Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Martial Law in Arkansas

Helena-West Helena Mayor James Valley has laid down the law after a series of shootings and other criminal acts in the delta town. Among the regulations that will be enforced by the 38-man police department is a 24-hour curfew zone in which "no loitering, or “hanging out” will be permitted. All foot traffic, bicycle, horseback, moped, motorcycle, riding mower, golf cart or other mode of transportation will be subject to stop and investigation."

“Without these drastic measures, the citizens in these affected areas will continue to live under siege,” commented the mayor.

The ACLU has said it will investigate, citing possible violations of the 4th amendment. Mayor Valley responded by inviting them to the dangerous areas so they can experience what it is like to be shot at!

I yield to no one in my respect for the constitution, and our regulars here will know that I have protested against things like the so-called "Patriot Act" because they infringe on our liberties. The U.S. constitution is not being violated by the Mayor's actions though, and here is why- the U.S. Constitution was meant to limit FEDERAL government power, not state and local. I realize that people- including judges, don't seem to understand that anymore, but it is a matter of historical and legal fact.

In 1874, when our state constitution was written, judges, politicians, and the general populace were not so ignorant of these distinctions as they are now. That is why our state constitution in Article 2 section 4 carries a similar provision about the right to freedom of assembly. If the Federal Constitution's provisions applied to state government, then the provision in the state constitution is superfluous. The reason they put it in the 1874 constitution is that they knew that the 4th Amendment was only a check against what the executive branch of the Federal government could do. It did not apply to state and local governments. Since they wanted the same protections from state and local governments, they put a similar provision in the state constitution.

If the ACLU wants to find a constitutional provision that the mayor may actually be violating, they may want to look at Article 2 of our state constitution.

That being said, I do want to point out that self-government, including constitutional republics, only work for a virtuous populace. Apparently parts of Helena-West Helena are populated by a large contingent of wicked folks. Our form of government simply will not work if that is the case. Indeed I fear our country as a whole is losing the capacity for self-government as we slide into depravity, moral relativism, and plain old evil. If these trends are not reversed I fear that at some point all of our protections against government will be tossed aside as desperate citizens turn to a strong leader to protect us from one another.


Anonymous st.lucia said...

Wow, several good points. It's not common to think in terms of the separation of the federal and state governments.

9:29 AM, August 14, 2008  

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