(WASHINGTON) — Thousands of protesters streamed into the nation’s capital Saturday for what was expected to be the city’s largest demonstration yet against police brutality while George Floyd was remembered in his North Carolina hometown, where hundreds of mourners lined up to pay their respects.
Military vehicles and officers in fatigues closed off much of downtown Washington to traffic ahead of the planned march, which authorities estimated would attract up to 200,000 people outraged by Floyd’s death 12 days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Large protests also took place across the U.S. and in major cities overseas, including London, Paris, Berlin and Sydney, Australia.
This mess is yet another example of personal liberty versus government power. On one side is the right to privacy in the home, expressly guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, and the right to silence, expressly guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment and by implication in the First Amendment. On the other side is an avaricious government that wants to know all it can about persons in America – whether constitutional or not.
Could a future Commerce Department ask how many guns are kept in the house or who living there goes to Mass on Sunday or if any resident has had an abortion? How much longer will a free people permit these intrusions? How much longer will we be a free people?
David Kris, the former assistant attorney general for national security and an expert on FISA, didn’t mince words when he reacted to the news.
“The release of FISAs like this is off the charts,” he wrote. “It is especially unprecedented considering that the FISAs have already gone through declassification review and the President is overruling the judgments of his subordinates to require expanded disclosure.”
Joyce Alene Vance, a longtime former federal prosecutor, largely agreed.
“Releasing FISA materials compromises national security,” she wrote. “Publicly releasing evidence during an ongoing criminal investigation is unprecedented.”
“When should we as a society paternalistically decide [that employees should be protected from] the risk of significant physical injury?” Kavanagh wrote in his dissent. Not only was this an extreme position—one few have espoused on the bench—but it completely contravenes Congress’s intent when it passed the workplace safety law more than four decades ago.
A bipartisan Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, and President Richard Nixon signed the legislation into law. It provided workers with the fundamental right to go to work and come home every day; workers should not have to sacrifice their lives for a paycheck. The law is clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace.
6. Stacking the Supreme Court.
Trump will likely get the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices, and the choices he makes will be revealing. Does he pick people who are personally loyal and beholden to him or opt for jurors with independent standing and stellar qualifications? Does he pick people whose views on hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and campaign financing comport with his party’s, or does he go for people who have an established view on the expansiveness of executive power and are more likely to look the other way if he takes some of the other steps I’ve already mentioned? And if it’s the latter, would the Senate find the spine to say no?
An Excess of Situational Awareness
If you protest, they will hear you. Demonstrate,
and they will come. Through the wires, over internet,
by email, social media, the government will watch you.
Criticize and they will come.
First they choked off their own cabinet, the ministers
and their deputies, then attacked their official opposition.
The scientists were silenced, literary handouts chopped
in the name of fiscal clarity and balanced budget.
Say nothing now on Facebook, not a chirrup nor a twitter.
They may claim anti-anarchy is their sole and guiding purpose,
Big Brother’s out to save us all by focusing on anyone
who dares to speak aloud to take their leader’s name in vain.
You always thought your nation was the haven of the free.
Now our government is watching and its target’s you and me.
Carol A. Stephen,
June 6, 2014
Carol A. Stephen is a Canadian poet. She’s twice been shortlisted, and in 2012 took 3rd place, in Canadian Authors Association National Capital Writing Contest. Carol is the author of two chapbooks, Above the Hum of Yellow Jackets, and Architectural Variations.
Carol A. Stephen,
Carleton Place, On. Canada, K7C 4P8
Published with permission of the above author.