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Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:31 PM

For once I agree with Rand Paul. I also don't think Loretta Lynch should be Attorney General

Cross-posted at DailyKos.com, progressiveamericanthought.blogspot.com and danriker.blogspot.com

By Dan Riker

I have more reasons than Paul cited. First, what he talked about.

He is opposing her because she supports the current laws allowing civil forfeiture of property when the owner has not been convicted of a crime. The Huffington Post reports that in her role as U.S. Attorney in New York she has seized about $13 million in private property. Her office once held $447,000 in private property for two years without ever charging the owner with a crime. When questioned before the Senate committee considering her nomination for Attorney General, she said she supports the current law.

I agree with Paul. This may be the only area of agreement with him. There are so many other areas of disagreement between us, I certainly would not vote for him. But I applaud his position here.

Now, here are my principal reasons for opposing her confirmation.

In other testimony before the committee, she said she supports the death penalty, saying she believes it deters crime. There is a world of evidence collected over many years that disputes that belief. There was evidence in England when there public hangings that the hangings actually caused more crime. We are among the greatest users of the death penalty, in company with China, North Korea, Yemen, and Iran. Isn't that wonderful company to be among? It is time for this nation to join with other civilized nations and ban this barbaric practice. Maybe the Supreme Court will do the right thing this term and end its use in the United States forever.

Lynch also says she opposes the legalization of marijuana. I have questions whether extensive use of it may lead to various kinds of health problems, but current scientific studies of marijuana use do not support my concern. There is plenty of hard evidence that cigarettes are far worse for our health and they are legal. And the same is true about alcohol and it is legal in much of the country. We tried outlawing it and we created organized crime.

We created the drug cartels and a huge prison industry by declaring a war on drugs. It has been the longest war in our history and our least successful. We have more than tripled the number of people in prison since 1985 when mandatory prison sentences for drug offenses were made federal law, and most of those people are in prison for non-violent drug offenses. And nothing we have done has stopped the use of drugs. It just has increased the cost.

When I was in law school back in the 1970s, one of the assigned books in criminal law was then already a classic, The Limits of the Criminal Sanction, by Herbert L. Packer, a professor at the Stanford University School of Law. My copy of this book, first published in 1968, was the 76th printing. That shows it was widely read, particularly in law schools. I have to believe that Loretta Lynch has read it. It is a very scholarly analysis of criminal law. His fundamental thesis was that the greater the penalty applied to a criminal offense, the more valuable success in that crime became. And it was especially true when it came to illegal drugs.

He wrote that the use of criminal law to try to control the use of narcotics and other drugs was the greatest example of the misuse of the criminal sanction. "A clearer case of misapplication of the criminal sanction would be difficult to imagine."

Just before that sentence he lists the results of reliance on the criminal sanction to control drugs - and keep in mind, this was written in 1968 before mandatory prison sentences and many of the other expansions of the war on drugs.

"The results of this reliance on the criminal sanction have included the following:
(1) Several hundred thousand people (ed. now more than 2 million), the overwhelming majority of whom have been primarily users rather than traffickers, have been subjected to severe criminal punishment.
(2) An immensely profitable illegal traffic in narcotics and other forbidden drugs has developed.
(3) This illegal traffic has contributed significantly to the growth and prosperity of organized criminal groups.
(4) A substantial number of all acquisitive crimes - burglary, robbery, auto theft, other forms of larceny - have been committed by drug users in order to get the wherewithal to pay the artificially high prices charged for drugs on the illegal market.
(5) Billions of dollars and a significant proportion of total law enforcement resources have been expended in all stages of the criminal process.
(6) A disturbingly large number of undesirable police practices - unconstitutional searches and seizures, entrapment, electronic surveillance - have become habitual because of the great difficulty that attends the detection of narcotics offenses.
(7) The burden of enforcement has fallen primarily on the urban poor, especially Negroes and Mexican-Americans.
(8) Research on the causes, effects, and cures of drug use has been stultified.
(9) The medical profession has been intimidated into neglecting its accustomed role of relieving this form of human misery.
(10) A large and well-entrenched enforcement bureaucracy has developed a vested interest in the status quo, and has effectively thwarted all but the most marginal reforms.
(11) Legislative invocations of the criminal sanction have automatically and unthinkingly been extended from narcotics to marijuana to the flood of new mind-altering drugs that have appeared in recent years, thereby compounding the preexisting problem."[ii]


