Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


WCUDebate last won the day on June 13 2008

WCUDebate had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

422 Excellent

About WCUDebate

  • Rank
    Semi-Pro Problematizer
  • Birthday January 18

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
  1. You must really be barking for a fight if you're going to smear Brett as an authoritarian. I may not agree with the views he's expressed on this thread, but Brett is someone whose perspective on the balance between liberty and authority I respect. The fact that you find someone a bit too willing to side with police in a nuanced case like this doesn't give you cause to label them a fascist. Try taking in a little context and perspective on someone's broader views before leaping to conclusions.
  2. My research seems to reveal that the incorporation on the states has so far only required states to provide jury trials for felony cases and other crimes punishable by more than six months' imprisonment. And when it comes to offenses where the penalty is only a fine, many states do not guarantee the right to a jury trial. That being said, I'm not disagreeing with you when you write that it "is clearly subject to a jury trial by constitutional standards." But let's face the fact that Supreme Court precedent doesn't always adhere to those standards. Well, it's probably impossible to come up with objective standards that everyone can live with. Heck, objective standards could arguably be more rife for abuse than the Golden Rule. You see that sort of nonsense with noise regulations, where police can cite individuals even if they're not bothering their neighbors -- merely because of some arbitrary decibel level. I think a good way to reform Disorderly Conduct statutes is to require some sort of victim/complainant, and notice. The "tree falling in the woods" standard should apply. If no one's rights are violated -- if their peace hasn't been disturbed -- then the conduct isn't really disorderly. If you're being a loud obnoxious prick and waking people up, or interfering with their ability to go about their business, they can complain. Police (or perhaps even the complainant) can give the perpetrator notice that their conduct is offensive. Even with all that, reasonability still plays a role (and that's why having a jury, to hash out community standards, is more desirable than a judge). And, of course, even if there's no criminal conduct "victims" can still utilize civil courts. If we use that sort of standard, someone in Gates' position should never be arrested. Merely hearing objectionable speech, arguably even loud objectionable speech, isn't disorderly conduct if the "victim" is free to leave. Perhaps if Gates kept up his antics for 10 minutes, waking his neighbors' napping infants, there'd be legitimate cause for a charge. But as I've mentioned before, yelling at a cop as he walks away in the early afternoon isn't materially different from blaring your horn to let your date or carpool buddy know that you're waiting outside.
  3. As innocuous as that sounds, it's very disturbing. Are you OK with laws that are rife for abuse simply because 12 registered voters not adequately crafty to avoid jury duty can consistently sort through the BS? I'm not. And I really like the right to a jury trial. But guess what, (according to The Supremes) we're not automatically entitled to a jury trial in a disorderly conduct case (unless the statute allows for imprisonment for more than six months).
  4. I'm with you on that. "Amok" might be a bit strong of a word. As I've said before, most of what Crowley did was good police work. And the arrest itself -- arresting a person who angrily yells at a cop in view of others -- isn't all that unusual (despite how much it offends me). So I wouldn't characterize it as "amok." But that doesn't change the fact that it's unacceptable or that it is representative of a police culture where "contempt of cop" is a crime. I'd say that there are circumstances where people could be (and often are) charged with disorderly conduct and they certainly deserved to be arrested. But I think other statutes can deal with those areas. Disorderly conduct gives far too much discretion for police to arrest those who rub them the wrong way while engaged in constitutionally protected behavior. I'm merely pointing out that the encounter was a "consensual contact." I'm not suggesting that Crowley would be doing effective police work if he just ignored the situation when he arrived by determining "I don't have probable cause for an arrest or detention," if that's what you're suggesting. As has been covered, this is an extreme distortion. Being inside a private residence doesn't allow you to claim