Patterico's Pontifications

5/5/2003

TARANTO V. SHARPTON, ADVANTAGE SHARPTON:

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:20 pm

TARANTO V. SHARPTON, ADVANTAGE SHARPTON: I hate to report that James Taranto, who runs a pretty good blog called Best of the Web at the Wall Street Journal Online, has been shown up by none other than Al Sharpton. Taranto said today that in the recent Democratic debate, “Sharpton was more goofy than demagogic. For example, he complained that there’s no right to vote in the Constitution and said he wanted to establish one. Apparently he’s never heard of Article I, Section 2 or the 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, 24th and 26th amendments.”

Well, James, I have heard of all of these constitutional provisions — and none of them establishes a constitutional right to vote. For example, we commonly speak of the 19th Amendment as giving women the “right to vote,” or the 15th giving slaves the “right to vote” — but we are wrong to do so. The 15th Amendment prevents the Government from depriving citizens of the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The 19th Amendment prevents the Government from depriving citizens of the right to vote “on account of sex.” But nothing in the Constitution prevents the Government from depriving everyone equally of the right to vote. You can read the Constitution as long and hard as you like, but you won’t find a provision anywhere in it that confers upon ordinary citizens something called the “right to vote.”

The Supreme Court pointed this out famously with respect to presidential elections, in a decision you might have heard of called Bush v. Gore. The Court said in that opinion: “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College.” (Emphasis mine.) In other words, if a state legislature chooses to select Electoral College members through a means other than a statewide election, that is fine and dandy with the Federal Constitution.

An interesting discussion of the issue by a Columbia law professor can be found here. The professor is co-author of a constitutional law book with Laurence Tribe. You won’t be surprised to learn that he thinks this is a real problem, one that needs to be fixed with a constitutional amendment.

I still like “Best of the Web,” but Taranto has to eat a little crow here.

DENNIS MILLER ON NORMAN MAILER:

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 am

DENNIS MILLER ON NORMAN MAILER: Well, not literally — calm down, Senator Santorum. This is just a piece in a newspaper. It is for folks who were interested in my post from Wednesday on that truly bizarre opinion piece by Norman Mailer — you know, the one where he said we went to war because white guys suck at sports. Anyway, the Wall Street Journal today has this Dennis Miller rant on that Mailer piece.

It’s classic Miller, filled with lines like this: “And as Mr. Mailer’s prostate gradually supplants his ego as the largest gland in his body, he’s going to have to realize, as is the case with all young lions who inevitably morph into Bert Lahr, that his alleged profundities are now being perceived as the early predictors of dementia.”

BIZARRE: What in the world

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:02 am

BIZARRE: What in the world is a sensible piece like this doing in the Washington Post? The piece is a brilliant analysis of the issues involved in so-called “racial profiling.”

The bottom line is this: “If the rates of stops or arrests for minorities are disproportionate to their share of a population, critics conclude that the police must be singling civilians out on the basis of race, not behavior.” As the writer points out: “Such an analysis would make sense only if lawbreaking were spread evenly across the population. It is not.” So simple, so true, and yet so rare to see in print.

One thing mentioned in the article, but perhaps not emphasized as the chilling (in more ways than one) phenomenon it is: criminalizing racial profiling. Turns out racial profiling has actually been made a felony in New Jersey! Given how quickly people leap to the conclusion that police racially profile, this is simply incredible. If I were a New Jersey cop, I would quit my job the second this law took effect — not because I would be a racial profiler, but because I wouldn’t be.

It’s this simple: minorities are disproportionately lawbreakers (I’m not a racist, folks — this is undeniable fact). Accordingly, even if you do your job in a completely race-neutral way, you will inevitably end up stopping/searching/arresting a disproportionate number of minorities. BINGO! It’s time for your trial on felony charges! Now you get to explain why your statistics look so bad — and the true reason will be: that minorities are disproportionately lawbreakers! Good luck presenting that defense to a jury! You will be convicted in five minutes, and the jurors will walk out of the courtroom shaking their heads at the nerve of you and your defense lawyer.

The piece concludes: “Sept. 11 hijackers Mohamed Atta, Hani Hanjour and Ziad Jarrah were all stopped for speeding in 2001 — Jarrah in Maryland just two days before the attacks. When the next cohort of Islamic terrorists have their inevitable brushes with the police, you can be sure that no matter how nervous or agitated their behavior, under the anti-profiling regime, they’ll be told to get on their way.”


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