Wednesday, July 03, 2019

From the Archives: Attorney General Cuccinelli calls Charlottesville ABC sting operation 'overkill'

Attorney General Cuccinelli calls Charlottesville ABC sting operation 'overkill'
July 3, 2013 4:17 PM MST

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli characterized as “overkill” an ABC sting operation in Charlottesville that resulted in a University of Virginia coed spending a night in jail and being charged with three felonies.

Ken Cuccinelli ABC sting Elizabeth Daly Charlottesville
Cuccinelli, who is also the 2013 Republican nominee for governor, made his remarks during a July 3 interview with afternoon radio host Coy Barefoot on WCHV-FM.

The April 11th incident has received national attention since the charges against Elizabeth Daly were dropped by Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman on June 27. Change.org is currently circulating a petition demanding that the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control apologize to Daly and her two companions and to discipline the officers involved.

Late in the evening of April 11, Daly and two friends purchased cookie dough, ice cream, and canned sparkling water at the Harris Teeter store in Barracks Road Shopping Center. A group of six ABC agents, mistaking the water for beer, approached them.

The women did not recognize the agents as law enforcement personnel, called 911 to report their fears, panicked, and drove away. Daly was subsequently charged with striking two of the agents with her car and evading arrest, charges that brought with them the threat of up to 15 years in prison.

Well-placed concern

“I think your concern for overkill is well-placed,” Cuccinelli told Barefoot. “Mind you, I have not spoken to the agency about this,” he explained, so his knowledge of the situation has been based upon press reports.

However, Cuccinelli added, “these folks have a job to do, but do you really need a half dozen of them? Let's say this was hard liquor” that Daly allegedly bought. “So what?”

Based on the descriptions he had seen, the Attorney General said, “it seems to me that frankly – even if she bought beer or something – she got more than enough punishment in jail.”

Cuccinelli said, putting himself in the shoes of the women that night, “if I see a bunch of men surrounding me, that's going to instill a lot of fear in me.”

'Extreme measures'

Noting that, as an undergraduate at UVA, he had helped start a sexual assault prevention group on campus, Cuccinelli explained that he is “glad it didn't turn out worse than it did. It would have turned out worse for the agents. If I'm defending myself and I'm in my car, and I'm a young woman worried about sexual assault, I'm going to use extreme measures to keep myself safe.”

Why, he asked, “do we have six ABC agents staking out one store? It doesn't seem particularly wise. You end up with confrontations like this that could turn out a lot worse.”

Asked by Barefoot if he would teach his daughters to behave with the same sort of caution that Daly and her companions displayed that night, Cuccinelli exclaimed: “Absoflippinlutely!

“I would never suggest to my daughters that they just trust what they've been told,” by people who might or might not be law enforcement officers. Those women, he said, “did exactly the right thing” by calling 911 and attempting to drive to the nearest police station.

“The important thing for us on the law enforcement side is we need to learn from this,” Cuccinelli said. “We need to be more concerned about the perspective of the person on the street.”

He pointed out that “the average person buying alcohol, even if they're buying it illegally, does not have the idea of escalating [the act] violently to complete the crime.”

Cuccinelli expressed confidence that higher-level officials at the ABC had already “had some serious conversations with [the agents] about their tactics.”

Looking forward, the gubernatorial candidate concluded, “what the rest of us need to do is [to ensure] the likelihood of this ever happening again gets as close to zero as we can make it.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on July 3, 2013. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.



Saturday, June 29, 2019

From the Archives: Charlottesville civil liberties lawyer assesses 2012-13 Supreme Court term

Charlottesville civil liberties lawyer assesses 2012-13 Supreme Court term
June 29, 2013 11:10 PM MST

After 40 years of practicing law, Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead says he is “creeped out” by the decline in respect for civil liberties in the United States.

Whitehead, author of the new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State (released June 25 by SelectBooks), spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner at the Barracks Road Barnes & Noble just before delivering a talk about his fears of increasing authoritarianism in the United States.

John Whitehead Rutherford Institute Supreme Court
A longtime civil-liberties attorney who once represented Paula Jones in her lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, Whitehead offered his assessment of the U.S. Supreme Court term that ended on June 26 with a pair of rulings about gay marriage.

“One of the worst” terms ever, he said sharply.

This year, he said, the Supreme Court “basically upheld policemen taking you into custody and not giving you your Miranda warnings.” The Court also, he explained, eroded the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination because “now by being silent it's evidence of guilt.”

