Sonia Sotomayor and the Drug War Exemption to the Bill of Rights

During the last 40 years of the drug war, America’s three branches of government have sought and attained what many have called the Drug War Exemption to the Bill of Rights. Seemingly, the executive, legislative and judicial branches fought over themselves to be tough in the War on Drugs, at the expense of the Constitution, especially the Bill Of Rights. The hysteria has, in just one generation, transformed “the land of the free” into the nation imprisoning the most people in cages.

  • To restore America’s constitutional values, the country desperately needs fresh thinking at the Supreme Court. Big government right wingers Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have been joined by new neocons John Roberts and Sam Alito. Their decisions uniformly expand the role of the state, especially the executive, favor prosecution and incarceration while reducing the rights of the accused.

As a former drug war prosecutor, Sonia Sotomayor lacks this needed perspective. No ex-prosecutor should ever become a judge, much less supreme court justice. Prosecutors build their careers in good part on how much prison time is sentenced to those they prosecute. The war on drugs, with its “enhanced” sentencing and mandatory minimums, has been very, very good for the careers of prosecutors. Perhaps only urine tested have benefited more.

  • Proof of Sotomayor’s inability to tackle the festering mandatory minimum sentences congress rushed to impose during the height of the drug war is her support from Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. This ex-US Attorney is tragically perched high in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Interviewed by PBS Frontline for Snitch, Sessions reveils himself to be a rabid drug war hardliner. Like most in his party of small government, he is chiefly concerned in increasing the scope of government through intensive prosecutions and mandatory minimums.

As reported by Sam Stein, in 1997 Jeff Sessions grilled Sotomayor on the occasion of her appointment as United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Of mandatory minimums, she testified to him, “I have no idea how the judges before me ever set a consistent standard by which to sentence individuals. The guidelines do provide that framework in a very helpful way.” Even so, Sessions voted against her appointment. Now he supports her Supreme court appointment. Be afraid, very afraid. Ex-prosecutor current Session’s satisfaction that ex-prosecutor Sotomayor will tow the line on mandatory minimums indicate that no voice of change will be heard on this crucial moral and practical issue.

  • Strict drug war sentencing and imprisonment are among many other evils of the war on drugs. The savaging of the Bill of Rights with drug war exemptions in the areas of personal privacy, search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment and mass incarceration are huge failures of American ideals.

America needs its Constitution back. We need repeal of the Drug War Exemptions to the Bill of Rights. Ex-prosecutor Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court would likely do nothing to help.

Lecture China on human rights? The USA, “incarceration nation”, holds no high moral ground.

With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in China, human rights groups are upset that she is not taking China to task for human rights violations. But if freedom from being unnecessarily caged is a human right, then the USA holds no high moral ground to be lecturing any country. For the USA imprisons its citizens at an astoundingly high rate, far higher than any other government on earth. Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project outlined in 2006 how the USA is the “Incarceration Nation.”

The USA incarcerates 2.3 million prisoners at a (2006) rate of 738 per 100,000. For China, the rate is 118 prisoners per 100,000 people less than one sixth the rate in “the land of the free.” No other country comes close to the American rate of incarceration. Turkmenistan comes in at 489, Cuba 487. Over 61% of countries imprisoned at a rate of less than 150 per 100,000 roughly 1/5th the rate in the USA. For more detail see the King’s College of London World Prison Population List (7th ed.) by Roy Walmsley.

Even though China’s is home to over a billion more people than the USA, it total prison population is far lower. Still, Chinese prison population it is second highest in the world, with over one and a half million caged prisoners. China does indeed have egregious human rights violations, some of the worst involve police executioners pumping bullets into the back of the heads of people, sometimes for mere drug possession.

Young Chinese woman prepared for death on UN Anti-Drug Day

Young Chinese woman prepared for death on UN Anti-Drug Day

This is done in a public and festive manner on the United Nations Anti-Drug day in July. In the USA, barbarity towards those convicted of drug crimes is not in public executions. American “justice” is in burial alive in concrete and metal cells for decades, for “crimes” that were trivial before draconian War on Drugs laws.

So before lecturing the Chinese about human rights, Hilary, think about hundreds of thousands of Americans arrested and imprisoned for what should not be crimes during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Free those human rights prisoners first.