As a prosecutor, Ms. Lynch has been outstanding. That is a crime-fighting job, not a law-making one. The role of Attorney General is different. Yes, there is crime-fighting, but there also is law-making, or, at least law-influencing. For example, the present Attorney General has stopped enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in states where it has been legalized. That is an act of discretion, but also of common sense.

The Attorney General of the United States is the leading legal administrative official of the United States and has great influence over legislation and over how existing laws are enforced. It is very important that someone hold this position with a forward-looking view, not one based on the past, refusing to see and acknowledge the wrongness of the war on drugs.

One of the greatest mistakes of our past has been the War on Drugs, including the criminalization of marijuana. No sensible person can expect to enforce a law against a plant that can be grown under artificial light in anyone's closet without violating the Constitution in wholesale amounts.

The legalization, or at least de-criminalization of marijuana would save millions of people from criminal records and prison sentences that ruin their lives, and, at the same time, save billions of dollars in law enforcement and prison costs. It also would eliminate a major source of profit of the drug cartels.

Our Attorney General needs to have better judgment that what Loretta Lynch has displayed.

Packer, Herbert L. The Limits of the Criminal Sanction. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1968. p. 333.
[ii] Ibid. pp 332-333

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply For once I agree with Rand Paul. I also don't think Loretta Lynch should be Attorney General (Original post)
danriker Feb 2015 OP
GeorgeGist Feb 2015 #1
msongs Feb 2015 #10
mike_c Feb 2015 #2
progressoid Feb 2015 #3
jimruymen Feb 2015 #4
rhett o rick Feb 2015 #5
Scuba Feb 2015 #9
rhett o rick Feb 2015 #14
Jim Lane Feb 2015 #15
Scuba Feb 2015 #16
Jim Lane Feb 2015 #18
Scuba Feb 2015 #19
Jim Lane Feb 2015 #20
Scuba Feb 2015 #21
Jim Lane Feb 2015 #22
merrily Feb 2015 #28
Adam051188 Feb 2015 #6
merrily Feb 2015 #29
Adam051188 Feb 2015 #31
mountain grammy Feb 2015 #7
Fuddnik Feb 2015 #8
project_bluebook Feb 2015 #11
Cryptoad Feb 2015 #12
Liberal_Stalwart71 Feb 2015 #13
Jim Lane Feb 2015 #17
Liberal_Stalwart71 Feb 2015 #23
friendly_iconoclast Feb 2015 #24
Liberal_Stalwart71 Feb 2015 #25
friendly_iconoclast Feb 2015 #32
Jim Lane Feb 2015 #30
friendly_iconoclast Feb 2015 #33
friendly_iconoclast Feb 2015 #34
Liberal_Stalwart71 Feb 2015 #26
JustAnotherGen Feb 2015 #27

Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:35 PM

1. She sounds like a Republican.

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Response to GeorgeGist (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:22 PM

10. her job will be to implement the policies and views of barack obama nt

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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:44 PM

2. I will never support a drug warrior for exective office in the Justice Dept....

Their judgement has proven inadequate to the job.

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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 04:01 PM

3. Why?

Is it her singing? Or her hair? Or her clothes?



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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 04:47 PM

4. corporatist lawyer

 

Loretta Lynch has a storied history of screwing over the little guy for her coporate benefactors. Sound familiar?

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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 04:57 PM

5. She sounds like another of Pres Obama's disappointing appointees. Not a progressive

 

in the bunch.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #5)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:07 PM

9. Nope. Hell, even his Supreme Court nominees voted to allow wage theft by Amazon.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:50 PM

14. I saw that. Erg! nm

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 08:44 AM

15. No, they recognized that Congress had voted to allow it.

 

In the thread you link to, no one troubled to quote the actual statute that the Supreme Court was required to apply. The workers' right to overtime pay arose under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Unfortunately, the Act had been amended to provide that there is no right to overtime pay for time spent in

activities which are preliminary or postliminary to (the employee's) principal activities....


