Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Violating Separation of Powers for a Good Cause

It always starts for such practical reasons. I am talking about going around the constitution in the name of "expediency" and for a good cause. That is always how it starts and almost never how it ends up.

In this case I am talking about the activities of the "Violence Reduction Network". Why who in the world would have a problem with reducing violence? Me, if it means doing violence to the intent of the Constitution and violating the "separation of powers" as intended by our founders. In this case, the city prosecutors have started taking every crime involving guns to federal authorities and then "collaborating" on decisions about whether to pursue state or federal charges. Little Rock and West Memphis are two of the only five cities who have joined this program nationally, at least as of a year or so ago. Arkansas public officials really seem to take the lead in embracing heavy-handed centralization of power.

Yes, the people they are locking up are, for now, very bad people. Yes, two sets of government officials can take credit for locking up bad guys whereas before only one set could on each case. Yes, it shifts some dollars for prisons from the state budget to the federal budget. But it doesn't make us any safer- it makes us less safe. The ordinary criminals will be locked up either way, but the government criminals will be empowered by this measure.

Not every gun case should be a federal case. Indeed, none of them should because the 2nd amendment specifically forbids CONGRESS from making any law infringing on our right to "keep and bear arms". The Constitution does not authorize Congress to pass laws making a bunch of things crimes. Ordinary crime is supposed to be left to the states. Now the feds are injecting themselves into what was once the purview of the states alone.  What happens when a local prosecutor develops too cozy a relationship with the feds? It sets the stage for the eventual politicization of law enforcement on a national basis.

Federal Prosecutor Chris Thyer wondered "why have we not been doing this all along?" I think it is because in past generations we were more sensitive to the corrosive effects of all political and government power being drawn to Washington D.C. We wanted power decentralized. There were drawbacks to that, but they understood the advantages to local people managing their own affairs outweighed the costs. Since only five cities had joined up I think a lot of cities still understand the reason we have not been "doing this all along". I only wish that Little Rock and West Memphis did.

Look for what happens on a voluntary basis with Washington today to be tied to funding from Washington tomorrow, and mandatory regardless sometime after.  Every case is going to be "a federal case" if the feds want it to be. Combine that with the flawed thinking that there should only be one set of rules over the whole nation made by the elites in DC and everything they don't like should be outlawed and every idea they like should be mandatory and you have a recipe for an increasingly unfree society.

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