SOME GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE
September 20, 2012
We are daily inundated with bad news. In fact, just about every piece of news coming out of Washington, D.C., is bad. And since the mainstream media, for the most part, does absolutely nothing to truly inform the American citizenry regarding the incessant assaults against their liberties from the miscreants inside the Beltway, it is left to independent journalists and columnists to serve as modern-day Paul Reveres. This usually means warning people to the evil machinations of those who seek to vanquish constitutional liberties. Occasionally, however, there are positive reports that people need to know about. This is one of those weeks. I want readers to be aware of two significantly positive events that have taken place. One is at the federal level; the other is at the State level.
*A Federal Judge Has Made Permanent The Decision To Invalidate The Indefinite Detention Provision Of The NDAA
The New American magazine covers the story: “On September 12 a federal district court judge made permanent an earlier order temporarily blocking enforcement of provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) purporting to empower the president to deploy the U.S. military to apprehend and indefinitely detain people suspected of ‘substantially supporting’ al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or ‘associated forces.’
“On May 16 Judge Katherine Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York had issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Obama administration from exercising the indefinite detention authority granted the president by Section 1021 of the NDAA.
“The temporary block has now been made permanent. In the opinion handing down the injunction issued yesterday, Judge Forrest wrote:
“‘The due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment require that an individual understand what conduct might subject him or her to criminal or civil penalties. Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention — potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever. The Constitution requires specificity — and that specificity is absent from § 1021(b)(2).’
“This is similar to the language she used in the 68-page opinion accompanying the temporary injunction order. In that order Judge Forrest disagreed with the federal government’s argument that the relevant provisions of the NDAA merely restate existing law. She wrote: ‘Section 1021 is not merely an “affirmation” of the AUMF [Authorization for the Use of Military Force].’
“Pointing out that were Section 1021 and the AUMF identical then the former would be redundant, Judge Forrest held:
“‘Section 1021 lacks what are standard definitional aspects of similar legislation that define scope with specificity. It also lacks the critical component of requiring that one found to be in violation of its provisions must have acted with some amount of scienter--i.e., that an alleged violator’s conduct must have been, in some fashion, “knowing.” Section 1021 tries to do too much with too little--it lacks the minimal requirements of definition and scienter that could easily have been added, or could be added, to allow it to pass Constitutional muster.’
“Scienter is defined as ‘a state of mind often required to hold a person legally accountable for his or her acts.’ In other words, the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA are too vague and aren’t specific enough to permit a person to know whether he or she has violated the law.
“While admitting that preventing the federal government from enforcing a congressional act is a sober matter that must be attended to with caution, Judge Forrest writes that ‘it is the responsibility of our judicial system to protect the public from acts of Congress which infringe upon constitutional rights.’”
As you can imagine, the Obama administration had the audacity to announce that Judge Forrest’s ruling is “unconstitutional” and is appealing her decision to the US Supreme Court. And as an aside, for all of you die-hard Republicans out there who labour under the delusion that Mitt Romney is really going to make life better for liberty should he be elected President, Romney has enthusiastically endorsed NDAA, including the Indefinite Detention provision. So, there is no doubt that Romney would pursue the same draconian police-state initiatives of his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat.
There is also the caveat that since when have totalitarianish Presidential administrations paid any attention to the Constitution, State laws, or the laws of jurisprudence?
But in the meantime, we should all be giving huge kudos to Judge Forrest for her courageous ruling!
*A New Hampshire Jury Has Nullified Its First Felony Marijuana Case
Yahoo! News covers the story: “Doug Darrell beat the odds and walked home from his trial as a free man on Friday, a major win for the state’s new jury nullification law. Facing felony drug cultivation charges for growing marijuana plants behind his house, the 59-year-old Rastafarian saw all of the charges against him dropped after jurors in his trial successfully convinced their peers to nullify the case on the grounds that Darrell was simply trying to obey the customs of his religion.
“‘Many of us wondered what kind of precedent this would set,’ said juror and FSP participant Cathleen Converse in an exclusive interview with Free Talk Live. ‘But after chewing on all of the possibilities and re-reading the definition of nullification, we all decided that the only fair thing to do was to vote with our consciences and acquit the defendant of all charges.’
“Doug Darrell never had any run-ins with the law until 2009, when a National Guard helicopter flying below legal altitude while looking for drugs noticed that Darrell was growing marijuana in the back yard of his Barnstead home. Though the sighting could legally have been considered an invasion of privacy, federal drug authorities were notified anyway. Shortly thereafter, Darrell’s home was raided and the Rastafarian found himself staring down the barrel of a police assault rifle and facing multiple counts of felony possession of marijuana.”
The report goes on to say, “Under the policy known as HB 146, the defense has a right to instruct the jury to nullify a guilty verdict if they conscientiously object to the punishment. Darrell’s attorney, Mark Sisti, based his defense around this new rule and, after the trial went to deliberation, persuaded the presiding judge to inform jurors of this power not once but twice. Given the circumstances of Darrell’s case, it took less than six hours for them to reach a unanimous verdict--not guilty on all counts.”
The report adds this: “Converse describes herself as a ‘straight-laced, little old lady’ who moved to New Hampshire from South Carolina in June of 2004. In 2003 she joined the Free State Project because she felt that her family’s future ‘would be better spent among those who don’t think we’re strange for wanting to rely on ourselves, and to work together to bring more liberty into our lives sooner rather than later.’”
See the Yahoo! News report.
Readers may recall that I recently devoted this column to reporting the Jury Nullification bill that had become law in the State of New Hampshire. See my column here.
It sure didn’t take long for a New Hampshire jury to send a message to the State that it will not tolerate the usurpation of liberty--the so-called war on drugs notwithstanding. Hooray!
Without delving too deeply into the subject, the government’s war against marijuana is as about as close to the old Soviet-style police-state practices as it gets. It is unconscionable what authorities are doing to people’s lives, all to punish them for doing what America’s Founding Fathers (including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) believed to be a necessary component of a happy and free society. Yes, you heard it right. Washington, Jefferson, and many other founders grew, used, and freely distributed what we now call marijuana.
Thomas Jefferson said, "Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country." George Washington said, “Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere." Add Presidents James Madison and James Monroe to the list of hemp plant fans.
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Can readers get a mental picture of DEA agents raiding the home, seizing the private property, and taking into custody four of the first five US Presidents? Egad! Yet, thousands of honest, morally clean, and reputable citizens have had their lives ruined for either growing or using (many for legitimate medical purposes) marijuana. And this is in spite of the fact that in states such as Montana and many others, the use of marijuana for medical purposes is deemed to be both legitimate and legal.
I applaud the jury in New Hampshire! I also applaud Judge Forrest! In what is mostly a storm of bad news, here are two rays of light. Somehow, however, I doubt that we will need to reach for our sunglasses.
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