The Institute for Justice, the nation’s leading public interest law firm, picks its battles carefully. Our liberties are being assaulted from multiple angles, leaving their dream team of attorneys to engage in legal triage – winning big cases for individuals that then set solid precedents to defend the rest of the population. Renée Flaherty recently argued in defense of a young man named Charles Clarke, whose $11,000 in cash savings were seized at an airport through so-called “civil forfeiture.” Although Clarke was never charged with a crime, and had a legitimate explanation for why he was carrying the cash, airport officers wrote an affidavit expressing suspicion that the money had been earned through a drug deal. Next, several police departments quickly laid claim on the "booty", effectively rendering Clarke guilty until proven innocent. Thankfully, and in large part due to the IJ’s efforts, states are taking a second look at civil forfeiture laws. Senator Rand Paul has even proposed a federal law that would rein in police forces and ratchet up the standard for probable cause. Bob is thrilled to have Flaherty as his guest this Sunday, to explain how the Institute for Justice is helping to stem the tide of civil forfeiture, a practice which has more than doubled since President Obama took office. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention – call 1-800-345-5639 to join the conversation at any time.
Speak the words "private prison" to the wrong person and you are liable to get an earful about market fundamentalism run amok. Indeed, government's law-and-order functions seem to be among the most difficult to transition to the private sector. But is such alarmism over privately-run prisons really warranted? After all, it was the public sector corrections officers union in California that spent millions in 2004 to defeat an initiative that would have limited the number of life sentences handed down under the three strikes law, ensuring a steady supply of "customers" for their industry. Private prisons only account for a fraction of total corrections facilities in the U.S., so how can we account for the real injustice – the massive increase in the prison population over the last several decades?
To dissect this complicated issue, Bob is joined by prolific writer and podcast host Lucy Steigerwald. Steigerwald, a libertarian "millennial" and frequent contributor to VICE.com on issues of criminal justice, recently wrote an article on private prisons for The Daily Beast, which may straighten out some of the priorities of those who are still focused on the wrong injustices. Steigerwald is also a representative of the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, the premiere ladies organization serving the liberty movement.
“Be nice” may be excellent advice for children on the playground, customer service workers, and indeed, for most people in most situations. Being nice, however, does not always advance what Jonathan Rauch calls "the liberal science" – the ongoing process of public criticism that gradually brings us closer to the truth. Thanks to robust rights to free thought and expression, new ideas have been able to overturn ancient dogmas and superstitions. As a long-time editor of The Atlantic and scholar at the Brookings Institution, Rauch’s own writings and opinions have been forged in the crucible of free public debate, and he thinks all knowledge claims should be subject to this same process – even if it sometimes leads to "psychic harm," i.e., hurt feelings. The recent massacre in France is just one more in a long line of assaults on free expression. But the greater danger, described in Rauch’s book The Kindly Inquisitors: New Attacks on Free Thought, is not necessarily violent fundamentalism, but the failure by some to condemn such attacks out of a "humanitarian" sympathy with those offended. The book was republished in late 2013 with a new foreword by George F. Will, and is now more relevant than ever. Rauch will join Bob as he returns to the subject of our increasing sensitivity to criticism and our desire for freedom *from* speech.
Once again, the media is buzzing over Apple's latest product – the iPhone 6. One feature that has customers lining up is the new default “full encryption,” which locks the phone so thieves and hackers cannot get in. In fact, the phones are so secure that even Apple can’t access customers’ stored data when law enforcement presents a warrant. This has caused concern in government, with FBI Director James Comey recently calling for a “national conversation” on the dangers of these dark devices. Comey wants Apple and other companies to build tools into their technologies that would grant the FBI access to data, even though this would compromise the devices’ overall security. This show's guest is Jeremy Gillula, Staff Technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Gillula and his colleagues at EFF are responding to Comey’s call by informing lawmakers and citizens about the constitutional and technical issues at play. While Comey has admitted to a poor understanding of the underlying technology, Gillula is knowledgeable about both cryptography and civil liberties. He breaks down Comey's arguments, and explains where the real threats to our security lie.
Since the initial waves of political correctness and subsequent censorship swept across college campuses in the 1990s, many cases have been fought and won in favor of free speech. The overturning of unconstitutional speech codes, for example, seemed to herald a new era for individual rights in higher education. These victories resulted in no small measure from the tireless efforts of FIRE – the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Yet the battle is hardly over. Bob's guest tomorrow will be Greg Lukianoff, President of FIRE. As Greg explains in his new broadside, "Freedom From Speech," there are several new threats to free speech brewing. Colleges are beginning to include “trigger warnings” on standard humanities curricula. Controversial commencement speakers are being subject to "disinvitation campaigns," and a general culture of outrage is preventing a robust debate. This "chilling effect" can be observed both in academia and, increasingly, in society at large. Greg joins the show to discuss the latest challenges to free speech, and to look at the special role played by our universities in creating this stifling environment. They also examine the new "affirmative consent" laws, such as the one recently passed in California, and the dangers they pose to due process.
The Shadow University by Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate
In the opinion of the Founders, no right is more worthy of protection than the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, providing freedom of conscience and the right to speak one’s mind. Yet those in power find themselves threatened by those who exercise this right and government becomes tempted to limit speech, which is our most essential right for maintaining a free society. The First Amendment is under attack on our college campuses, of all places. Speech codes pervade. Censorship is rampant. Politically incorrect views are banned. And these are the institutions which will produce tomorrow’s voters and tomorrow’s leaders! Greg Lukianoff, President of the Foundation of Individual Rights (“FIRE”), is a leading expert on the subject, and his book “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” is a must read. In this encore episode, he joins Bob to discuss his findings. After listening to the show, you’ll think twice about making that contribution to your alma mater.
How can Americans have respect for law and order when all cops, feds, DEA and anyone else with a badge and a gun can take and keep a citizen’s property with due process and an infinitesimal amount of judicial oversight? That is how it works: compliments of a billion dollar and nationwide abuse called civil asset forfeiture. Though it was originally enacted to combat illegal trafficking in drugs, it’s expanded to become a budget enhancer for law enforcement. Why wear a ski mask and steal in the dead of night when you can wear a badge, earn a nice salary and achieve the same result? If you think this ranting hyperbole,tune in to this episode to get the story from Scott Alexander Meiner of the American for Forfeiture Reform. Guaranteed to make you change your mind. The inmates are minding the asylum.
Fear of crime is so yesterday. At one time, violent crime was on everyone’s mind but today, money is the big issue. We are plagued by out of control deficits, powerful public employee union rip-offs, out of control government spending and the expensive failed war on drugs. These issues all come together in this episode as Veronique de Rugy, Senior Research Fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center discusses “Prison Math” with Bob. American Exceptionalism is at risk because the United States hosts the world’s largest prison population. Are we truly “the land of the free” or are we all prisoners of our failed prison system?
Bob interviews John Lovell, a lobbyist for law enforcement groups who is fighting against the movement to legalize marijuana in the state of California. The initiative, also known as the “Tax Cannabis Act,” received enough signatures this week to qualify for the November ballot. If it is approved, California would become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults. The measure would also give local governments the authority to regulate and tax pot sales.