unlimited "sanctuary." It's not like being on a base in freeze tag or something. First off, in most cases where police respond to a burglary call, they'll have probable cause, exigent circumstances, or reasonable suspicion. Obviously, meeting these thresholds depends on circumstances. A burglar alarm going off, signs of violence or a struggle, a neighbor calling 911 to report someone who isn't the resident breaking in or a person with burglary tools, etc., all would permit police to engage in nonconsensual contact with those inside. Some of them would even permit police to enter (forcibly if necessary). Simply yelling "I live there, go away" doesn't cut it when there is sufficient evidence. It just so happens that "it looked like someone was trying to wedge the door open" doesn't meet any of those thresholds. Heck, even in the police report Crowley writes that he believed it was the resident. He's conceding that he doesn't even have reasonable suspicion, by definition, at that point. There's a whole realm of options between a situation where police have the power to detain someone (forcing them to cooperate with police), and a situation where they have to pack up and leave. Even if a cop just has a "hunch" he can call in backup and continue to investigate (run license plates, look into the background of the resident(s), talk to neighbors, etc.). If anyone leaves the house and doesn't match the information you have on the resident(s) or behaves suspiciously, cops can detain him to investigate further. You're missing a key element here. As of right now, a police officer can't "rule out" that I'm the resident of my apartment. Does he have a right to pound on my door at 3 a.m. until I satisfy his curiosity? Of course not, unless he has adequate legal suspicions that need to be dispelled. A certain threshold has to be met before an officer has a right to dispel those suspicions with a nonconsensual encounter. The lynchpin here is the suspicion (or lack thereof, more accurately) Crowley had. Whalen calling 911 with a vague "possible break-in" claim that Crowley didn't even discuss with her (by all accounts except Crowley's report, Whalen's conversation with Crowley prior to the arrest was merely to confirm that she was the caller and did not include discussion of what she saw), is clearly not enough for a nonconsensual encounter. Anyone who would like to put forth a legal argument that is was enough, is free to do so. Agreed. We can find plenty of examples of people who weren't huge pricks who were arrested/detained for far less by far more obnoxious cops. But they don't get loads of media coverage or get to have beer with the president. TMI My favorite is when someone is arrested on the sole charge of "resisting arrest." There's a headscratcher that makes the conception of John Connor seem plausible.
  5. As I mentioned earlier, cops have plenty of leeway to investigate. And individuals have rights they can invoke, too. If Gates is not being detained (and adequate evidence to detain him was not present), he doesn't have to cooperate. Think of it this way: a person calls up to say they saw a "blue car" being stolen downtown. Police proceed to pull over every blue car they can to give them the opportunity to check the drivers' licenses against their registration cards. 99% of the drivers detained (when the loud siren and big lights are on, you're not free to go) will have done nothing wrong. All that exists is nebulous information that the car they're driving may be stolen. These are unlawful detentions. All that existed in the Gates case was nebulous information that a crime may have taken place. There was nothing concrete. Heck, information that has come out since then suggests that the caller and/or Whalen explicitly told the police that "it could be the resident," as if that's not self evident. There are only three types of police contact: consensual, detention, and arrest. This was a consensual contact. Gates has the right to be a prick and not cooperate. Sure, the best way to resolve this type of contact is to appreciate that the police are trying to keep your neighborhood safe, and work with them. If you're suggesting that police should have the power to treat this type of contact as "detention," I implore you to think about how that would affect similar cases. Allowing police to detain people without clear, articulable, individualized suspicion is an invitation to casting an overbroad net, racial profiling, police harassment, citizens using the police to harass enemies, and other things even I can't imagine off the cuff.
  6. Post 23 was in response to Brorlob, not you. That was pretty clear. I'm done humoring you. Go on and misapply Hiibel all you want. Hell, cite Bart v. The Space Mutants if you want.
