

Focusing on racial bias also risks obscuring the fundamental problem: the Supreme Court has effectively given police a license to shoot, pummel, or falsely arrest ill-fated citizens across the nation.

In the wake of the Civil War, freed southern blacks were terrorized by lynch mobs and other attackers. Congress responded to Ku Klux Klan violence against freed southern blacks by enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1871 to authorize lawsuits against any person acting “under color of” law who causes a “deprivation of any rights… secured by the Constitution and laws.” But in a series of decisions beginning in 1967, the Supreme Court gutted that law by permitting police and other government agents to claim they acted in “good faith” when violating citizens’ rights. In 1982, the Supreme Court granted government officials immunity unless they violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

Regardless of centuries of court rulings that clearly demarcated citizens’ constitutional rights, the Supreme Court decided government officials deserved “qualified immunity” unless a prior court case had condemned almost exactly the same abusive behavior. Federal judge Don Willett declared in 2018 that “qualified immunity smacks of unqualified impunity, letting public officials duck consequences for bad behavior—no matter how palpably unreasonable—as long as they were the first to behave badly.”

The Supreme Court effectively added an asterisk to the Constitution that expunged much of the Bill of Rights. In a 2018 case absolving a reckless shooting that killed a motorist, Justice Sonia Sotomayor angrily dissented that the court’s decision “tells [police] officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.”

How does the Supreme Court’s idealism on “good faith” G-men play out in the real world?  Courts have “approved qualified immunity for cops who allegedly shot people without cause, sicced a dog on a man who was surrendering, tased a driver who was stopped for failing to buckle his seat belt, and ordered a 17-year-old boy to disrobe and masturbate so they could take pictures of his erect penis,” Reason columnist Jacob Sullumreported in 2019. That year, a federal appeals court bizarrely granted qualified immunity to Fresno, California, police officers who stole $225,000 during a search of two businessmen.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that his committee would hold a hearing on police violence to analyze “why does this happen, how often is it, is it an aberration.” Graham said the video of Floyd’s killing is “hard to watch, and I just imagine how many people died without videos.”

But Congress has, as usual, been asleep on the job. As Dan Alban, an Institute for Justice attorney and  the nation’s most effective litigator against asset forfeiture abuses, observed, Congress could pass legislation “clarifying that there is no qualified immunity” for civil rights lawsuits against state and federal officials.

But the problem goes far beyond qualified immunity. Politicians criminalize practically everything in daily life and then tell police “be nice”—or maybe mandate that cops attend  sensitivity training. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a blizzard of new mandates and prohibitions that further empower police. A video went viral earlier this month of a New York Police Department officer tackling and pummeling a young black man who was suspected of violating new dictates on social distancing. One wonders if there are a hundred such instances of idiotic brutality for each one that trends on Twitter today

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins announced yesterday that city officials will “create a healing space at the site of the [burnt-down] 3rd Precinct so that people can grieve, express their concerns, their anger, in a safe and humane way.”  It remains to be seen whether a  “healing space” will deter the unjustified looting and violence that has proliferated in Minnesota. But rather than pillaging Family Dollar, Aldi’s, and Target, folks infuriated by Floyd’s killing should focus their wrath on the legislators and judges who have effectively given police a right to kill.

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IRS Agent Indulges In Bizarre Fetish In Taxpayer’s Home | Zero Hedge

Posted by M. C. on February 26, 2020

Bear in mind, Shelly wasn’t suspected of a crime. But an agent from the Internal Revenue Service stood there and watched this innocent woman urinate and defecate in her own toilet in her own home…

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https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-24/irs-agent-indulges-bizarre-fetish-taxpayers-home

On June 8, 2006, more than a decade ago, armed agents from the Internal Revenue Service arrived at the home of Michael and Shelly Ioane of Atwater, California.

Michael Ioane was suspected of tax fraud, and the IRS agents were there to conduct a search of the premises and look for evidence.

About thirty minutes into the search, Shelly Ioane (the wife, who was not suspected of any crime whatsoever) told the agents who were ransacking her bedroom that she needed to use the bathroom.

According to court documents, one of the IRS agents escorted Shelly to the bathroom… then came inside with her.

Shelly protested and asked the agent to wait outside. The agent refused, stating that she needed to make sure Shelly was not hiding any evidence.

Bear in mind, Shelly wasn’t suspected of a crime. But an agent from the Internal Revenue Service stood there and watched this innocent woman urinate and defecate in her own toilet in her own home… without so much as turning her head slightly or even pretending to avert her eyes.

This is truly disgusting on so many different levels.

