Tuesday, December 17, 2002

HOW WE CAN OVERTURN THE USA PATRIOT ACT AND RESTORE DEMOCRACY
despite the fact the right wing owns the Supreme Court


The answer is simple: all we have to do is forget about hate crimes legislation and instead use anti-terrorist laws to bring criminals motivated by bigotry to justice--it's easier, the burden of proof is lower, and prosecutors have far more leeway. We can prosecute white supremacists suspected of burning crosses in black people's yards; neo-Nazis who allegedly paint swastikas on the doors of synagogues; Muslim bashers who deface mosques, Catholic and/or other Christian bashers who burn down churches; rogue cops who brutalize "suspects"; and even anti-abortion extremists who bomb abortion clinics, all under the USA PATRIOT act as terrorists.

Warning: this is a best-case scenario, and is likely to work only in liberal jurisdictions like California, New England, or the Pacific Northwest, where the judiciary tilts Democratic or left-wing Republican. Prosecutors would have an easy time "proving" guilt: secret evidence, hearsay, rumors, monitoring attorney-client conversations, and gossip would be admissible. Imagine a KKK (neo-Nazi) defendant not being allowed to face his black (Jewish) accuser--he'd be throwing a hissy fit! All this is perfectly legal under the USA PATRIOT act. Chances are, the defendant would be convicted in what amounts to a kangaroo court.


The only recourse the now-convicted terrorist would have to overturn his or her unjust conviction, based on evidence which would otherwise be inadmissible, would be to appeal the conviction to the appeals courts. If, let's say, the Ninth Circuit, overturns the conviction on the grounds that the USA PATRIOT act is unconstitional on its face, the entire act is null and void, and Ashcroft would be left sitting with egg on his face because he can't legally appeal an overturned criminal conviction to the Supreme Court. But, if the Appeals court lets stand the verdict, the defendant can take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, where five right-wing, fascist "Justices" sit on the bench, who apparently don't want right-wing domestic terrorists languishing in prison when they can be out terrorizing American minorities. Chances are, they'll overturn the USA PATRIOT act as unconstitutional not so much because it really is unconstitutional, but because who's rotting in prison because of the anti-terrorist laws. In other words, it's not you do, but who you are.

Yes, we can take advantage of conservatives' attitude of selective application of justice to restore democracy; we just have to know how to do it.