The Court, he added “approved the strip searching of anybody. If you're arrested now you can be strip searched by police for minor offenses like running a stop sign.”

'Statist Supreme Court'

“What I'm seeing is a very statist Supreme Court,” Whitehead explained.

“Some people say it's a right-wing Supreme Court. Well, I'm not sure it's right-wing. I put it more in the statist camp.”

He said the voting rights decision (in Shelby County v. Holder) was made “as if racism's no longer in America. Well, what I'm seeing in America is, there is a lot of racism.”

He gave the example of how “90 percent of the people who are arrested for marijuana offenses in New York City are either African-American or Hispanic but all evidence shows that whites smoke marijuana at a much higher rate than people with brown skin.”

Justices of the Supreme Court, Whitehead cautioned, are “living in an ivory tower.”

Supreme Court members are “chauffeured about in limousines and they don't know what we have to go through out here, especially if we're people of color.”

Dissenters

On Fourth Amendment rights, Whitehead noted that “Justice [Antonin] Scalia, whom I've been critical of in the past, and the women on the Supreme Court have been great in their dissents.”

Four instance, he said, those four justices objected “to the forced taking of DNA from people now. If you're arrested for anything, they can go into your body and take your DNA.”

The DNA decision is part of what Whitehead calls “the new movement toward bodily probing.”

He explained that, “in large cities across the country, police are stopping men on the street and doing rectum searches, sometimes causing bleeding. This is without a warrant, without arresting them.”

He gave the example of how recently in Texas, “two women were pulled over for throwing a cigarette out of a car. The policeman accused them of smoking marijuana” but when he found no cannabis in the car, “he called for back up, [who] did vaginal and rectum searches on the women without changing their gloves.”

Those Texas police officers, he said, have “been sued for a million and a half – and they should have been sued.”

'462 words'

Offering advice to citizens, Whitehead warned, “I just say, be alert. Let's read the Bill of Rights again. Most people don't even know what's in the Bill of Rights. It's 462 words but most people have never read it. Can you believe that? 462 words, you can read it in less than five minutes.”

Because “we're not teaching [the Constitution] in school anymore, people don't know” what it says.

“If you're stopped on the street and they want to do a really weird search on you,” Whitehead advised, “assert your Fourth Amendment rights.” The police “have to have probable cause.” Before they begin a search, he said, citizens should ask, “Am I doing something illegal, officer?

Next: John Whitehead talks about the growing American police state.


Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on June 29, 2013. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Friday, June 28, 2019

From the Archives: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says Obamacare decision is 'a win for liberty'

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says Obamacare decision is 'a win for liberty'
June 28, 2012 11:30 AM MST

In a press conference today, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said that the Supreme Court’s health-care decision was a “victory for individual liberty” and that his initial reaction to the ruling was more negative than it ought to have been.

Ken Cuccinelli Obamacare SCOTUS health care commerce clause
Speaking to reporters in Richmond and via telephone conference call, Cuccinelli called the ruling “a win for liberty” and explained that for the first time in 85 years, the Supreme Court had set “an outer limit” on the expansion of federal authority through the Commerce Clause.

He said that by its 5-4 ruling on the limits of the Commerce Clause, the Court had put in place a “critically important containment of federal power” and that in the parts of the ruling dealing with Medicaid, the justices had for the first time since the New Deal said that Congress has limited power to compel states to act through its spending authority.

Politics and legislation

Moreover, Cuccinelli argued, by defining the individual mandate as a “tax,” as Chief Justice Roberts did in his majority opinion, the Court opened up political challenges to the law because Congress’s taxing authority is the most accountable and sensitive of its powers to popular will.

By calling it a tax, he said, the Court (specifically the Chief Justice) removes the political cover for those legislators who claimed not to have voted for a tax increase. They can no longer go back to their home districts and say they did not vote for a tax, he said, and thus they will be subject to the judgment of voters on Election Day.

Given that, Cuccinelli predicted that, with the impending elections this November, the ruling will show the critical role that voters play in “ensuring that their liberties are preserved.”

‘Bipartisan failure’
As a policy matter, Cuccinelli said, health-care legislation has been “a bipartisan failure” and that the Affordable Care Act is such a “bad policy” that even the people who supported it are backing away from it, as a constitutional matter, “individual liberty has been substantially preserved in this case.”

He also noted that, apart from the aspects of the law addressed in the decisions delivered by the Court today, there are still matters about the ACA that continue to be litigated. He gave as an example the lawsuit filed by the Catholic bishops with regard to contraceptives.

