Texas State Representative David Simpson, a Republican, filed a bill last week that would abolish civil asset forfeiture in Texas by requiring a criminal conviction before property can be seized by the state. That bill joins similar pending legislation in Oklahoma, offered by State Senator Nathan Dahm, also a Republican.
Adam Bates | All Articles
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AAdam Bates is a policy analyst with Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice. His research interests include Constitutional law, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, police militarization, and overcriminalization.
Bates received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Miami (FL), where he also walked onto the Miami Hurricanes football team, and both an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and a J.D. from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the Oklahoma bar.
September was a bad month for one of America’s most cherished political traditions. The U.S. Constitution separates the powers of the federal government into three distinct branches in order to safeguard against too much power being accumulated by any one person, body, or court. The shenanigans of the U.S. government over the past several weeks have shown conclusively that those safeguards have withered to nothing.
Since Barack Obama swept to office running against the abuses of the Bush Administration, the Bush policy of indefinitely detaining accused enemy combatants has largely been replaced with targeted killings. One wonders whether supporters of Senator Barack Obama’s broadsides against the Bush detention policy quite understood what they were getting in its place. The Obama administration’s drone war is controversial for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that several American citizens have been killed in such strikes. That tally includes at least one American, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was explicitly targeted for death by the U.S. government.
“I think we would be totally in the right to [execute homosexuals]. That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I'm largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”
This week brought us two seemingly separate stories from the world of college football that have everything to do with one another. First, the potential game-changer: the Chicago branch of the National Labor Relations Board found that the football players of Northwestern qualify as “employees” under the terms of the National Labor Relations Act, which clears a hurdle to their unionization, ushering in the specter of collective bargaining. The NCAA, over the unmistakable sound of Mark Emmert hyperventilating into a paper bag, immediately screeched its disapproval, insisting that college athletes are students rather than employees.
Wednesday’s oversight hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee vindicated civil libertarians skeptical of the surveillance state, but it also deserves to be remembered for the Obama Administration’s introduction of a concept so absurd and Orwellian that we can only conclude that the national security apparatus has jumped the shark.
While the Obama Administration continues to fight logic and law over what the definition of “is” is in Egypt’s bloodbath, August 19th is a good day to take note of the U.S. government’s earliest and most consequential forays into modern Middle Eastern politics. If the battle lines in Egypt, between secular autocrats and a fractured alliance of religious and liberal reformers look familiar, it’s for good reason. We’ve been down this road before.
Virtually every aspect of the George Zimmerman trial has been written into the ground already, but scant attention has been paid to the lunacy of minority advocacy organizations insisting that the Department of Justice intercede further in this dud of a case. Setting aside everything else that’s been said or screamed about it, the statements by organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are especially perverse.
To hear the Obama administration tell it, the only citizenry on earth that should not have access to weapons is the one whose founding document guarantees access to weapons.
In a recent piece, New York Times columnist David Brooks attacked Edward Snowden and lamented the trust gap between the American people and their government shown by the NSA leaking scandal and America’s reaction to it. Snowden, according to Brooks, did not give proper respect to the “invisible bonds” that hold society together.
This week the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments regarding two potentially watershed cases involving the right of gay Americans to be married. Hollingsworth v. Perry deals with California’s gay marriage ban (known as Prop 8), while United States v. Windsor deals with the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Whatever magic Barack Obama uses to beguile American audiences into credulity apparently stayed in Washington as the president visited the Middle East last week.
While the proceedings against both Pfc. Bradley Manning (who leaked thousands of classified documents regarding the U.S. government’s war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan) and former CIA agent John Kiriakou (who leaked classified information about the CIA’s torture regime) have generated a wealth of opinions regarding the moral merit of government whistleblowing, a crucial bit of context is sorely lacking from the national discussion: how much we now depend on such leaks for any semblance of the truth about what the U.S. government is doing in our name and with our money around the globe.
Some resistance to President Obama’s selection of Republican Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense was to be expected. After all, in his distinguished career Chuck Hagel has come to represent so many qualities that Barack Obama’s utterly prodigal administration has rejected: Sen. Hagel has shown a preference for deliberation and reason to rash action and politics, diplomatic and commercial engagement to wanton violence, and fiscal sanity to reckless, debt-laden extravagance.
As a civil libertarian and a gun owner, I understand all too well that tragedies like the Newtown mass murder invariably mean a new wave of assaults on our most fundamental rights as human beings. 9/11 brought us the TSA, the Patriot Act, and the War on Terror, and every mass shooting brings out the same authoritarian coalition calling for an end to video games, movies, secular education, and, of course, guns. I have written in the past about why we should cling most dearly to our rights in times of crisis, but have only recently caught on to a much more deceptive (perhaps unwitting) foe of our right to bear arms: the National Rifle Association.
Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his potential vice president has predictably set off a storm of commentary from Republicans and Democrats alike. Notably, in these immensely divisive (so we’re told) times, the bulk of the commentary from both sides of the aisle seems to be operating on the same basic reality: that Paul Ryan is a paragon of fiscal conservatism. Obviously both sides have different opinions about the implications of this reality, but the underlying premise is the same.
As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama struggle in vain to demonstrate that they are ideologically distinct from each other in any meaningful way, a less visible but more consequential battle continues to broil within the Republican Party. An infusion of Republicans zealously committed to the rule of law and limited government has evoked a vicious and occasionally violent response from the old guard of the GOP, frightened of seeing the social conservatism and neo-conservatism that have typified the Republican Party over the last generation swept away by natural law ideas long dormant on the national stage. Nowhere are the contours of this fight more clearly defined than in Oklahoma.
As our perpetually jerked-knee news machine continues to rhetorically lynch everyone from tea partiers to Trekkies for the horrible shooting in a Colorado movie theater last night, maybe it’s time to ask ourselves whether there are some problems for which there is simply no tangible solution. What if there are some people who, to quote a famous and soon-to-be-demonized movie franchise, “just want to watch the world burn”?
The shenanigans I witnessed at the Oklahoma State Republican Convention a few days ago ranged from petty, to absurd, to unjust, to downright violent, irreparably damaging the legitimacy of the Oklahoma Republican Party leadership and, by extension, the Republican presidential nominating process those leaders so brazenly abused.