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.