thanks for writing this!
"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another....
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance...
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people....
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance....
excerpts from the Declaration of Independence
I was in prison, and you came unto me. Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. – Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:35, 46)
The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. – Fyodor Dostoevsky
What you do to these men, you do to GOD! – Mother Teresa
I will miss your reviews. They were the best!
Thank you for your letter. Your perspectives on liberty and proper role of government are always appreciated.
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time -- the constitutional government was meant to limit government, particularly the federal government. Those who support the war on drugs support authoritarianism, not the Constitution. The Framers never intended government to function as parent of the people, especially an abusive parent at that.
----Dr. Ken Miller worries that legalization could lead to more young people consuming cannabis. He feels that marijuana's illegality is a "gatekeeper standing in the way to keep it from being marketed to the youth." ----
Dr. Miller’s reason for keeping marijuana not legal is disappointing but, perhaps, not surprising. Authoritarianism does not make for good government or a good society. Control does not strike the root.
When people know how to think, they can make good decisions where there is opportunity to do so. Binge drinking is symptomatic of the government as parent, authoritarian model, not to mention a dysfunctional culture.
Keeping marijuana illegal will not prevent binge drinking, prescription drug misuse, or other problems such as huffing, or the “choking game” (no corporation or illegal device involved). If you really care about youth, about people, in general, then you would not support a drug war policy that has contributed to America having the highest incarceration rate in the world at no net decrease in substance misuse, in fact, greater problems because of the prohibition factor. Studies on tobacco show that the more education a person has the less likely that person will be a regular consumer of tobacco. Seems a more superior model to follow, don’t you think. Studies also show that youth who believe they have opportunities in their future are more inclined to make better decisions. Young people who are without hope or a clear picture of their future will always be vulnerable, laws or no laws.
As an older person, I do not need government’s permission to consume cannabis, nor do I want government monitoring my consumption in the form of a prescription. Just give me truthful, accurate info about the product, and I can make my own decisions.
Incidentally, as a young person, marijuana was much easier to obtain than alcohol, so it is hard to appreciate any argument supporting maintaining the status quo in terms of protecting young people. As far as corporations go, we have home brews, micro brews and we have corporations. Please don’t continue to support a police economy that has trashed civil liberties while diverting precious dollars from education to law enforcement and prisons in the name of preventing corporate control.
Is Dr. Miller suggesting that government control over decision making is not as bad as corporate influence over decision making? How about getting our culture to think and care about facts, then, maybe, manipulation by government, corporations, or other special interests (like medical marijuana profiteers) might be placed in proper perspective.
Although it is commonly taught that the first Justice Marshall was responsible for bringing into being judicial review, in the words of Justice Ginsberg (C-Span interview), judicial review is implicit in the Constitution, but Justice Marshall made it explicit.
The Constitution embodies the presumption that the tendency of government is to abuse its power and provides for protections against bad government and bad law in the form of checks and balances, such as the power of each house of congress to expel unfit members, the impeachment power to remove bad executives or bad judges, two houses of the legislature, the executive veto power, congressional override power, and the third branch of government, the courts of justice. In the words of one of the Framers --“the independence of the judges may be an essential safeguard against the effects of occasional ill humors in the society. These sometimes extend no farther than to the injury of the private rights of particular classes of citizens, by unjust and partial laws.” (Hamilton, FP #78).
There is no express or implied constitutional requirement for the court to render decisions “based purely on the integrity of legal precedent.” The justices like all federal officers are required, by oath or affirmation, to support the Constitution (Article VI). Precedent is appropriate only where it serves the interest of justice and other constitutional purposes (see Preamble).
Having a constitutional amendment that would remove the court as a check against legislative encroachment would be to deny citizens a very important protection against abuse by government in the form of bad legislation, which was anticipated by the Framers. (See discussion of improper laws in Federalist Papers #16, #22, #73, #78, #83 among other places.)
Representatives of other states are not accountable to me, yet by majority rule, they have the power to unjustly infringe upon my liberty. Court review is there to provide me the opportunity to have unjust legislation voided.
Further, democracy is only as good as the quality of elections (equal opportunity for all candidates) and the competence of the voters (adequately informed and having capacity to decide), otherwise majority rule reduces down to mob rule. Just because a person has the power of the vote doesn’t mean that person decides wisely.
I do believe the Supreme Court has failed the people on more than one occasion, and I am not a fan of lifetime tenure, but blindly trusting in the legislature with an essentially unlimited license in the form of a constitutional amendment is scary. It is also abdication. Power is probably one of the most intoxicating substances known to humankind. Citizens should never cede power to government unless absolutely necessary.
In Print This Week:
Dec 5, 2013
vol XXIV issue 49
The North Coast Journal Weekly
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