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Conservative justices chopping away liberties

Well, conservatives, while you were oiling your guns and fuming about abortion, the justices appointed by your presidents have been chopping away at the liberties of all of us, never to be regained.

Long ago, when school children were suspended for wearing black arm bands to protest the Vietnam war, the Supreme Court declared that the Constitution does not stop at the schoolhouse door (1st Amendment, freedom of speech). Now we know that it does. If your daughter wants to write for the school paper, she can be required to be tested for drugs (4th Amendment, prohibition of unreasonable searches). A policeman can cuff you and take you to jail, abandoning your child in the car, if your seat belt is not fastened or, perhaps, the light on your license plate is out.



Your car can be confiscated if your son gives a ride to a friend dealing in pot. Police with a warrant do not have to knock or identify themselves. If they mistake the house, there could be a shootout with the gun owner, as has happened. A policeman can look through your window to see if he wants to arrest your visitor. The later established innocence of a convict is irrelevant if he has had a “fair trial.” A teacher, acting in loco parentis, can hit your child rather severely.

A state can discriminate against its employees for any reason whatsoever, be it age, disability, or race. And your president wants to appoint more Scalias and Thomases.




There were no civil liberties for anyone before the establishment of the American Civil Liberties Union, because nobody took the government to court. The Alien and Sedition Acts, under John Adams, our second president, criminalized arousing discontent with the government. They eventually expired or were repealed, but never challenged in court.

The ACLU works through lawsuits to implement the Constitution’s restrictions on the government, which are constantly being violated. Violations usually start with the most marginal persons among us. Those who hate the ACLU are very uncomfortable with the Constitution.

Leo Subotnik

Nevada City


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