In most civilized countries, tax problems aren’t even a criminal matter. They’re civil… sorted out administratively, rather than at gunpoint.

And armed government thugs certainly aren’t able to abuse power to this extreme– indulging in their weird fetishes to watch innocent women defecate in their own homes.

But what’s probably the craziest part about this entire story is that when Shelly Ioane sued (for obvious reasons), the federal government mounted an aggressive and spirited defense of its actions.

It’s appalling. They literally tried to justify this ritualistic degradation of an innocent human being’s most basic dignity by calling it ‘standard procedure’.

Really? It’s standard procedure for agents of the Internal Revenue Service to watch people crap in their own toilets? Do you get extra benefits for that?

(Another interesting fact here is that when Michael Ioane requested to use the restroom – i.e. the guy who was actually suspected of a tax crime– no IRS agent accompanied him.)

Bear in mind we’re talking about the Internal Revenue Service. This isn’t Jack Bauer saving the world from nuclear-armed terrorists.

No. This level of abuse and brutality is justified because of a dispute over taxes.

That’s how desperate the government wants its money.

Now, as you can imagine, the wheels of justice grind very, very slowly. Especially when it’s the government (or an agent of the government) being sued.

Shelly Ioane was violated back in 2006. But the case was only recently settled LAST WEEK!

Seriously! How pathetic. It took more than a DECADE to get this far… because the government kept fighting.

When the Ioanes filed suit, the government fought tooth and nail to keep it out of court, and to throw out most of the charges.

Then the government claimed that IRS agents couldn’t be sued due to ‘qualified immunity’, which protects federal employees from lawsuits that may arise from the performance of their duties.

In 2016 it finally went to court. And a US federal judge ruled that the IRS agents could not be protected by qualified immunity since they were clearly violating basic standards of decency.

But the government refused to accept that outcome and appealed the decision.

Finally, just last week, a federal appeals court affirmed the original court’s ruling, concluding that the IRS agents completely violated Shelly’s “clearly established right to bodily privacy” and were hence not entitled to qualified immunity.

That’s a major blow to the IRS. But this issue is STILL not resolved.

The only thing that’s been settled is that the agents aren’t entitled to qualified immunity. So now Shelly has to sue AGAIN on the original charge of being violated twelve years ago.

Sadly it will probably take a few more years for this case to ultimately be resolved, if ever.

And it shows the lengths to which the government will protect its own, regardless of how egregious and vile the behavior of its agents.

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How Qualified Immunity Became Absolute Immunity for Police Officers | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 2, 2019

Instead, the lack of any law specifically prohibiting his actions in unique circumstances was sufficient to grant him legal immunity.

Intoxicated with power, he was playing a cruel game that ended with the murder of a man who had violated no laws. All of this was captured on video. Inscribed on the gun he used to kill Shaver were the words “You’re fucked”—which the judge ruled to be inadmissible in court, consistent with the Harlow ruling that tossed out the good-faith clause.

government officials live by one set of rules, and the rest of us live by another.

https://mises.org/wire/how-qualified-immunity-became-absolute-immunity-police-officers

When Israel Leija, Jr. was picking up food at a drive-through in 2010, police officers approached his car to arrest him. Leija was guilty of violating his probation, and when the officers informed him that he was under arrest, he sped away. For the next twenty minutes, Leija led the police on a high speed chase.

During the chase, the police used standard tactics to stop Leija. Anticipating his possible routes, they deployed tire spikes in three different areas. But one officer, Chadrin Mullenix, decided to think outside the box. Despite never having been trained to shoot moving vehicles, Mullenix asked permission from his supervisor to fire his M-4 rifle from an overpass at Leija’s engine block. He neglected to wait for a response, though, before taking the initiative. He fired off six rounds, none of which hit the engine, but four of the bullets hit Leija, killing him. After the shooting, Mullenix said to his supervisor, “How’s that for proactive?” in response to an earlier criticism from his supervisor for not taking enough initiative.

In the case of Mullenix v. Luna, Officer Mullenix was acquitted on charges of excessive force on the grounds of qualified immunity. Prior to the case Harlow v. Gitzgerald in 1982, qualified immunity was essentially “good faith” immunity; as long as officials believed “in good faith” that their actions were legal, they were protected from lawsuits. Harlow rejected the good-faith clause—which depended on the subjective evaluation of the officer—so that the only “qualification” for qualified immunity was that no “clearly established” law was violated. At face value, the subjectivity of the good-faith clause appears to provide an open-ended defense for police abuses, but by eliminating this condition, police officers actually gained even more immunity from liability.