The workers were spending time in a security check before leaving the facility. It was time the employer required them to spend, and it benefited the employer rather than them, so they thought they should be compensated for it -- but the security check was "postliminary" to their principal activity, so Congress had taken it out of the FLSA.

More complete explanation here.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 08:49 AM

16. Their job is to overrule Congress if appropriate. That's a big part of what the SCOTUS is for.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #16)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 09:15 AM

18. Only in cases of violations of the Constitution.

 

It's most emphatically not the job of SCOTUS to overrule Congress just because it thinks Congress has made a mistake. For many years before and during the New Deal, the Court majority did that in striking down various social-welfare legislation (prohibitions on child labor and the like). The Court from that era would have overruled Congress on the very existence of the FLSA -- the entire statute would have been set aside, leaving no workers anywhere with any legal right to overtime pay.

Today, that line of cases is almost universally viewed as wrong. We elect Congress to make the laws. The Court can't "overrule" Congress except for the protection of rights under the Constitution (and even that exception has its critics). The current Supreme Court has departed from that understanding at times, for example in eviscerating the Voting Rights Act, and has been justifiably criticized for it.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #18)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 09:20 AM

19. Exactly. Are you arguing that the law allowing wage theft is Constitutional?

 

Or that the interpretation of that law is Constitutional?


I believe there's an Amendment in there someplace regarding that.

"Neither slavery no involuntary servitude ...."

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Response to Scuba (Reply #19)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 09:34 AM

20. Are you arguing that the Constitution requires overtime pay?

 

The Constitution has never been interpreted to require private employers to do anything of the sort (to pay overtime, to maintain safe workplaces, to not hire children, etc.). All those things are illegal only because of statutes.

You refer to "the law allowing wage theft". What you call wage theft was perfectly legal until 1938, when the Fair Labor Standards Act became law. It was amended in 1947 to include the language I quoted. The overall effect is that the Act, as amended, requires overtime pay for certain required activities but not for others. Just as Congress has the power to decline to require overtime pay at all (the choice it made for the first century and a half under the Constitution), it has the power to require overtime pay for some activities but not for others. Congress could repeal the entire FLSA tomorrow without violating the Constitution.

The situation at that Amazon facility is not involuntary servitude because the workers aren't legally compelled to work there. "Economic circumstances forced me to take this job so it's involuntary and hence unconstitutional" has never been accepted as an interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment, and with good reason.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #20)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 09:49 AM

21. Work without pay sure sounds like "involuntary servitude", but maybe that's just me.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #21)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 12:27 PM

22. Please alert Skinner that MIRT is a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.

 

An evil corporation (Democratic Underground LLC) is getting people to do its work without pay. Work without pay is involuntary servitude. This is what brave men died at Gettysburg to stop!

The serious answer to your post is that courts have never interpreted "involuntary" the way you do. It refers only to a legal compulsion. It excludes cases where the person has agreed to do something.

Issues have been raised about whether the Thirteenth Amendment is violated by compulsory jury duty or by military conscription. Both involve coercion by the government and are not based on any voluntary act of the person involved.

In the Amazon case, by contrast, the government is not compelling anyone to do anything. In fact, it's the workers who want to involve the government's power, asking it to compel the staffing company to pay them for the screening time.

Furthermore, the workers have all voluntarily agreed to work there. Each of them is free to say "I don't voluntarily agree to spend time going through this screening procedure," but in that case the company is free to say "Then you're fired." The Thirteenth Amendment does not mean that someone can take a job with a private employer but refuse to perform some of the duties of that job.

