Michael Schaus

Someone should buy Mayor Bloomberg a copy of the first Ten Amendments to the US Constitution, because it’s fairly clear he’s a little fuzzy on a couple of the details.  A Federal Judge ruled yesterday that New York’s infamous “Stop and Frisk” policy is unconstitutional, as it doesn’t occur with any reasonable suspicion or demonstrable probable cause. But, why let those little details get in the way of randomly searching the citizens of an American city? After all, the Federal government has been doing it to businesses for much of the last decade.

The New York Times ironically reported that Bloomberg angrily accused the judge of deliberately denying the city “a fair trial” and said the city would file an appeal. It’s only ironic because his sentiments most likely mirror those of subway passengers who were randomly selected for a frisk. The Mayor then went on to note that nothing would change, procedurally, with his “Stop and Frisk” policies; citing the procedure as one of the main reasons for New York’s recent reduction in crime. No-one, not even the notoriously liberal New York Times (who has routinely condemned the practice on racial grounds), bothered to mention that results are not the litmus test for constitutionality.

The stop and frisk tactics, however, are not limited to a Mayor who has declared war on gun ownership, high-capacity sodas, and trans-fats. Recently the IRS “admitted” to sending out threatening letters to small business owners, alleging that they had under reported their cash earnings. The letters, which were not an official declaration of investigation, explained that the IRS had reason to believe the small businesses’ low amount of cash sales indicated there was likely under reporting – and thus underpayment – in previous returns. And speaking from personal experience, a letter from the IRS can often feel much like a strip search without a warrant. When it is learned that the IRS was specifically sending these letters to the backbone of the American economy (small businesses) it makes the procedure all the more insulting.

Of course our Federal government has seen a growing disrespect for the constitution on all fronts. Boarding a plane can hardly be considered “probable cause” for a search. Being forced to pay for contraception can hardly be considered freedom of religion. And the government’s insistence on taking over one sixth of the US economy cannot legitimately be declared an example of federalism.

Michael Schaus

Michael Schaus is communications director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute and is responsible for managing the organization’s messaging with the public, the media and NPRI’s membership.

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