Thursday, November 14, 2013

Zero Tolerance For Rights

You may have noticed the hubbub around some schools' zero tolerance weapons policy. Some described these rules as draconian and applaud those in authority who are working to bring "common sense" into the mix. Sounds good.

But...if you are blessed with only a passing familiarity with the U.S. Constitution (the legal document not the boat--that's U-S-S) you are or should be very concerned. Let's look at only one case as reported in the AJC:
[...]two Cobb County students were arrested within weeks of each other after police found knives in their cars parked on school grounds. [...] In one case, 17-year-old Cody Chitwood, an avid fisherman and senior at Lassiter High School, had filet knives in his fishing tackle box in the trunk of his car.
and continues with a quote from Mike Huckabee on the matter:
"He had it locked in a tackle box in a car."
That's the gist of it and since the article is primarily about the politics around zero tolerance it isn't surprising that a number of questions are left unasked and unanswered:
  1. What EXACTLY initiated the questioning of students? We will assume these students were ASKED before their PARENT'S vehicles were searched.
  2. What legal basis supports the search of a private vehicle? 
  3. Was there probable cause? For what exactly?
  4. Was the vehicle owner's permission obtained before the vehicle was searched?
We should all take note of what happens to constitutional rights and civil liberties when a government agency decides it knows what's best.