I realize you're not saying that they should be able to refuse, only that they should be paid for the time they spend. I personally think they should be paid. But we have to recognize that their legal right comes only from the FLSA, and that it was amended to exclude activities like the security screening. The answer is still to persuade Congress to change the law, rather than to criticize Obama or his Supreme Court appointees.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #22)

Sat Feb 7, 2015, 07:16 AM

28. Your MiRT example is wholly inapposite.

I don't know what satisfaction people get from their wholly voluntary service on the MIRT team, but failure to volunteer for MIRT is not the same at all as telling their employer they are not going to participate in security measures unless they get paid overtime for it.

The shame here may well be on Congress, rather than the Justices. However, that is a separate issue from comparing a job that enables people to feed their kids to volunteering for MIRT.

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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:00 PM

6. the fact that she reached office under our current system of government....

 

...is enough information for me to know that she will continue the class wars begun in the fifties and sixties.

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Response to Adam051188 (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 7, 2015, 07:21 AM

29. I thought class wars began thousands of years ago, and almost always with government being of the

rich people, by the rich people and for the rich people.

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Response to merrily (Reply #29)

Sun Feb 8, 2015, 03:36 PM

31. touche

 

i should have states "continued the counter-offensive of the american fascists against the Roosevelt's socialists"

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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:01 PM

7. I agree. I don't like this choice for Attorney General

for most of the reasons stated above. I think Obama appointed her to avoid a fight, and that's just wrong.

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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:03 PM

8. Next, you'll be getting a "Greenwald-Snowden '16" tattoo on your arm.

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:30 PM

11. Been there, done that.

 

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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:31 PM

12. Paulist have taken over ! geeez

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Response to danriker (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:43 PM

13. I don't support legalization of marijuana, either, unless you release ALL black and brown men

 

who have been jailed due to simple possession.

Release them FIRST, wipe their criminal records CLEAN, then let's talk legalization.

We all know why racist Rand Paul doesn't support Loretta Lynch. His arguments against her is a smokescreen.

And when DUers champion Rand Paul because they think he shares their views for some noble cause, I know this place has become something I don't recognize anymore.

Fucking ridiculous!!

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Response to Liberal_Stalwart71 (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 09:03 AM

17. Your characterization of the OP is indefensible.

 

What the OP actually said:
I agree with Paul. This may be the only area of agreement with him. There are so many other areas of disagreement between us, I certainly would not vote for him. But I applaud his position here.


What you wrote:
And when DUers champion Rand Paul because they think he shares their views for some noble cause, I know this place has become something I don't recognize anymore.


The OP shouldn't even have needed to say that he disagreed with Rand Paul on so many other things. What's "fucking ridiculous" to my mind is that, even when the OP bent over backward to point that out, someone comes along and bashes him for allegedly championing Rand Paul.

You know, there are issues on which right-wingers disagree with each other. Immigration is one. As another example, we may well see wingnuts on both sides of the TPP/fast-track vote. They can't all be wrong. More generally, DUers can agree with a particular issue position without thereby "championing" a politician who articulated it.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #17)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 01:27 PM

23. I don't give a fuck about Rand Paul or what he thinks. As long as he's

 

a racist fuck, he can go to hell!

You can call me all kinds of names. Insult me all you want.

Rand Paul and his pappy are racists! Period! And people who agree with ANYTHING they have to say should be ashamed of themselves.

Case closed!

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Response to Liberal_Stalwart71 (Reply #23)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 10:33 PM

24. "Case closed!" Not really, you're using a associational and/or genetic fallacy

 

My response to people who make arguments like yours:

https://www.google.com/search?q=kennedy+cape+wind&sitesearch=democraticunderground.com#q=kennedy+koch+%22Cape+Wind%22+site:democraticunderground.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/us/koch-brother-wages-12-year-fight-over-wind-farm.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Koch Brother Wages 12-Year Fight Over Wind Farm
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

OSTERVILLE, Mass. — If the vast wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound is ever built, William I. Koch will have a spectacular view of it.

Of course, that is the last thing he wants. Mr. Koch, a billionaire industrialist who made his fortune in fossil fuels and whose better-known brothers underwrite conservative political causes, has been fighting the wind farm, called Cape Wind, for more than a decade, donating about $5 million and leading an adversarial group against it. He believes that Cape Wind’s 130 industrial turbines would not only create what he calls “visual pollution” but also increase the cost of electricity for everyone.