  7. OK, on to the king of distortion (both of court decisions and the views of those with whom he disagrees). I'm going to point out his reckless exaggeration of a court case (be it intentional or accidental), then bow out of this debate since his antics are proving him unworthy of civil discussion. Hiibel is neither relevant nor controlling in this instance. Did you even review Hiibel? Hiibel deals with stop-and-identify statutes. Sure, the court found that there must be reasonable suspicion to compel a person to identify himself. But there's no federal law involved; Hiibel only applies to state stop-and-identify laws, and lo and behold, Massachusetts has no such law. Moreover, neither Hiibel nor stop-and-identify statutes have anything to do with burglary, individuals on private property, or "witnesses." You've cited Hiibel in such a way as to imply to those reading that it applies to these sorts of situations. Your (flawed) opinion that a citizen report of a possible break-in "creates reasonable suspicion" (emphasis in original) is presented as if it's the finding of the court in Hiibel, when really it's pure conjecture. Even if Massachusetts had such a statute, they (and their relevant "case law" you're attempting to cite) deal with people stopped by police in public places, not people contacted by police in their own homes. Well, would you lookie here. The stop-and-identify statute Hiibel actually deals with (Nevada's), only empowers peace officers to "ascertain [the individual's] identity and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his presence abroad" (emphasis added). Finally, you ignore the basic elements of "reasonable suspicion" in favor of making us think that courts have held that a citizen reporting suspicious activity reaches the legal threshold for detaining (that's what takes place in a stop-and-identify, Terry/Hiibel situation: detention) a suspect. Even if any of this were relevant (which it's not), for reasonable suspicion to apply thre would need to be "articulable facts and inferences" that a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity. And by the way, that doesn't empower police to compel the cooperation of witnesses. So, for the rest of the class, let's review what you did here. You took a court case that deals with state laws that don't apply in this case (as Massachusetts lacks such a law), has nothing to do with police contacts with individuals in their homes, presented it in an intellectually dishonest way to imply that the case applied to similar situations and specifically established a concerned citizen's report as "reasonable suspicion," and tacked on superfluous caveats that don't apply to anything (that cops can use reasonable suspicion to compel non-suspects to provide information). This is like saying that someone who dislikes the designated hitter "doesn't understand how the game works." It's rude, short-sighted, and intellectually dishonest of you. I'm more than entitled to the opinion (which is more commonly held than you realize, apparently), that concepts like stare decisis, the Marshall-created construct of "judicial review," and the overall way "our system works" are largely illegitimate. The Constitution doesn't empower the Supreme Court (or any other court) to invalidate laws. It doesn't mandate that lower courts cowtow to higher ones. It certainly does not empower the courts to make "law." Yet the cult of the judiciary has claimed all these powers. I merely expressed an opinion that the notion of "case law" was created by the judiciary and represents an exaggeration of their rightful power within our system. Your retort consisted of manipulating my statement of what should be into a description of what is, and then rudely attacking my understanding of the American political system. Screw you. Aaaaaaaaand...with that, we're done, you sniveling little shit. You've crossed a line.
  8. And 'round and 'round we go. Two problems with this take: The whole "this happened in public and the disorderly conduct arrest is legitimate" is wrong on two levels. First, it ignores the fact that an officer continued to investigate (and instigate, however politely and regardless of his pure intentions) -- against the expressed wishes of the resident. Gates is under no obligation to cooperate with Crowley. There was no "report of a crime in progress" (despite Crowley's notes on his police report). As I've said before: no exigent circumstances, no warrant, no first-hand witnessing of a crime in progress. As soon as Gates tells Crowley to buzz off, he's got to go. The mere fact that a neighbor calls the police and says "there might be a break-in in progress" doesn't give police the latitude to compel Gates' cooperation. There hasn't been much refutation on this point. There have been "that's good police work" arguments (with which I agree), and there have been a few, indirect (and incorrect) "you can't just ignore the police" arguments on the other thread. Second, even if we ignore Crowley's lack of legitimate authority to prolong the encounter with Gates, there's the problem with the eventual disorderly conduct arrest. While I don't have a layout of the property (nor do we have an unbiased account of how long the arguably public comments lasted), this hardly seems like an unreasonable public event that infringed upon anyone's right of assembly. An individual upset over a police encounter who, in his mind has not gotten the information from the officer which he requires, arguably follows that officer out his front door. He stands on his porch and yells as the officer walks away. He is on his property, barely outside his front door, at 12:something in the afternoon. And let's not forget, it was Crowley who "took it outside." He continued a police encounter with an unwilling and uncooperative citizen -- on the citizen's property -- longer than he was legally entitled to. And when he decided he didn't want to continue the encounter, rather than satisfy the upset individual's request for information, he manipulated the situation to place himself in a better position to retaliate against the citizen by using the color of law. Let's put it this way, if Gates never set foot outside his front door (and the rest of the facts were identical), would there be any grounds to arrest him for disorderly conduct? No one's freedom to assemble or move about on their way was infringed upon. Was anyone down the block so disturbed by the ruckus that it woke them from their slumber, and they phoned in a noise complaint? I doubt it. The only person whose rights were violated is Gates. He has a first amendment right to criticize an officer with whom he disagrees. If a momentary increase in noise level such as this, just after noon, constitutes disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, I want my neighbors arrested. I'm sick of them honking their horns to let people inside know they're ready to pick them up. It infringes upon my peaceful slumber (hey, I'm often nocturnal) and it's damn disorderly. As I said from the beginning, this isn't about race. It's not about a citizen who, under the definition of any legitimate statute, infringed upon anyone's peace or rights. It's about contempt of cop.
  9. So, in other words, I'm supposed to do legal research for you? This isn't about disagreeing with a statute. I don't even know the wording of the Massachusetts statute. If you want to look it up and add to the discussion, go for it. Don't expect me to do your legwork and then snidely take a jab at me when I opt not to. 99.9% of the time in a situation like this, the person in Gates' situation is more cooperative and less combative. Of the remainder, in 80% of the cases the cop probably has the sense to walk away a little sooner (or at least not whip out the cuffs and arrest the man on his own property). And of the minuscule remainder of cases where the perfect storm of citizen rudeness and officer contempt for rights combine, how often does the prosecutor think they've got any semblance of a case to proceed with? And there's even a step beyond that before we get any so-called "case law" (which is a judicially-created exaggeration of their powers, and is nothing more than non-binding historical precedent). The case would have to get to a court of record (usually appellate level in most states), and only then would we have any possibility of examining judicial precedent. All that for a misdemeanor. The bottom line is this: ignore the lies in the police report (I can find at least one in the summary paragraph alone). View the facts in the light most favorable to Crowley (believe his version of events). Crowley is investigating the a possible break-in. He doesn't even have a witness who is definitively stating that there is any crime taking place, or even that the individuals involved aren't the residents. He has no search or arrest warrant. He's heard of no exigent circumstances. Still, he does quality police work by investigating for the safety of the residents. As he walks up to the property, he observes no evidence of a crime in progress, and sees no exigent circumstances. His efforts to investigate are met with vehement resistance and he is told that he is not welcome on the property (when he asks Gates to come outside he says "No I will not" and when he asks for additional information about who's inside Gates replies that it's none of his business). At that point the encounter should end. He has no warrant, no probable cause -- he doesn't even have the lower threshold of reasonable suspicion, which probably doesn't apply in this case anyway -- and no power to compel Gates to cooperate. This doesn't mean Crowley, or an officer in a similar situation, closes the book on the situation. He's free to investigate further. For instance, he could remain at the scene and radio in for more information on home. He could easily find out who the resident is. Heck, with police technology what it is these days, how long would it take before an image of Gates driver's license photo or state-issued I.D. pops up on the monitor in his cruiser? While he's there, he can observe for suspicious activity that might warrant further contact with Gates (suspicious noises, etc.). There was supposedly a break-in, right? Walk around outside and look for signs of one. Run the plates of the cars parked out front. There are many things a good police officer can do to continue investigating for the safety of those involved, without escalating an encounter with a citizen who has every right to tell you to "buzz off." I think you're extending my concept beyond its bounds. If an officer has legitimate contact with a suspect (e.g. a traffic stop where he observes you running a stop sign, which constitutes probable cause for the stop and entitles him to certain information), one can't simply "chase cops away with accusations of racism" or insult them to the point of obstructing their duties. Heck, they don't even need probable cause anymore to compel you to produce certain information, or to pat you down for their safety (a Terry frisk). They merely need you to be in public and to have reasonable suspicion. The bar is pretty low. And in those situations, you can't behave as Gates did. This is only partly about how you're allowed to act to an officer (if you choose to be a horse's ass). The other aspects of the equation are the fact that you're not in public and that you're not under legal suspicion. Most police contacts with individuals do not meet all those elements.
  10. First off, let me reiterate that, after looking at the various accounts, it's pretty evident that Gates was being a prick. If you want to psychoanalyze him and speculate that he wanted to be arrested to make a stink, go ahead. My impression of him is that he's either a giant ass or a guy who was having a helluva bad day and snapped. That being said, none of that is really relevant to the legal issues of the arrest. ----- Brorlob brings up the argument that police need latitude in investigating crimes. Fair enough. A large part of police work involves treading into territory (literally and figuratively) that officers are not entitled to tread. But certainly, officers of the state are not prohibited from treading beyond where they're entitled (i.e. if they receive the cooperation of citizens) We are not required to answer many of the questions we are asked at a traffic stop. Many of us choose to do so to expedite the encounter. Some choose to respectfully decline to answer (which, no matter how polite they are, can rub an aggressive cop the wrong way, to be sure). Others choose to act like pricks and rant on (often inaccurately) about how an officer has no right to ask such a question or that the officer is a racist/sexist/fascist/ManBearPig. I want good community police to investigate suspicious situations where real crimes could be taking place. Sure, Crowley isn't entitled to enter Gates' home in this case. But he asks for the citizen's cooperation in investigating the matter and resolving it quickly. Whether or not he's entitled to see Gates' identification (versus requesting his voluntary cooperation) is a stickier matter (I'd lean towards arguing that Gates has a right to refuse the request in his own home, regardless of a neighbor reporting suspicion of a break-in). As I said before, 95% of what Crowley did was good police work. If there's a suspicion of a break-in at my place called in, I'd like an officer to knock on the door and check it out, even though he's not entitled to come in and give me the third degree if I'm not in the mood. I'd like to think that each of us, no matter how we feel about this incident or what we view as the legitimate exercise of police power, would be far more civil in our dealings with an officer doing his job under this situation. But the troubling thing about Brorlob's choice of words is reliance on "deference" and the "ability to interfere in our lives." Obviously, there must be limits. Granting too much discretion to police officers, who are human beings (some of whom are all too happy that they have special powers the rest of us lack), opens the door to abuse. I think that's what happened here. A cop did a good job for the lion's share of the encounter, and then felt he was allowed to arrest a man for criticizing him from his own property. I'd just also like to point out the silliness of one thing you wrote: "The argument in favor of being able to say anything you want to a cop in any instance (short of lying/obstruction of justice) is a truly anarchistic one." An anarchistic approach would be to argue that there should be no police. Just sayin.' :-) P.S. Johnny Cochran is dead. ----- Laws like disorderly conduct, if they have any per se legitimate purpose (that's up for debate), must be balanced against basic constitutional protections of free speech, assembly, and property rights. Even the 14th Amendment comes into play. Courts strike down D.O. charges all the time, because often they're just a pretext for arresting someone who's nebulously behaving as a nuisance. While courts haven't found D.O. statutes to be per se unconstitutional, they frequently find the application of them to be unconstitutional when such application violates the provisions I've mentioned. I'm a bit too busy to search for examples where police "trick" people into coming outside (where they can be more justifiably arrested for D.O.). There may be concrete court cases on this, or it may be that there isn't much on point (but that officers know D.O. arrests made inside a person's home, where there is no complainant and no warrant, are unconstitutional arrests). You have to look at the statute and its intent. The statutes vary from state to state, but here's Indiana's (courtesy of Wikipedia): "A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally: (1) engages in fighting or in tumultuous conduct; (2) makes unreasonable noise and continues to do so after being asked to stop; or (3) disrupts a lawful assembly of persons;" If you're being a jerk in your own home, you aren't disrupting a lawful assembly or fighting. "Tumultuous conduct" is extremely vague (and nearly impossible to sustain in court if a defendant aggressively disputes the charges) and even an iron-fisted judge would be hard-pressed to classify rudeness to an officer (particularly one who is not entitled to entry and has been told that he's not welcome) as such. Unreasonable noise? Obviously, that's subjective. Who's the complainant? If it's just a cop who's unhappy with being yelled at, he's free to leave. At that point, I have a hard time deeming noise as "unreasonable" enough to justify an arrest if no one is obliged to stand there and be subjected to it. I can see legitimate applications of the D.O. statutes that might involve one's own property (though I'd argue that more narrowly-tailored ones would do the trick just as well). If someone is having a loud party late at night and refuses to reduce the noise to a reasonable level that won't overly disturb neighbors, sure, there's some sort of offense being committed. But ultimately, one has to balance any such legitimate uses of the statute against our more inherent rights. You have a right to criticize an officer. As the officer is leaving Gates property, he's not being physically restrained or interfered with in any meaningful way. No one else's assembly rights are being infringed upon (the fact that some may had gathered to investigate the police presence is irrelevant). A brief moment of criticism from an old man's porch, in the early afternoon, directed at a police officer who is leaving the scene, is protected speech. Had Gates' criticism been so loud and lasting in duration that it woke the neighbors at 2 a.m., perhaps there's a legitimate cause for arrest.
  11. You're right. I'm not suggesting the racial aspect is irrelevant here. I don't know if it came into play or not. We'll never know, objectively, what happened. And we'll certainly never know the thought processes involved. My point is that the New York Times should have cared. Sure, Gates may have been a jerk and it almost certainly factored into Crowley's decision to arrest him. But the bigger question, the one that should be receiving more attention, is why a police officer can simply arrest someone at their own home, merely because that individual voiced displeasure with the officer who was free to leave the scene of a then-debunked "possible" crime. Did Gates interfere with the free assembly of anyone? Sure, Crowley threw the word "tumultuous" into the police report to justify the arrest, but did he cause general "tumult" or disturb the police with a few moments of criticism spouted from his porch area in the afternoon? If I'm playing a pick up game of basketball and shout disapprovingly at an opponent for 30 seconds in response to a hard foul, and it causes people passing by to take notice and choose to rubberneck, am I engaging in disorderly conduct? Would I be arrested? Make no mistake about it. This was contempt of cop. Whether or not racism played a factor will be difficult to determine, but the offensiveness of the officer's abuse of power is plainly evident. Cops need a warrant, or need to have personally witnessed a crime, to arrest you for almost every offense. Crowley was not entitled to enter the home merely because someone called in a possible break-in (heck, according to the information out there there caller and the actual witness were rather up-front about the possibility that it could just be the resident). He's allowed to attempt to investigate (a good cop should), but if Gates just snarls "I live here, beat it" and slams the door in his face, he has little recourse unless he personally observes evidence that there's a crime being committed. Gates almost certainly fueled this situation with his attitude, and 95% of what Crowley did is consistent with good community policing. But 95% isn't good enough for me. He has to turn the other cheek there and walk away once the underlying investigation evaporates. I don't want a cop who, merely 5% of the time, disrespects the constitutional rights of the citizens who pay his salary.
  12. When it comes to the speculation as to the racial motives of Sgt. Crowley and Prof. Gates, enough is enough. From the get-go, people have been overanalyzing a situation about which we will never get enough information to develop an informed opinion. Great, we now have police reports and a 911 recording. What actually transpired in the home will always come down to conflicting stories from those involved. And what racism or oppression complexes do or do not exist in the hearts of those involved is impossible to determine. Rather engaging in an irresolvable debate of hypotheticals, we shouldn't ignore a controversy that is evident no matter which version of the story you choose to believe: Sgt. Crowley violated Prof. Gates' constitutional rights with an unlawful arrest. The facts: 1. Sgt. Crowley did not have an arrest warrant for Prof. Gates. 2. Nor did Crowley witness the (potential) underlying crime. 3. While there are narrow exceptions (certain offenses) where an officer can lawfully arrest someone without a warrant for a crime they did not witness, this is not one of those exceptions. 4. Disorderly conduct, the catch-all offense for unruly behavior, is a troubling concept that is often abused by law enforcement and restricted by the courts. One element of the concept is beyond dispute: one cannot commit disorderly conduct in one's own home, even if one is disrespectful or rude. 5. Rude and insulting behavior directed at a police officer attempting to do his/her duty is not appropriate, but it is not illegal. While harassing a police officer in public, in such a way as to obstruct police business or interfere with the rights of others can rise to the level of Disorderly Conduct (or other offenses), rudeness directed at a police officer in one's own home is not a crime. I think it's safe to infer from the available facts (including Crowley's own police report) that Gates was arrested for Contempt of Cop. One can make an argument, if we believe Crowley's version of events completely, that an agitated Gates "yelled" at Crowley (who had left the home, walked off the porch, and down the stairs to the sidewalk) from outside his own front door (on his porch). The argument that this brief confrontation, just after noon, constitutes tumultuous public behavior that interferes with the rights of other citizens is absolutely ludicrous. Looking at all the evidence, Gates was probably out of line. He should be ashamed. Maybe he was having a rough day and he snapped. It's irrelevant. Crowley acknowledges that he had reason to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence. He saw no evidence of a crime and had no warrant. And it was made clear to him that he was not welcome. Instead of leaving the premises at this point, he persisted. While he was not necessarily violating Gates' rights by continuing to investigate, and while it's not immediately clear that he was asked to leave Gates' property, Gates is under no further obligation to cooperate with him. More significantly, even if we are to believe Crowley's report, the alleged "disorderly conduct" consisted of Gates continuing to voice his displeasure with Crowley as he walked off Gates' property. How long does it take to walk down the stairs, get in one's squad car, and leave to dissipate the situation? The charge of disorderly conduct, like many elements of police work, involves discretion exercised by professionals. An officer feeling insulted, disrespected, or unappreciated -- even when he feels his motives are pure -- crosses the line when he allows those feelings to affect his judgment. Typical police tricks (like asking a disrespectful person to step outside their home, where they can arguably be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct) don't represent discretion. They represent abuses of discretion. Even under the set of facts most favorable to Crowley, and then under the unsupportable theory that a moment of loud disapproval of a continued police presence, in the middle of the day and from one's own property, an officer exercising discretion should walk away. Whether Gates was a prick (or how much of a prick he was) and whether Crowley was motivated by race, we may never know. But whether Crowley had the right to arrest Gates is a question that can be easily answered: no.
  13. Approximate transcript of every Anderson Cooper show from the past two weeks: Hilariously, Fox News this morning was whining about how Bill Maher called Americans "stupid." If we get a clear picture on what happened, and people want to discuss this event, fine. But I'm not wading ankle deep into speculative irrelevancy.
  14. Just a footnote. This whole "does the WPA expand or limit presidential power" question is pretty tangential. Heck, it's a tangent of a tangent. The question of whether or not we're at war is only a small part of this thread. I allowed myself to be trolled into this tangent a bit. If anyone really wants to delve into the WPA, it should probably be a different thread.
