Friday, October 21, 2011

BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO KNOW – The United States Senate Edition

Senator Jim Webb (D. Va.) had an idea.  He knew the criminal justice system in this country was a mess.  He just didn’t know all the details.  The idea?
Let’s find out what the details are.
Maybe there’s something we can do about it.  Or maybe not.  But we can’t tell if we remain ignorant.
The Senate said no.  More precisely, 43 members of the Senate said no.  That’s a minority, of course, but since it takes 60 votes to get anything passed in the Senate these days, 43 votes was enough to defeat Webb’s proposal.
Now, I don’t want to be misleading or dishonest here.  The 43 didn’t say it would be better not to know.  They said, instead, that finding out would violate the Constitution.
Huh?  Yep.  It’s state’s rights.  (So was segregation, for those of you with short memories of who lack the gravitas that comes from being old.)  The Constitution, you see, ensures not just that the feds can’t interfere with what the states do.  It also prohibits the feds from finding out.
From David Rogers at Politico.
“We’re absolutely ignoring the U.S. Constitution if you do this,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) in closing. “We have no role unless we’re violating human rights or the U.S. Constitution to involve ourselves in the criminal court system or penal system in my state or any other state…I would urge a no vote against this and honor our Constitution.”
Ignorance as a constitutional virtue.

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