Now, as if placing a bet on the outcome of the battle, Mr. Koch, 73, who has owned an exclusive summer compound here for years, has acquired an even grander one — Rachel Mellon’s 26-acre waterfront estate in the gated community of Oyster Harbors, for $19.5 million. He has also bought the nearby 12-plus-acre Dupont estate. All of this adds up to a prime perch over Nantucket Sound...

...Mr. Koch is not the only opponent of Cape Wind. The late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, whose Hyannis family compound also looked out on Nantucket Sound, opposed the project too...



Or:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/30/murdoch-bloomberg-testify_n_745499.html

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/15/news/la-pn-murdoch-bloomberg-applaud-obama-immigration-order-20120615


Murdoch, Bloomberg applaud Obama immigration order
June 15, 2012|By Kim Geiger


WASHINGTON – President Obama’s decision to allow some young illegal immigrants to work legally in the United States drew applause from business leaders across the political spectrum.

Business leaders have long argued that the United States’ current immigration policy makes the country less competitive.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp., joined Alcoa Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld and Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman in issuing a full-throated endorsement of the president’s new policy.

“We hope this prompts Congress to reach agreement on common-sense immigration policies that reflect American labor market needs and American values,” the group said in a joint statement. “Young people who had no choice over coming to this country, have grown up here and now want to become productive members of our society should not be treated like criminals.”...

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Response to friendly_iconoclast (Reply #24)

Sat Feb 7, 2015, 06:04 AM

25. There is nothing you can tell me, no article you can post, or write that would EVER lead me to

 

support a racist. And if you do, please do not write to me, o.k. Do not post to me if you follow this fucking racist. PERIOD!

Welcome to ignore

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Response to Liberal_Stalwart71 (Reply #25)

Sun Feb 8, 2015, 04:35 PM

32. Pointing out that a racist is correct on *one* subject isn't giving them a character reference

 

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Response to friendly_iconoclast (Reply #24)

Sat Feb 7, 2015, 12:05 PM

30. Good examples. I remember making the same point about NAFTA.

 

During the Clinton administration, a Democratic club in Greenwich Village hosted a debate about NAFTA. I was one of the "Anti" speakers, representing the Sierra Club.

During the question period, one audience member was invoking this associational fallacy. I pointed out (to this very liberal gathering) that you could either support NAFTA and side with Newt Gingrich, or oppose it and side with Pat Buchanan.

As for Rand Paul, I haven't followed him closely, but I think that in 2014 he gave the Etch-A-Sketch a shake on foreign policy. He had started off as an opponent of U.S. military intervention (echoing his father, who voted against the Iraq War Resolution). Realizing that he needed to be more militaristic if he wanted to win the Republican nomination, he pivoted hard right, contradicting what he'd said just a few months earlier. If my memory on this is correct, then one could today paraphrase my NAFTA argument without even needing to find two different right-wingers -- whichever position you took, pro or con, would put you in agreement with something Rand Paul said.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #30)

Sun Feb 8, 2015, 04:38 PM

33. If Paul said that 2+2=4, those who pointed out that he was correct in that instance would be...

 

...accused of "supporting him"

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #30)

Sun Feb 8, 2015, 04:46 PM

34. Our interlocutor seems bent on avoiding actually discussing what Riker brought up

 

Strange that a self-declared "liberal stalwart" wouldn't oppose someone who holds
such illiberal positions...

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #17)

Sat Feb 7, 2015, 06:05 AM

26. I DON'T SUPPORT RACISTS!!!!

 

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Response to Liberal_Stalwart71 (Reply #13)

Sat Feb 7, 2015, 06:25 AM

27. ITA on releasing and wiping clean

Lets do that first, reinstate their voting rights if they have lost them - then we can talk legalization.

It's fair.

We know if we are asked to be polite and "wait" - it will never happen. Those folks will rot in prison another 20 years if we don't demand it up front.

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