Monday, April 30, 2007
In a case dated April 30, 2007 the Supreme Court decided that police are now able to use force in a high-speed pursuit to stop an individual that is driving recklessly from harming others. The 8-1 decision in Scott v. Harris No. 05-1631 that gives police extended powers during high speed pursuits was not found to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This amendment gives an individual the right to be free from unreasonable searches. Justice Scalia said that this decision by the court holds true “even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death.” Deputy Scott had hit the car that the 19-year-old Harris was driving. Harris lost control of his vehicle. He is now paralyzed and has attempted to sue. Since the Fourth Amendment was not violated he cannot sue for damages.
Harris was being chased because he was speeding. I know that the job of the police is supposed to be to protect all people. I wonder though, how well are they protecting all people if they are including themselves in the high-speed chase over speeding tickets? Could more people possibly be harmed from police forcing drivers off of the road for crimes such as a speeding ticket? Could the outcome not have been perhaps an extra fine of some sort for Harris? I’m kind of torn over this case. I want the police to be able to protect me, but at the same time I want my rights protected and not to see a police chase every time someone goes speeding down the highway. The courts have decided to give the police force more police power in order to “protect the people.” I just wonder where it ends. Hopefully it won’t go beyond this point.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
It seems that most of the private property owners are protecting the land from development, not preparing it to be sold to developers. If we consider economic prosperity of this effort, it clearly support the right of private property. It is also a good example of the corrective state involving preservation of land and natural resources. Maybe this fad will catch on.
As James Madison stated in his Essay on Property in 1792, "Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own". So how is the Government going to react to these land purchases? Will they press for more eminent domain to take over the land to sell and make a profit, keep it as a public use? Even though it seems most of the private landowners will protect it. How will the Supreme Court react when faced with a case for the Takings Clause that has no grounds? Will they redefine takings and public use language again to come up with a public purpose policy? Or will they agree with common sense and let the private property remain private without government intervention?
Friday, April 27, 2007
In early April of 2007 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went over to the Middle East to conduct foreign policy. The concern that myself as well as author Frank Salvato has is that the Constitution does not authorize the Speaker of the House to conduct foreign policy in the manner in which Pelosi did. That power is strictly delegated to the Executive Branch of government. As Salvato writes “this isn’t to say that Congress doesn’t have any authority over the formulation of US foreign policy, it certainly does.” Article 2, section 8 is the part of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, States, and Indian Tribes. However, Salvato notes that it is Article 3, Section 2 that authorizes the President to make treaties, appoint Ambassadors, Judges of the Supreme Court, etc. Congress has the power to regulate business in the US and foreign nations and the President has the ability to appoint individuals to represent the US in foreign affairs.
Knowing all of the information presented above leads me to ask why the Speaker of the House thought it was appropriate for her to go over to the Middle East. She took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. So why, then would she even take this step? Some have suggested that this is an attempt by Congress to undermine President Bush or for Congress to overpower the Executive Branch period. I guess that it doesn’t really matter why she chose to do it. The point is that the Constitution clearly leaves that area of foreign policy to the Executive Branch. It is the choice of the Secretary of the State to go to foreign countries for diplomatic reasons, not the choice of Nancy Pelosi. I agree with author Frank Salvato that this situation has created a constiutional crisis.
Personal feelings aside I believe that the court has made the wrong decision. The court has turned over Roe v. Wade. Obviously, as it has proven several times, the court has no respect for precedent. The country is founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Of course there is the age old argument, does a fetus have a right to life? Are they people until they are born? At what point do they become people. Either way there is no statement in the constitution that can be used to justify banning abortion.
