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Forced Blood Draws, DNA Collection, and Biometric Scans: What Country Is This? PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 08:35
“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway, and jail official. The framers would be appalled.” – Herman Schwartz, The Nation

Our freedoms – especially the Fourth Amendment – are being choked out by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, Taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases – these are just a few ways in which Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.

Worse, on a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are – our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.) – to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that increasingly defines life in the United States: We are all guilty until proven innocent.

 
Rauner Makes Huge Mistake with Budget Address PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich MIller   
Sunday, 01 March 2015 05:50

A rookie mistake has led to some big problems.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton both believed that Governor Bruce Rauner would ask to postpone the scheduled February 18 budget address.

The current fiscal year’s outlook was so incredibly dire that the veteran Democratic leaders figured that neophyte Rauner would want to first tackle that problem before moving on to the mess in the budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Rauner declined, declaring that a deadline was a deadline.

He should’ve asked for a delay.

 
Don’t Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol – Keep Government Out! PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by James C. Wilson   
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 06:48

On February 20, U.S. Representatives Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced two new bills for federal marijuana legalization. The U.S. government’s practice of imprisoning, fining, harassing, and stigmatizing marijuana users is tragic and has damaged many lives. Ending prohibition is a welcome change, but these bills have severe problems. If passed, they would turn marijuana into a cartelized industry rather than a business opportunity for everyday people.

Blumenaur’s bill, The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015 (HR 1014), would place a federal excise tax on marijuana, and occupational taxes on the marijuana-related businesses. Polis’ HR 1013, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, would end federal prohibition of marijuana and transfer enforcement from the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives. The bills would subject marijuana to the same sort of taxation and regulation as alcohol and tobacco, using Colorado as a nationwide model. Such a regime would lead to the development of “big marijuana” firms similar to “big alcohol” and “big tobacco.”

 
Despite Promises, Rauner Presents a Booby-Trap Budget PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 22 February 2015 05:27

After he was elected governor but before he was sworn in to office, Bruce Rauner repeatedly lambasted Governor Pat Quinn and the legislative Democrats for passing a “booby trap” budget that was about to blow up in the state’s collective face.

Rauner was absolutely right. Last year’s budget was irresponsible and didn’t deal with the reality of the expiring income-tax hike. As a result, the state’s budget is in a terribly deep hole right now.

But did Governor Rauner really make all the “tough choices” necessary to get us out of that hole during his budget address, as he promised he would? Well, he sure proposed a lot of cuts. But he planted at least one major booby trap himself.

 
Help Restore the Power of the Grand Jury PDF Print E-mail
Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 09:58

On Tuesday, February 24, at 9 a.m., (previously incorrectly published as 8 a.m.) the annual selection of the Scott County Grand Jury will take place on the second floor of the Scott County Courthouse. This proceeding is open to the public, and the people should avail themselves of the opportunity to participate in one of the most constitutionally protected authorities still available to hold governments accountable.

The power of the grand jury is enormous. Most of us barely know of its existence, let alone embrace its vital relevance. The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution (1787) provided for grand juries as a means of checks and balances, ensuring that the people, not government, held the ultimate responsibility for providing justice: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury ... .”

The 1846 Iowa Constitution (Article 2, Section 11) reads: “No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offence, unless on presentment, or indictment by a grand jury, except in cases cognizable by justices of the peace, or arising in the army or navy, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger” (RCReader.com/y/jury1).

The 1857 Constitution of the State of Iowa (Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 11), asserts that “All offenses less than felony in which the punishment does not exceed a fine of one hundred dollars, or imprisonment for thirty days, shall be tried summarily before a Justice of the Peace, or other officer authorized by law, on information under oath, without indictment, or the intervention of a grand jury, saving to the defendant the right to appeal, and no person shall be held to answer for any higher criminal offense, unless on presentment or indictment by a grand jury, except in cases arising in the army, or navy, or in the militia, when in actual service, in time of war or public danger.”

Annually, 12 randomly selected members of the community form the Scott County Grand Jury, seven of whom are active, while five are alternates in case one of the seven cannot perform his or her duties. The grand jury has four primary responsibilities: (1) to provide indictments on criminal activities, whether brought by the county attorney or upon its own investigations; (2) to inspect the condition of all places of confinement in the county; (3) to investigate the circumstances involving prisoners who have not been indicted within the legal period of time (45 days upon incarceration); and (4) to investigate and indict misconduct by public employees, including elected and appointed officials.

 
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