In the case of Mullenix, the comment “How’s that for proactive?” would have demonstrated that he was not acting in good faith when taking the initiative to fire recklessly at a moving vehicle. Instead, the lack of any law specifically prohibiting his actions in unique circumstances was sufficient to grant him legal immunity. Given that statutory law cannot reasonably anticipate all the unique circumstances that officers will face, nearly any abuse of power meets the criteria for qualified immunity, even in cases in which an officer brazenly defies reasonable expectations for appropriate conduct.

The case of Philip Brailsford is an even more remarkable example of how qualified immunity serves as a license for police abuse. After customers of a La Quinta Inn mistook a pest-control gun for a weapon, the police were called in to investigate Daniel Shaver. When they found him, unarmed and drunk, Shaver was not violating any law. But Officer Brailsford, while wearing a body camera to record his activities, ordered Shaver to the ground and proceeded to play a sadistic game of Simon Says. As he pointed his AR-15 at the drunken father of two, Brailsford gave a series of rapid-fire “Simon Says” orders, telling Shaver “If you make a mistake … there’s a possibility you’re going to get shot.” Unfortunately, as Shaver tried to follow the orders, crying and begging not to be shot, he did make a mistake—reaching back to pull up his sagging shorts—and Brailford pumped five bullets into him.

Like Mullenix, Brailsford was clearly not demonstrating good-faith discretion in his interaction with Daniel Shaver. Intoxicated with power, he was playing a cruel game that ended with the murder of a man who had violated no laws. All of this was captured on video. Inscribed on the gun he used to kill Shaver were the words “You’re fucked”—which the judge ruled to be inadmissible in court, consistent with the Harlow ruling that tossed out the good-faith clause. All Brailsford had to demonstrate was that he was not violating any clearly established law, and of course, there is not statute prohibiting a police officer from murdering somebody for failing in a game of Simon Says. Brailsford has since been acquitted and, after claiming to have PTSD from the slaying, is currently enjoying a retirement pension (he was twenty-six years old when he killed Shaver) of $2,500 per month.

The doctrine of qualified immunity essentially says that for a police officer to be held accountable, there must be a statute specifying all the particularities of his or her unique situation. Anything even remotely ambiguous falls under the broad category of “discretion.” In theory, legal immunity is “qualified,” but in practice, it is effectively absolute.

In the most recent case, occurring only weeks ago, a team of police officers in Georgia stormed the property of Amy Corbett. The officers were chasing a suspected criminal, and Corbett and her children had the misfortune of living near where the suspect was thought to be. While the children were playing outside, the officers made them lie down while guns were pointed at them. When the family dog, Bruce, approached the officers—showing no signs of aggressive behavior—Officer Michael Vickers did what thousands of police officers have done in similar situations: he fired on the family pet.

While the slaying of a beloved pet in front of children is horrifying (and not uncommon in these situations), Michael Vickers failed to kill the dog. When he fired his weapon, Corbett’s ten-year-old son was less than two feet away from Vickers. Somehow, Vickers fired his weapon so inaccurately that it landed in the knee of the boy lying only eighteen inches away. Unsurprisingly, after their son was forced to lie “for an extended period of time” in excruciating pain the family sued. Just like Mullenix and Brailsford, Officer Vickers was granted qualified immunity from the suit.

In cases such as these, qualified immunity does more than merely protect bad officers. Lawsuits serve two functions: they deter reckless behavior (such as firing a weapon while a child is less than two feet away, for instance), but they also provide restitution for victims. For Shaver, who provided for a wife and two children, restitution would be meant to compensate the family, at the very least, for the financial loss of a primary income-earner. In the Corbett case, the family remains fully responsible for the hospital bills to treat their son’s knee. Qualified immunity protects dangerous cops while simultaneously blocking any avenue for the victims to relieve even some of the consequences of police abuse.

There are several layers of negative incentives built into the criminal justice system. Civil asset forfeiture, for instance, encourages police to seize property from law-abiding citizens on the flimsiest of grounds, with scant recourse against bogus claims. But qualified immunity arguably serves as the most dangerous of the perverse incentive structures governing the police. Through legal evolution, the protection offered has expanded to an absurd degree, where an officer can record himself murdering a man as part of a sadistic game only to be rewarded with an early retirement. Police officers enjoy an almost untrammeled liberty for brutality, theft, and murder—those who do not abuse their authority restrain themselves not because of institutional structures, but despite them. Qualified immunity is the clearest example that the rule of law is dead (or, perhaps, never existed); government officials live by one set of rules, and the rest of us live by another.

 

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