Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Outlaw Is You

Professor David Cole writes against a recent perversion of the justice system in this country: The government declares that such and such group is a "foreign terrorist organization;" posits that so-and-so is a member of it. Just like that, it is a felony for you to do anything for that person!

The government may not be able to prove that its presumed "terrorist" has violated any law. The government may not be able to prove that that person is a member of the group. The government need not prove that the group even exists.

Just the government's say-so that that person is in a blacklisted group makes you a felon if you fill his tooth cavity, cut his hair, sell him a hamburger. Your ignorance of the guy's status on the blacklist is no excuse.

In the bad old days, the government could pass a law against a person: decree that it's against the law to be Billy the Kid, say. Modern law did away with outlawry--until now.

It's worse now than it used to be. In the dark ages it was only the outlaw who was beyond the law's protection. Now it's you.

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