Tag Archives: American Civil Liberties Union

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/16/2018: The Integrity Edition

Good Morning!

1. James Comey, Cognitive Dissonance Dunce. The anti-Trump obsessed won’t be able to see it, but rogue ex-FBI director James Comey is doing an immense favor for President Trump and Republicans by single-handedly framing his campaign against the man who, it is increasingly obvious, correctly fired him (as Hillary Clinton would have done even faster) as that of a classic vengeful disgruntled employee and nothing more, or better. Even Time op-ed writer Charles Blow, whose every column since the election has been some paraphrasing of “I hate Donald Trump,” was forced to observe that Comey is an especially dislikable foe (as is Blow himself). The sheer number of loathsome Trump-bashers has a natural Cognitive Dissonance Scale effect that the President’s critics can’t seem to fathom.

Normal, fair-minded people whose natural instinct is to run from the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Ted Lieu, Hillary Clinton, David Hogg, Joy Reid, Bill Maher, James Comey, Robert DeNiro, Alec Baldwin, Stormy Daniels and the rest will find themselves, almost unconsciously, siding with the President rather than this basket of deplorables, because, you see, he is the President, and who wants to be identified with that crew?

In his ABC interview, which successfully marked Comey as Just Another Trump-Deranged Resistance Warrior, he actually said that Trump was “morally unfit” to be President. First of all, it is the electorate, not James Comey, that decides who is morally fit to be President.  Comey’s assessment is no more or less valid than that of anyone else. Second, the statement is ridiculous on its face. If Comey had an interviewer with any knowledge of Presidential character and the history of the office, plus the wit and integrity to expose  an ignorant opinion when one is broadcast coast to coast, he would have been asked..,

Was Thomas Jefferson morally fit to be President? Has Donald Trump kept his wife’s sister as a concubine and slave? Was Andrew Jackson morally fit to be President? Has Donald Trump killed anyone in an illegal duel? Was Grover Cleveland morally fit to be President? Did Donald Trump ever have a woman committed to an institution to silence her about their sexual relationship? Was Woodrow Wilson morally fit to be President? Has Donald Trump endorsed the Klu Klux Klan? Was Franklin Roosevelt morally fit to be President? Has President Trump ordered U.S. citizens into prison camps? Was Richard Nixon morally fit to be President? LBJ? Bill Clinton?

The Presidency is self-defined by its past occupants, and “moral fitness” is not a characteristic that comes to mind when considering what qualities are identified with successful, popular or effective Presidents.

2. Whither the ACLU? Alan Dershowitz has authored a searing attack on the ACLU’s lack of integrity demonstrated by its failing to condemn the Justice Department’s raid on lawyer Michael Cohen’s home and office. He writes in part, Continue reading

42 Comments

Filed under Character, Daily Life, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

Wearing Black Lives Matter Pins In The Courtroom Matters To This Judge

Q: Which of these can a judge ban from a courtroom? A: All of them.

Q: Which of these can a judge ban from a courtroom? A: All of them.

Youngstown (Ohio) Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich ordered NAACP attorney Andrea Burton to remove the Black Lives Matters pin she was wearing. The attorney refused, and was declared in contempt of court.

Good.

She was.

Judge Milich  sentenced the grandstanding lawyer to five days in jail, though the sentence has been stayed while she appeals the decision, as   as long as she obeys Milich’s order not to wear items that make a political statement in court. When she loses her appeal, and she will, she will have to serve the five days in jail.

Milich is on firm ethical and constitutional ground, not that this episode won’t subject him to being called a racist. It is well-established that judges can ban political expressions in the courtroom, and in 1998, the Supreme Court let stand the rulings of a federal district court and the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, in Berner v. Delahanty, that a the judge’s prohibition of political buttons was a reasonable method of “maintaining proper order and decorum” in a courtroom. In that case, the judge prohibited lawyer Seth Berner from wearing  a button saying “No on 1—Maine Won’t Discriminate,” a declaration against an upcoming state referendum.