For me personally I am in favor of banning partial birth abortion. I would support a medical stipulation to the ban. Still, I am not sure that there would be no awareness of health risks that far along in a pregnancy. This is causing a paradox for me between liberty and morals. Who's to say that anyone has the right to tell someone whether or not they can have an abortion. I do not know if one could say that an abortion causes negative externalities and therefor justifies government interference. If we could say that it was a negative externality to the fetus then the solution would be to tax abortion, it seems like a strange solution but maybe it is the correct one. There seems to be no concrete answeres to these questions. It seems that whoever has the power of the White House determines which way this law will go. We will continue to see laws on abortion change.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Slacking of the ropes
I also believe their is some rent seeking behavior on behalf of the industry. Some of the biggest industries that OSHA regulates gave more than $630 million in political contributions since 2000, with more than half going to Republicans.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Legally, Cablevision should be able to rollout their new product without any interference from the New York government. That is, NY should not be able to prohibit the production and selling of any product. The only question is whether the new recorder violates the liberties of any specific person or group. For the most part, I think not. I believe that 99% of the people who use the system will just be watching the shows that they missed or re-watching the shows that they enjoyed the most. However, since the new system would allow people to put the programs on their computer, there is a significant probability that the television shows could end up on a website (You-Tube?). Again though, this is not the major concern for Hollywood studios. They don’t make their profits from individual consumers. Rather, they make their billions from the companies who buy commercial time. So, while the case and the ruling seem correct, there seems to be a case of rent-seeking involved. Either way, I think that the courts decided correctly in protecting the television studios that could possibly go out of business if a system like that was provided to such a large number of consumers.
The Constitution doesn’t give congress the power to regulate production (Although in many cases The Supreme Court has granted congress this very power). The new law would involve individual states regulating the production of cars in their respective state in order to lower carbon dioxide emissions. As long as the state government doesn’t create a monopoly or a market failure, they should be able to regulate (not prohibit) the production of automobiles. As far as I can see, there is no market failure of any sort involved. Nor do I see any infringement on the liberties of the auto manufacturers. All that Vermont and the other nine states are asking is for manufacturers to lessen the emissions that their cars produce. Under the constitution and using my general understanding of liberty, I see no reason why any court would rule in favor of the auto companies.
Monday, April 09, 2007
After reading this article I am confused as to what exactly our government thinks it is doing. We have already learned about all the great things congress has the power to regulate, like global warming for example. Now it seems that pretty much anything we own is actually congresses. Apparently they can take our private property for whatever use they please and if we refuse we can be thrown in jail. It was believed that this video tape had some evidence on it of some sort and I guess that was the reasoning behind the taking. In the article it mentions that it turned out the video tape did not even show what investigators were looking for. So why exactly was Joshua Wolf jailed for over seven months? Well, I guess I can't say. I never read anything that says if you don't surrender your private property to the government you can be thrown in jail. I understand the concept of takings for public use with just compensation but this case doesn't seem to make any sense. Apparently the government has a lot more power than what has been specifically given to it by the constitution.
Global Warming and the Courts
I agree with Chief Justice Roberts. I am not sure how the plaintiffs passed the three prong standing test. To be granted standing you must prove: first that injury was sustained; second that the injury was caused by the action in question; and third it is likely that the outcome will favor the injured party. How did the state of Massachusetts prove that injury was sustained? Justice Stevens said it met the requirements because global warming was raising the see level along its coast, if the government did something then harm would be reduced. I don't believe this is enough to prove the first two parts of the test. It sounds ridiculous to me that justice Stevens and the other five in the majority would agree with him. The rising sea level could be because of other countries failing to regulate greenhouse gases. I also don't think that the Clean Air Act that was passed in 1963 had anything to do with regulating CO2 from cars, but rather combating smog in cities. I think that the Court has overstepped its constitutional boundaries. The President and congress should be passing legislation to combat the effects of greenhouse gases not the Court. Even at a state level Massachusetts could better control how much CO2 they want to emit with harder emissions test. The E.P.A. can not hold full responsibility. California, for instance, has stricter emissions for regulating CO2 than the federal government. Massachusetts could do the same if they were really worried about their rising coast line.