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Timely thoughts on the Rule of Law from a Seattle Mayor…

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“From the time I became mayor of the City of Seattle, I have directed constantly that in the making of arrests without warrant no person shall be thus arrested unless the officer making the arrest has information of his own knowledge or evidence from some other person upon which to base a definite charge for the violation of some law or ordinance.

So far as I have controlling influence, there has been and shall be no dragging of people to jail for detention and release without charge, or for nominal charge unsustained by evidence or expecting dismissal by the police judge.” – Seattle Mayor George Cotterill, 1913 (George Cotterill, Hiram Gill and the Potlatch Riots)

This is a great quote from a time in Seattle’s past when the rainbow of political beliefs seemed to be a little wider than it is now. I recommend that you follow the link and read the whole article. At the time Mr. Cotterill was Mayor of Seattle, people held wildly different beliefs and some people were afraid of it. Those people wanted to suppress those different beliefs through any means, even if they had to stretch the laws and the Constitution, others (such as Mayor Cotterill) believed America could handle different beliefs. He believed (and I believe) that we already have laws that cover almost any situation and we don’t need to start ignoring those laws just because some people are scared.

I believe it takes a lot more than even 3,000 dead in a terrorist attack (a tragedy to be sure) to start disregarding Constitutional principles like the rights of everyone to fair and open trials, and disregarding other legal and moral principles that forbid torture of any prisoners.

Big Time Patriot

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  • Maurice

    I have to confess to a little confusion about this post. I am going to guess that you believe we should apply our constitution to non-citizens. You will have a hard time getting support for that concept.

    As far as torture – I have no problem with the firing of a gun near a prisoner’s head to frighten him into providing information that saves American lives.

    What is your opinion on beheadings?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    This ‘article’ is so vague that it’s hard to tell who he wants the rule of law to apply to. No indication I can see that he’s talking about foreign detainees or POWs.

    This could just as easily apply to the new efforts to suspend habeas corpus and search warrants and let the FBI search anywhere it wants without court approval.

    Dave

  • http://www.bigtimepatriot.com Big Time Patriot

    “I am going to guess that you believe we should apply our constitution to non-citizens. You will have a hard time getting support for that concept.”

    I am saying that the principles that we put into our Constitution are good principles and we SHOULD APPLY THEM in every possible case, INCLUDING NON-CITIZENS.

    Are these constitutional principles good ideas? If so, why not apply them in as wide a range as we have control over? If you don’t like the constitution or its principles, just come right out and admit it.

    And I think the rules of law should be followed in all cases in America, people should not be detained for peaceful protesting (as happened in New York during the Republican convention as just on example of many).

    AND THE PRINCIPLES OF OUR CONSTITUTION should be applied as US policy in cases where specific laws aren’t written.

    “As far as torture – I have no problem with the firing of a gun near a prisoner’s head to frighten him into providing information that saves American lives.” What you are saying is that you have no problem with firing a gun near the head of thousands of innocent people in order to scare the couple terrorists that were caught? If we knew exactly who the terrorists were in the first place it would be less of an issue, but beating and frightening thousands of people will just get you thousands of confessions, you’d still have to decide which ones were real and which ones were just out of fear.

    Legal protections for accused people are written into the constitution. If they are good enough for us, what is your problem with applying them to others?

    It seems that a large segment of Americans were utterly defeated by the attacks on 9-11 and have decided that America must now operate at exactly the same level as terrorists, using the same priniciples of working outside the law to detain and torture people.

    I’m sorry you have given up on taking the high moral ground. But some of us think that if you really want to spread Democracy, as a representative of Democracy you have to quit taking your cues on handling security from Dictators and Tyrants.

    Why did we fight Saddam, among other reasons supposedly to stop hit “torture rooms”, if we have our own “torture rooms”, why did we fight the war again?

  • Maurice

    Your comments are all over the map. I have to confess to not getting all your references. I don’t know how to help you understand that the rights afforded to you through the constitution are based on your citizenship. As far as applying those same rights to a non-citizen… that seems odd. What is the justification? Are you proposing anarchy? Would you treat a rabid dog the same as a non-rabid dog?

    Are you just messing with us or are you sincere?

    Bizarre…

  • Taloran

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Amendment V

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    I don’t know if I’m reading it wrong, but the words “No person” at the beginning of the Fifth Amendment seem to apply to all people regardless of nationality. Can anyone provide a quote from the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that says that the document only applies to American citizens?

  • Maurice

    I can’t tell if you guys are serious…

    If you are, all you have to do is read the Preamble.

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES…

    …OURSELVES AND OUR POSTERITY…

    Geez…

  • http://www.bigtimepatriot.com Big Time Patriot

    “I don’t know how to help you understand that the rights afforded to you through the constitution are based on your citizenship. As far as applying those same rights to a non-citizen… that seems odd.” Wow, that’s hard to respond to. I don’t know how to help you understand that the rights afforde to us through the constitution are GOOD things, not just things written down but things to aspire to in our dealings with the world. As far as applying these rights to a non-citizen, if we believe in these rights, how could we as American’s NOT afford these rights to everybody we deal with.

    Don’t forget, when the founding fathers put the “cruel and unusual punishment” part into the constitution, they were well familiar with torture and people being detained without hearings, the English did it to their uppity colonists all the time. The founding fathers were against detaining people without hearings and against torturing people. I think we should follow their lead on this and be against these things.

    We shouldn’t detain people without hearings, not because there is a rule written down somewhere, but because it is a good idea.

    The question is not whether a few bad guys get beaten or “disappeared”, the question is how many innocent people are you willing to allow to get beaten or “disappeared” to get those few bad guys? How many innocent people is okay with you? Or if they are innocent foreigners you don’t even care?

    If you think the government just “knows” who is guilty before they torture them, you are assigning a lot of competence to the same government you probably don’t trust to handle your taxes or mail in a competent manner.

  • gonzo marx

    “we hold these Truths to be self evident, that all men are Created equal”

    sound familiar?

    which part of “all” isn’t clear as an unmuddied lake, as clear as a sky of azure summer?

    but some folks want to pick and choose who “Rights” belong to…

    as i have stated many times..the Ends do not justify the Means…but the Means are the End in and of themselves..

    a little lesson i learned fomr a political philosopher, you know …the one the Shrub said was his favorite?

    a nice young rabbi from history, Yeshua ben Miriam…you might know him by another name…Jesus…kind of a famous philosopher so many folks in government like to talk about..

    too bad they can’t seem to comprehend, much less follow, the Principles of his Teaching…

    i’m all for catching the bad guys here folks…but i am NOT wanting to become the “black hats” to do so…and each and every time we employ such tactics…no matter how “noble” the Cause…we destroy our own “moral authority” and cannibalize another fraction of our Soul as a Nation…

    just stop for a second…and think about it…

    there’s a fine line between fascism and patriotism….if you try really hard…you can point to it..

    now look at your feet…which side of that line are you on?

    Excelsior!

  • Maurice

    Geez, you guys are idealistic (naive). I live in a quiet community that is basically crime free except for 1 or 2 murders a week. These murderers don’t speak English and seem to disappear (perhaps to the south?) when the cops are close to catching them. If only we would treat them like citizens maybe they would quit killing. We just need to give them more rights. We should never detain them. They have earned all the same rights as someone that is here legally. I sure am glad you 2 could help me to understand peace and love and that all crime would end if we would get rid of laws and cops. You guys are so smart. I’m stupid.