Warning: A Federal Court Strategy is Dangerous for Liberty
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Warning: A Federal Court Strategy is Dangerous for Liberty


Running to federal courts can often make things even worse. National organizations like the ACLU and the NRA put a lot of time and energy into fighting things they oppose in federal court. But this approach only guarantees that bad decisions are going to be bad for everyone. Here’s an example. The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of an Arizona cop who shot a woman outside her Tucson home. The Supreme Court reversed an appellate court opinion, and ruled that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity. This effectively shields government officials from lawsuits over violations of rights. The majority held that there was no clear precedent that would have alerted the officer that opening fire in this situation amounted to unconstitutionally excessive force. Now, even without getting into all the details of this particular case, it’s clear the ruling is convoluted and pretty much creates a get-out-of-jail free card for cops everywhere. Responding to it in a tweet, the ACLU said, “SCOTUS continues to make it nearly impossible to hold police officers accountable.” But the real problem is running to a federal court to address a local issue in the first place. It could have been handled in the state court system under the state constitution. Now granted, the Arizona court system might have come up with the same bad decision. But that opinion then would only have applied in Arizona. By making a federal case out of it, we now have a horrible precedent that applies to everyone in the entire country. Keeping state and local violations of rights as state or local issues – even in court, ensures that bad outcomes are limited geographically, and the right outcome still has a chance in other states. The founders knew that one-size-fits-all solutions were dangerous for liberty. That’s why they included the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

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