As long as a judge doesn’t allow one form of political advocacy while banning others, there is no free speech issue. Judges have gotten themselves involved in controversy when they have allowed buttons, as in the 2006 Supreme Court case of Carey v Musladin, in which Court ruled  unanimously that murder trial spectators were free to wear buttons with a picture of the victim in front of the jury that convicted the defendant. The justices agreed with California prosecutors who said the buttons were a harmless expression of grief by family members at Mathew Musladin’s trial.

I really don’t like that decision. A wise judge will avoid the issue by prohibiting any advocacy in court of of any political, social or case-related opinion. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

Privacy, Facebook, And School Abuse of Power

Riley StrattonIt can a bit late to the party, in my view, but the ACLU just delivered a crucial blow to Big Brotherism in the schools. Addressing an issue that Ethics Alarms flagged in 2011, Minnewaska Area Schools (in Minnesota) agreed to pay $70,000 in damages to Riley Stratton, a 15-year-old high school student,

for violating her rights. It also agreed, as part of the federal court settlement, to rewrite its policies to limit how far a school can intrude on the privacy of students by examining e-mails and social media accounts created off school grounds.

In 2012, the ACLU Minnesota Chapter filed a lawsuit against the Minnewaska School District after it suspended Stratton for a Facebook post, written and published outside of school, in her home, in which she expressed hatred for a school hall monitor who she said was “mean.”  After the suspension, Stratton used Facebook to inquire which of her “friends” had blown a whistle on her. School officials brought the young teen into a room with a local sheriff and forced her to surrender her Facebook password. Officials used it to searched her page on the spot; her parents were not consulted.

“A lot of schools, like the folks at Minnewaska, think that just because it’s easier to know what kids are saying off campus through social media somehow means the rules have changed, and you can punish them for what they say off campus,” Minnesota ACLU attorney Wallace Hilke said. “They punished her for doing exactly what kids have done for 100 years — complaining to her friends about teachers and administrators. She wasn’t spreading lies or inciting them to engage in bad behavior, she was just expressing her personal feelings.”

Not that it was any of the school’s business if she was spreading lies or inciting others to bad behavior. This phenomenon, where schools decide that they have a right to punish students for non-school activity, words and thoughts  was discussed on Ethics Alarms, and condemned as unethical, here, here, here, and here, and more recently here.

Minnewaska Superintendent Greg Schmidt protested (the school settled without admitting any wrongdoing) that the school only wants to make sure kids understand that actions outside of school can be “detrimental.” “The school’s intent wasn’t to be mean or bully this student, but to really remedy someone getting off track a little,” Schmidt said. Not your job, you officious, censorious, child abuser. This is the sole realm of parental authority. I have seen enough wretched judgement from your breed, Mr. Schmidt—like (I’m picking examples randomly) here, here, here, here and here—to convince me and anyone with a cerebral cortex that school administrators lack the training, wisdom and judgment to know what “going of track a little” is for a 13-year old.

Stay out of my kids’ life and my family’s life. You have enough trouble running schools properly…work on that.

________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, ACLU, Minnesota Star Tribune

24 Comments

Filed under Education, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights, The Internet

Ethics Hero: The ACLU Jumps Off The Train Wreck…

And not a moment too soon...

And not a moment too soon…

It appeared that the American Civil Liberty Union would continue its descent from its original role of non-partisan Bill of Rights watchdog and defender to its evolving position as a liberal/progressive advocacy group when it called for Eric Holder’s Justice Department to pursue a civil rights prosecution against George Zimmerman. In a post on the group’s website following the verdict, ACLU executive director Anthony Romero wrote…

Today, our thoughts are with Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, whose young son was taken from them far too soon. Last night’s verdict casts serious doubt on whether the legal system truly provides equal protection of the laws to everyone regardless of race or ethnicity.This case reminds us that it is imperative that the Department of Justice thoroughly examine whether the Martin shooting was a federal civil rights violation or hate crime. We call on Attorney General Eric Holder to release strengthened guidance on the use of race in federal law enforcement. We also urge Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. These specific actions would go a long way to ameliorate the widespread problem of racial profiling. We need solutions not only in Trayvon Martin’s case, but also systemic reform. Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

