Sunday, May 13, 2012

Here's A Social Issue: Where Are Libertarians?

Here's A Social Issue: Where Are Libertarians?

You all know how I feel about leading with "social issues" such as gay marriage and drug legalization when it comes to politics.  The problem with doing so in a Libertarian context is that it's hard to take the actual Libertarian position for both but it's damned easy (and popular) to pander, which is simply advocacy of the government interfering more in our lives rather than less.
But if you want a "social issue" as a Libertarian to raise hell about, here's one that works:
Baltimore native Chris Bilal was walking through his adopted Brooklyn neighborhood when he was stopped by a police officer. The NYPD officer peppered the 24-year-old with questions about where he lived, requested Bilal’s ID and rummaged through his bag.
“I was coming home from the Laundromat and I was stopped by the police officer. Asking me, ‘Let me see your ID. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Do you live around here?’ ”
The officer then proceeded to rummage through Bilal’s bag of freshly cleaned and folded laundry to see if he was carrying anything illegal. The search produced nothing, and the officer sent Bilal on his way.
This is blatantly unconstitutional.  The 4th Amendment says:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
There's no probable cause in these cases.  The police simply stop and search you because they're "suspicious."
That's unlawful.  It's a violation of your civil rights -- period.
There are exceptions that have been allowed over the years in the name of "officer safety"; an officer may search the immediately-accessible area of your vehicle if he has reason to suspect you might be a threat to him, for example.  Under the same rubric "frisking" you when you're detained for the purpose of determing if you have a dangerous weapon has been, under certain circumstances, permitted.
But an officer who pulls you over has to have reason to believe you violated a traffic law or some other articulable reason to stop your vehicle.  He cannot randomly stop and search cars.
The problem is that there is no probable cause for these stops.  At all.  In fact, the NYPD doesn't even try to claim there is.  They simply claim that "the ends justify the means."
No they don't.
These stops and searches are illegal.  Period.
So which candidate(s) will take a loud and long stand against this, promising that if elected they will enforce the Constitution and do what they can (introduce bills, sign executive orders, etc) to put a stop to this crap?


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