Saturday, 29 October 2011


Lamar Smith leads another assault on liberty

It’s Lamar Smith, again!  Dept.
Radley Balko:
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill yesterday [October 6] that would make it a federal crime for U.S. residents to discuss or plan activities on foreign soil that, if carried out in the U.S., would violate the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) — even if the planned activities are legal in the countries where they’re carried out.  The new law, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas)allows prosecutors to bring conspiracy charges against anyone who discusses, plans or advises someone else to engage in any activity that violates the CSA...
"Cornellian,” commenting at Volokh:
...This statute would make it a criminal offense to have this conversation in the United States:
Friend 1:  Hey, let’s go to Amsterdam and smoke weed where it’s legal!
Friend 2:  Great idea! I’m in! (agreement)
Friend 1:  Lemme check airfare on Expedia. (overt act)
"LaSuthenboy,” commenting at PJ Tattler:
This is exactly the kind of crap that gives the left fodder for going after the right, exactly the kind of behavior that drives people away from conservatism; minding other people’s business...  This busybody BS from Republicans feeds the growth of the busybody left.

It is perfectly rational and sane to make illegal the plotting of illegal activities over the border.  But, to specifically include activities legal over the border is just another grab for power for the government.  Right or Left, the ultimate goal is to eventually have laws governing everything you do or think, down to the hours you sleep and your breaths per minute.

Lamar Smith and every representative that was party to this needs to be held by the scruff of the neck and chased around in circles with a hickory stick until he can’t sit down for a week while having the first amendment read to them over and over….with a bullhorn.
We’ve noticed Lamar Smith before.  He’s the guy who wanted to apply civil forfeiture to copyright enforcement (so the RIAA could confiscate your computer).  And who thought it would be a good idea to require anyone operating a WIFI access point maintain two years worth of user records in the name of "aiding police investigations.”

So we know what Smith is about, and it’s not about individual liberty.  It’s probably too much to ask the Republicans to read Smith out of the party; what’s less understandable is whythehell supposedly freedom-loving Texans keep re-electing him.

Naming names:

H.R.313, the "Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011.”
Sponsor:  Lamar Smith [R-TX]
Co-Sponsor:  Adam B. Schiff [D-CA]

Unlike most legislation, the effect of this two-page bill would seem easily understandable by anybody (except possibly its sponsor[1]): It adds this paragraph to Section 406 of the (existing) Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 846):
Whoever, within the United States, conspires with one or more persons, or aids or abets one or more persons, regardless of where such other persons are located, to engage in conduct at any place outside the United States that would constitute a violation of this title if committed within the United States, shall be subject to the same penalties that would apply to such conduct if it were to occur within the United States.
Simple, direct, obvious... right?  No exception for legal conduct, and no excuses for voting for it, either.

Vote:  October 6, 2011: Order to report as amended, passed 20-7
Republicans voting yes:
Sandy Adams [FL]
Mark Amodei [NV]
Steve Chabot [OH]
J. Randy Forbes [VA]
Trent Franks [AZ]
Elton Gallegly [CA]
Bob Goodlatte [VA]
Trey Gowdy [SC]
Tim Griffin [AR]
Darrel Issa [CA]
Steve King [IA]
Tom Marino [PA]
Ben Quayle [AZ]
Dennis Ross [FL]
James Sensenbrenner [WI]
Lamar Smith [TX]

Republicans not voting:
Jason Chaffetz [UT]
Howard Coble [NC]
Louie Gohmert [TX]
Jim Jordan [OH]
Daniel Lungren [CA]
Mike Pence [IN]
Ted Poe [TX]

No Republicans voted "No”.

In fact, there’s even less than no excuse:  Before the order to report was voted, Robert C. Scott [D-VA] offered an amendment that would have fixed the problem:
Page 2, line 16, after "that" insert "is a criminal offense in the place where the conduct occurrs and".
The committee REJECTED Scott’s amendment, 11-3.

So Mr. Scott tried again, this time eliminating prosecution for de minimis offenses:
...insert "punishable by a term of inprisonment greater than 20 years" after "violation of this title"
That one was voted down 11-12

So: Every Republican who voted for this bill had been made aware that there was a problem, and chose to ignore it.  Lamar and his Gang of 15 (Republicans, plus 4 Democrats) have a bunch of explaining to do.


[1] Related (added 111030 20:15):
Techdirt:  Smith Was Against Massive Regulatory Compliance The Day Before He’s For It
Kinda makes you wonder if he even understands the legislation he’s introducing.

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