Judge Norman’s Dilemma Becomes The ALCU’s Problem

Cruel and unusual punishment? Guess again…

You’re a judge. You have power, in your sentencing, to make various miscreants suffer all sorts of creative punishments, as long as they fall well short of the rack and wheel. For example, a judge in Cleveland recently sentenced a woman (who had driven her car up the side-walk to get around a stopped school bus carrying special-needs children) to carry a sign proclaiming herself an idiot. You are faced with a troubled young man who appears to have received almost no instruction, in his 17 years, in the particulars of right and wrong. You see no productive purpose in locking him up and throwing away the key, for what he needs is a transfusion of ethics. What do you do?

In the throes of this very dilemma, Oklahoma district judge Mike Norman was sentencing Tyler Alred  for DUI manslaughter. Alred was driving his Chevrolet pickup drunk in  2011 when he hit a tree, ending the life of his passenger and friend, 16-year old John Dum. The judge gave Tyler a deferred prison sentence provided that he attend church every Sunday for the next ten years, as well as graduate from high school and welding school. Both Alred’s attorney and the victim’s family agreed to the terms of the sentence. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Dunce: The ACLU

I suppose they just can’t help themselves, sometimes.

So handsome…and so foolish to mess up with partisan politics.

I support the American Civil Liberties Union because of its mission, and because it is on the correct side of issues more often than not. Still, it is stocked with left-wing ideologues, and too often is blatantly political, which damages its reputation, perceived integrity and effectiveness. Every American should be a supporter of a non-profit organization that stands for individual rights and freedoms as defined by the Constitution. Once such a group aligns itself clearly with one side of the political spectrum, however, this is impossible. At very least, the organization should refrain from partisan political attacks, which raises questions of conflict of interest, fairness, and independent judgment. The ACLU is too important to sully with political bias, but since it is run by people full of it, such taint is inevitable.*

Thus we have the embarrassing “report” by ACLU Liberty Watch. I can’t tell what the affiliation with the ACLU is; I assume that the ACLU approves and oversees an entity that leads with its name. This report attacks Mitt Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, as being “anti-civil liberties,” using the most dubious and extreme rationales to do so. My instant reaction: How can I trust an organization that proudly publishes such slanted trash with such obvious partisan intent to be a dispassionate watchdog on my civil liberties?

The answer: I can’t. Neither can you. Continue reading

39 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

More School Bullying…As In Schools Bullying Students

What the hell kept you?

From an ACLU complaint recently filed in the Northern District of Indiana:

“The plaintiffs in this case are all 14-year-old girls, proceeding by their initials, who were previously enrolled as eighth graders at Griffith Middle School, which is operated by Griffith Public Schools. In late January, they engaged in a lengthy conversation on http:// http://www.facebook.com-through the comments section of one of their personal pages after school from their personal computers. This conversation spanned numerous subjects, from the pain of cutting oneself while shaving to the girls’ friendship, before turning to a discussion of which of their classmates they would kill if they had the chance. At all times, the conversation was purely in jest and could not have been interpreted seriously, as is evidenced by the girls’ repeated use of “emoticons,” by their use of abbreviations indicative of humor, and by the nature and tone of the conversation. The girls were simply engaged in teenage banter.Nonetheless, on January 26, 2012, all three (3) girls were suspended from school for ten (10) days as a result of this conversation, and they were ultimately expelled for the remainder of their eighth grade year. This disciplinary action occurred because they had supposedly violated a provision of the student handbook prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation, even though no statement in the conversation-nor the conversation as a whole–constituted a “true threat.” Additionally, the conversation did not cause any disruption to the educational environment or to school activities, nor was it foreseeable that it would.”

Glory be and Halleluiah! Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Education, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet