It doesn’t seem at all surprising that New York Mayor Bloomberg supports both his unconstitutional anti-Big Gulp paternalism and his now-overruled “Stop and Frisk” police state nastiness. It’s “for our good,” not any wise dedication to principle, that he wants to prevent us from drinking big sugary sodas, and “for the peace” that he wants police to stop and manhandle thousands, millions of “suspicious looking” people.
Both policies clearly impinge on individual liberty. The former, in that it prevents people from peacefully doing what they want. The latter, in that it treats innocent people as guilty, as “suspicious” just because of the way they appear — mainly their clothing choices, age, and (especially) race.
The judicial ruling is, in its own way, inspiring. “The goals of liberty and safety may be in tension, but they can coexist,” Judge Shira Scheindlin writes, adding that “the Constitution mandates it.” The ruling is also something of an education, for the judge notes that it’s not her business to make policing effective. It’s to make policing constitutional. Constitutional limits are necessary to rein in the potential of government to morph into tyranny.
And “stop and frisk” sure seems like tyranny to the people continually harassed on the streets. After all, the judge found that “the stopped population is overwhelmingly innocent, not criminal.” Treating innocent citizens like criminals doesn’t inspire respect for the law.
And it sure is nice to see Bloomberg take another big gulp from a judicial ruling limiting his power.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.