  15. Here we go again. You're good at manipulating facts and words. You should try debate. I find it offensive that you're characterizing something as a "contemporary equivalent of a WPC declaration." Basically, you're talking about a "contemporary equivalent" to obeying the Constitution. Furthermore, you go on to bastardize the argument by characterizing such an "equivalent" as a "formal decision by Congress that the President is permitted to use military force in war." See my response to your next whopper. Gee, here I go trying to acknowledge salient arguments on both sides, but apparently that's a non-starter. But let's have a little alphabet lesson. What letter does "War" start with? And is that letter A, U, M, or F? We've been down this road before. If you feel that all military force = war, fine. I don't agree. There are damn good arguments, including some made in this thread, that military action does not automatically constitute a state of war, especially if we're talking about a legal definition of war. I'm not saying it's "silly" to argue that an AUMF = war. I'm acknowledging the complexity of the issue. But go ahead and say that Congress "clearly" passed something that's not on-point to the issue at hand. You're proving quite adept at nonresponsive argumentation. Go ahead and distort my position (although I'm pretty sure the "DUR DUR DUR" is an accurate quote). I'm not clinging to an absolutist position of "no declaration = no legal state of war." I do acknowledge there are some who make that argument, and I think the term "Vietnam Conflict" is more accurate than "Vietnam War," but don't paint me in a corner here. Well, that settles it. You called them "wars" so they're wars. You're absolutely right. Every war we've fought since the last time we fought a war has been a war. Thanks for clearing that up. Yeah, I clearly have no background in U.S. foreign policy, international relations, etc. You're distorting my words, which is easy to do when you cherry pick and highlight a sentence. My point was that the president (It's lower case, by the way, unless you're placing it in front of a person's name as a title. You're plainly wrong and this demonstrates a near total lack of understanding of the U.S. government.[Yes, I am aware that I capitalized it, too. Relax.]) does not generally need prior approval, under the WPA, to utilize military force. He doesn't even need to notify Congress in advance. He can do so after the fact. If the branch of government responsible for declaring war doesn't even have to be told in advance about military action, and the WPA was passed with the intent of limiting, not expanding, the executive's power, a pretty good case can be made that military action does not equal a legal state of war under U.S. law. Unable? Ha! Considering that every president since Nixon has disputed the constitutionality of the WPA, I laugh at that notion. Hell, presidents submit reports "consistent with" (instead of "pursuant to") the WPA because they reject its legitimacy. Did Clinton have congressional approval to launch cruise missile strikes at suspected weapons plants in Africa? Were we suddenly at war? Quit being an ass. That's my job. Seriously? Are you unable to discover the "secret" individuals who dispute the constitutionality of the WPA? Gee, that answers that riddle. OK, so you've read a little about it. Good for you. "Wah wah wah you're an idiot." Same song, different verse. Presidents object to the restrictions placed on them by the WPA. Many, like myself, feel the WPA is also a congressional concession that the president has the power to push us to the brink of war. G.H.W. Bush pushed us into the first Gulf War without prior congressional approval (an AUMF was narrowly passed five months after Bush committed us to Operation Desert Shield). Presidents arguably have the power as Commander in Chief to commit us to hostilities that are short of war, and the WPA arguably codifies that (especially when combined by vague federal laws authorizing the president to strike at terrorists, etc.) by giving explicit periods of time for the president to utilize the military, possibly in contravention to the wishes of Congress and the nation. The hypothetical I stated previously about Iran is just one possibility. More realistic is the chance that a president could strike terrorists elements in nations like Pakistan, violating their sovereignty and risking open war. Heck, the post-9/11 AUMF permits the president to go after al Qaeda and its affiliates. If a warmongering president grew sick of a nation's foot-dragging when it comes to anti-terror operations, he could use the authority granted to him under that AUMF to start a war in any number of countries. In such a circumstance, the WPA could conceivably benefit the president, by merely requiring him to "report" to Congress after the fact and "consult" with them (how vague is THAT!?). A nation vehemently opposed to a war with the ruling junta of a foreign nation could find itself ankles-deep in one, as a president engages in 60 days of military operations and then plays the "we can't cut and run" card to try to arm-twist Congress into authorizing further hostilities. Certainly, you can make the case a president operating without a WPA would be just as powerful. But in a world where we have so many vaguely defined "enemies," the unintended consequence of setting boundaries to presidential power is that you tacitly concede the president's right to walk right up to those boundaries against your wishes.
  • Create New...