Friday, January 25, 2013

Quote of the Day

"I will look closely at my own understanding of the constitution, my own study, and will put that in the context of what ... others say."

-- South Carolina Sheriff Al Cannon on his potential refusal to enforce gun control laws he considers unconstitutional, during an interview on CNN this morning

Rightly, Carol Costello smacked Cannon down, reminding him of the obvious: It's not his place to determine whether a law is unconstitutional or not, only to enforce the laws as they're written. This is what we're dealing with -- gun lustful yahoos who'll do anything to thwart even common sense gun safety legislation. If they can, at the same time, take a shot at what they consider overreach by our increasingly tyrannical government, even better.

As for Sheriff Al here, it's worth repeating: It's not your fucking job to apply your "own understanding of the Constitution" in deciding whether or not something is legal. Nobody gives a crap what you think, Al. Your job is to enforce the law. Period. So shut the hell up and do that.


Anonymous said...

Selective enforcement is already common though. Some places you're less likely to be arrested for marijuana possession vs others. California, Colorado, and Washington have already decided to legalize weed in spite of federal law.

He's just playing to the political spotlight by announcing it for the world to see. Since he is just a lowly county administrator, he does have the prerogative to not enforce federal laws. Federal law enforcement is province of the FBI, DEA, ATF and other agencies. Although, they do typically get help from local officials when they need it.

Do you want Arpaio enforcing federal immigration laws?

If his state passed a law regarding those guns, the governor and various state officials might have a problem with it. But, at the same time what are they going to do when the sheriff and his minions decide not to do anything about a particular law?

Tuba Terry said...

This might be a little off-topic, but has anyone ever heard one of these people putting forth suggestions about how to adhere to the "well-regulated" part of the second amendment?

Anonymous said...

Are you being serious? Military members and law enforcement officials do not take an oath to uphold the laws of the nation, they take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. That implies that we need to understand and interpret the Constitution. Have you ever been given an order that would not only risk your life but the lives of others? You better hope that we take the time to consider the legality and ramifications of these orders. Instead of thanking the military members and law enforcement officials that make countless sacrifices everyday to uphold your freedoms, you just told them to shut the hell up. Good job.

Mart said...

Anon 7:13 If every soldier and cop determined what the laws are, that is the definition of chaos and no orders would be followed. The legislature, and with amendments the input of some 2/3rds of the people write the constitution. The judiciary interprets the constitution. Law enforcement enforces the law. Current Supreme Court interpretation is citizens have the right to arms; the legislature has the right to restrict who gets those arms, what types of arms they have access to, etc. So yes, he should shut up and do his job - and enforce the law. If he feels there is a constitutional problem with said laws, he should take those concerns to court.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Anon 7:13 / Colonel Jessup:

As former military legal and current practicing attorney, how do I put this delicately ... you don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Respectfully, of course.

First , Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), conclusively established judicial review and confirmed that the judicial branch (culminating at the Supreme Court level) - NOT the executive or legislative branches - has the sole authority to interpret the constitution and thus decide which laws are constitutional or unconstitutional. This decision helped to define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches, it's been the law of the land for over 200 years, and it's still binding constitutional law today. If you (and Sheriff Al) don't believe in that rule of law or the authority of the U.S. judiciary as outlined in the Constitution and accepted by the other branches of government for the past 200 years, then you/Al should have never taken an oath to uphold that rule of law. By assuming you/he are legally entitled (or in a better position that a court of competent jurisdiction) to interpret the Constitution and duly enacted laws inherently turns on its head the separation of powers enunciated in the Constitution - which you/Al swore to uphold and protect.

Second, civil law enforcement officers are subject to constitutional limitations pursuant to laws enacted by the legislative branch (see, e.g., 42 USC § 1983 - Civil action for deprivation of rights), which, as per the above, are reviewed and interpreted not by the actors themselves, but again, by the judiciary. Lawsuits brought against law enforcement for violating such laws are widespread and matters of public record. As noted above, they're subject to the review of the judiciary, not you, me, Al, or other branches of gov't.

Third, although governed pursuant to executive order, like civilian courts, decisions under the UCMJ are subject to military judicial review and (generally) ultimately the Supreme Court. In that regard, the only thing that Article 92 delineates is the failure to obey a lawful order or regulation. In other words, orders are either lawful or unlawful (as interpreted by court's, they're presumed to be lawful, by the way). Simplifying the analysis, if an order is unconstitutional - as interpreted/authorized by military/Supreme Court (not by you/Al), its unlawful. If you violate a lawful order based on your "interpretation" of its constitutionality and a military court decides otherwise - guess what, you're still going to Leavenworth. That's because THEY are legally authorized to interpret the law, not you. That's called the "rule of law," son.

Thus, while you're correct that one must "understand" the Constitution, it's neither your place nor mine, nor Sheriff Al's, to "interpret" the Constitution (as you argue) - that's the sole purview of the judiciary. If you want to roll the dice and try it - good luck, you may wind up eventually winning, like Muhammad Ali. But then again, you may not. The thing is, it's ultimately not your decision to make - it's the Courts'.

Branching out from the legal aspect for a moment, this type of nonsensical position is flabbergasting - how can you and other people who claim to love America hate its laws and people so much when they don't suit your agenda?

TheReaperD said...

The problem is these reactionary morons who equate even the most minor gun control on the same level as being given an order to start mass slaughtering US citizens. It's a false equivalency. Some of them know it but, exploit it for political gain and the rest are just batshit crazy. I'm not foolish enough to believe that gun control will solve gun violence in this country but, it can hopefully keep the carnage level down. But, these morons even take violent offense to even things like gun buyback programs. They treat people willingly turning in their guns like they'd treat people pissing on a bible (another pet peeve for another time). A 10 round magazine is plenty for shooting at the range or defending your home from intruders; unless the entire XIII gang is busting down you door. But, if that happens, your fucked anyway.