Federalism preserved
Cuccinelli said that the justices came to their decision in an “unlikely way,” but that “if there had been five votes to compel us into commerce, federalism would have been dead,” pointing out that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent on the Commerce Clause part of the ruling, claimed that the “Commerce Clause power is plenary,” that is, unlimited.

Wrapping up, the Virginia Attorney General said that upon reflection, his analysis of the Supreme Court’s health-care ruling is more muted than his initial reaction was, and that “by and large” the decision preserved individual liberty.


Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on June 28, 2012. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.



Sunday, June 23, 2019

From the Archives: 5 years after Kelo v. New London: Are property rights safe?

5 years after Kelo v. New London: Are property rights safe?
June 23, 2010 7:54 PM MST

In its 1972 ruling in Lynch v. Household Finance Corporation, the U.S. Supreme Court explained:

“Property does not have rights. People have rights. The right to enjoy property without unlawful destruction, no less than the right to speak or the right to travel, is in truth a ‘personal’ right.” The court went on to declare that “a fundamental interdependence exists between the personal right to liberty and the personal right to property.”

Property rights – a shorthand term for the rights of people to own and use property – and human rights are indistinguishable. One cannot exist without the other. The right to a free press is impossible without the right to own ink or a photocopier or a typewriter. The right to free exercise of religion is not possible without the right to own churches and seminaries and cemeteries and Talmuds and schools.

Kelo v. New London
It is fitting today to remember these fundamentals because five years ago, on June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court undercut Americans’ property rights in the case of Kelo v. City of New London. In that case, the Court ruled that governments can take the property of one person, using the power of eminent domain, and hand it over to another person, who may be able to generate more tax revenues from the property than the original owner was able to do – or chose to do.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to hold property and to make contracts using that property. The Fifth Amendment makes plain that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

Property Rights Under Attack
Still, property rights are under assault throughout the United States. Through taxation and regulation, state and federal governments are impeding our rights to do what we please with our property, even if we are not harming other people or their property.

Rick Sincere kelo new london examiner.com property rights scotus
Towns and cities across the country, for example, have begun to designate certain neighborhoods as “historic districts,” usually without the consent of homeowners in those neighborhoods. This designation is accompanied by hundreds of restrictions regarding what homeowners can do with their property, such as whether they can repaint their homes, put up aluminum siding, replace a roof, cut down a tree, and so forth.

This is not a trivial issue. It affects any person who owns property, whether a residence or a business. “Historic district” designations strike at the root of individual liberty and should not be dismissed lightly. Much is at stake. In fact, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled a similar law unconstitutional because it took away the decision making capacity of homeowners in favor of a politically defined “public good,” thus taking private property for public use without just compensation.

Environmental regulations do much the same. Thousands of acres of farms, ranches, and residential areas have been declared “wetlands” that deserve government protection. The owners of the designated property are not permitted to plant crops, graze cattle, or build homes or factories on government-designated “wetlands” unless they can cut through miles of red tape.

Kelo’s Legacy
The Kelo decision states that it is permissible for the government to use eminent domain to seize one person's property and give it to another. The recipient is almost invariably wealthier and better connected politically than the victim of the seizure.

In the aftermath of Kelo, the good news is that the American people demanded that laws be made to reject the Court’s decision. Across the country, state legislatures have passed statutes or even constitutional amendments to protect people against eminent domain abuse. (In Virginia, the law is somewhat better than it was but still weaker than it should be.)

The bad news -- sadly ironic news -- is that the situation that started it all, Pfizer's demand that the city of New London, Connecticut, destroy a working-class neighborhood to create housing for its high-paid executives, turned out to be moot. Pfizer pulled out of the project, which was never built, and Suzette Kelo's former neighborhood is a desert, populated only by "feral cats," as one chronicler noted. New London took a vibrant cityscape and turned it into blight.

Kelo’s lesson is that nobody’s property is safe, even though property rights should be seen, properly, as one component the bundle of basic human rights that each individual possesses.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on June 23, 2010. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.



Saturday, April 20, 2019

Guest post: Easter – a Christian festival that feels pagan


Jane Stevenson, University of Oxford

There’s a lot of confusion about Easter – not least because this most important of all Christian festivals moves around so much from year to year, decided by a complex set of calculations based on the vernal equinox and the phase of the moon. Easter symbols – eggs, bunnies, lambs and the rest – give the festivities an air of pre-Christian paganism.

happy easter chocolate candy crossSo where do the origins of Easter and the rituals observed by so many – whether Christian or not – really lie?

