Monday, August 08, 2005

The ACLU vs. The NRA

Carl at No Oil For Pacifists has a post up about the ACLU's suit against the New York Police Department policy to search bags. Carl calls this "The Right to Be Murdered." While I agree with Carl that the Police should have the ability to search your bags when using the subway in New York, the ACLU is quite correct in that it is probably an illegal search and seizure. While I disagree with the ACLU's suit, it does have good legal standing and I would be surprised it the ACLU did not file suit.

But what really bothers me is that the same people (and I don't know Carl's position on this, so I am speaking in general) who will stand up and decry what the ACLU is doing as "the right to be murdered" will often be the same ones who will be in the front of the line defending the NRA and unfettered access to weapons such as 50 caliber rifles. These rifles can bring down a plane but the NRA will defend the right to own them as a paramount necessity. Any regulation would be a violation of the 2nd amendment.

Isn't it pretty hypocritical for people to attack the ACLU trying to defend against unlawful search and seizure while saying nothing about the NRA and their defense of the weapons that can kill us (or vice versa)?


Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

That 50 caliber argument is a good one- no ifs, ands or buts.

The ACLU suit is retrogressive- that is it may have been relevant pre 9/11, but not anymore.

Dingo said...

I agree. There is a need for it now. Yes, it is an invasion of our privacy and much more so than flying on a plane, but necessary.

MaxedOutMama said...

Dingo, how are the wisdom sockets doing? I winced at the news.

I would be very curious as to why you think the law does not allow searches for access to the subway. I have never heard of such reasoning being applied to areas such as a townhall or a courthouse.

As to the other, yes I suppose weapons are a possible danger. So is allowing whacked out people to drive, etc. Like the 4th, the 2nd is in the Constitution. And like the 4th, it is not an absolute right. Rights can't be.

I think what has changed since 9/11 is that now such a search for access to public areas has reasonable grounds under the law.

Dingo said...

doing better although they were really killing me last night for some reason. Thanks for asking.

I am not saying that it is completely illegal to search on the subway, but it is greatly differentiated from airports. In a city like New York, unless you make over 6 figures, you pretty much have to take public transportation (eg. it would cost me about $30 a day round trip just to go too and from work). But, air travel is much more voluntary and thus was the reasoning behind decisions in the court cases about searching you and your luggage in airports.

So, to live in NY, you pretty much have to consent to always be searched wherever you go and at anytime. In essence, it is not any different than the police being able to pull you over and search your car at any time for no reason. As you said, cars can be used as weapons... ie. Car bombs. Car bombs are commonly used in Iraq. Do you no have reservations about giving the police the right to pull you over randomly to search your car each and everytime you drive anywhere?

The difference with court houses is that there are known criminals there who would like to escape and it is were they would have easy access to non-prisoners who could bring guns in. I would also like to remind you of the wingnuts I posted a comment about on your blog to rebut something else you had said. If I remember right, it was a North Carolina man claiming that the 2nd amendment gave him the right to carry guns into a courthouse.

Like I said, I think the police should be searching, but the ACLU is on much better ground in this argument than against airport security and I can see their argument.

MaxedOutMama said...

Yeah, but no way was that person in whatever state going to win his case. It wasn't reasonable. All rights, even free speech, etc, have limitations.

They are and have been searching motor vehicles using some tunnels. It was one of the likely points of attack post 9/11.

If car bombs start to explode anywhere in the US, there will be random searches of vehicles at checkpoints. In practice, roadblocks as widely used around here do the same thing. You can object, but you are not likely to prevail.

Granted, Dingo, I don't like this world. But sometimes we only get bad alternatives.

NYgirl said...

I can see the Constitutional issues you raise, however, only unreasonable search & seizer is prohibited. It could be argued that, in light of the dangerous state we are in, such searches are reasonable.

Anonymous said...

You made the point on a post at my site that searches are not the answer because they are easily avoided. This may or may not be the case. The hallmark of AQ attacks is simultaneity (?) of the explosions. If nothing else these searches would likely disrupt such a plan and result in a diminishment of the impact. You also mentioned cameras and I'm sure they are in our future. They are great tools after the fact, as witnessed in London. I think searches and behavioral profiling are the only effective prevention tools, however. And as I said before, if we suffer another catastrophic attack, all these lawsuits by the ACLU will be moot. If you think our rights are in jeopardy now, well, I think you can kiss them goodbye if we have another 9-11 type catastrophe. And it won't matter who the President is. It could be Kucinich and the 4th amendment would still be an anachronism.

Chris P/M

Dingo said...

Chris, I am not opposed to the searches, but for the timing thing, just for the times square station that is the cross roads of the world when it comes to the NY subway, there are 6 points of entry I can thin of off the top of my head (that would be the most logical starting point for any attack). If there are cops at one entry, it is very easy just to go to another one. Or, get on up in the Bronx and take the subway into times square and then disperse from there. Just having a minor knowledge of the system would defeat searches (since there are not enough cops to man off stops).

NY Girl, the $10,000 question is where does reasonable end and unreasonable begin. I think the searches are reasonable.

Carl said...


I've left a brief comment here.

Carl said...

And a further reply.