The first mention of Eostre is in the eighth century, in The Venerable Bede’s frustratingly cryptic account of the native Anglo-Saxon calendar in De Temporum Ratione (On the Reckoning of Time). The Anglo-Saxon equivalent of April called Eostremonath is named for the goddess Eostre – but we only know about Eostre via Bede’s writings and the only thing he tells us about her is that “feasts were celebrated” in her honour. So, if modern Easter is frequently a festival of overeating, this has tradition on its side.

But Eostre was evidently significant enough for the Anglo-Saxons to later transfer her name to the Christian festival of the resurrection rather than adopting the Latin name “Pascha”.

Similarly, Easter is “Ostern” in German – which implies she must have been known outside England. Confusingly, the great 19th-century folklorist and philologist, Jacob Grimm, invented a German goddess called Ostara – “the divinity of the radiant dawn, upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing” – on purely etymological grounds: the name is derived from a proto-Indo-European root meaning “to shine”. But Grimm didn’t present a shred of supporting evidence that such a deity had ever been worshipped in Germany, leaving us with just Bede to go on.

Easter roughly coincides with the spring equinox – so there is a good deal of lore attached to the season which is not actually Christian. Easter is preceded by Lent – a period of fasting in memory of Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness. But it is also a season when, in pre-modern Europe, food would have been running low. Winter supplies would have been coming to an end and there was not enough sun and spring growth yet for hens to start laying and cows to give milk. In a sense, therefore, Easter is a natural feast – to celebrate passing out of that hardship.

Easter and Passover


The association of lamb with Easter is something we have borrowed from Jewish tradition and Passover – which was also the festival that Jesus and his disciples celebrated with their Last Supper.

At least as far back as the 15th century, Easter was also marked in England by eating “tansies” – a kind of custardy pudding made with the bitter (and poisonous) herb tansy and sometimes with other bitter greens such as nettles. The 17th-century antiquarian John Aubrey adds a further detail:

Our tansies at Easter have reference to the bitter Herbs [eaten at Passover by Jews] though at the same time ’twas always the Fashion for a man to have a gammon of Bacon, to shew himself to be no Jew.



Eggs are an ancient and natural symbol of returning life in many parts of Europe, but the Easter egg may also derive from Passover – which includes, among various symbolic foods, a roasted egg: the beitzah. Until at least the mid-20th century, more people marked Easter with decorated, hard-boiled hen’s eggs than chocolate ones.

The earliest documented mention in England of decorated eggs comes in 1290, from the household accounts of King Edward I for 1290, which records the purchase and decoration of 450 eggs , some gilded, some dyed. These eggs were presented to the royal household at Easter, and cost 18 pence.

In many parts of Britain the custom was for people, children especially, to play with their “pace-eggs” by rolling them down a chosen slope before eating them. In Iona and Peter Opie’s 1959 study The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, a child reports that: “In Cumberland we take more notice of the pace eggs than chocolate eggs.” Easter eggs as also rolled on the lawn of the US White House, a custom going back to 1878.

Bunny business


The association of hares with Easter also considerably predates foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies. As early as 1682, Georg Franck von Franckenau’s essay De ovis paschalibus (About Easter Eggs) speaks of a German tradition of an Easter hare bringing coloured Easter eggs for the children.

In southern Germany, children used to be told that a hare laid the pace-eggs and they would make a nest for the creature to lay them in. The Easter hare was also known in parts of the British Isles and was particularly associated with having to hunt out eggs hidden in the garden, where the hare was supposed to have put them.

A curious entry in the Calendar of State Papers for April 2 1620, suggests that hares were also often eaten at Easter:

Thos. Fulnety solicits the permission of Lord Zouch, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, to kill a hare on Good Friday, as huntsmen say that those who have not a hare against Easter must eat a red herring.

Hares were also ritually hunted at Easter in England – there is a note in the Chamberlains’ Accounts for the year 1574 that twelvepence was “given to the hare-finders at Whetston Court”.

An Easter hare hunt survived as part of Leicester’s ritual year as late as the 18th century, though by then a dead cat was substituted for an actual hare. Jacob Grimm, looking at this evidence for an association of ritual activity involving hares with the Easter season, conjectured that the hare was sacred to the goddess Ostara, piling one conjecture on top of another.

So the truth is that Easter rituals as we know them today represent an untidy collection of customs connected with celebrating spring growth and the end of austerity – a time for new clothes and rich food. Any connection with pre-Christian paganism is entirely coincidental.The Conversation

Jane Stevenson, Senior Research Fellow at Campion Hall, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.