Saturday, May 2, 2009

TCRP Weighs in on Civil Liberties Issues

The Travis County Republican Party, in a Thursday, April 30th press release, reported that countywide Precinct Chairs voted on Monday, April 27th to send a message to Austin Police Chief, and State and Federal Lawmakers, that encroachments on individuals’ and States’ rights are not supported in Travis County.
“There is a real sense among local Travis County Republican leaders that governments at all levels are trampling on Constitutional rights,” said Rosemary Edwards, the TCRP chairwoman. “For instance sobriety checkpoints and invasive mandatory blood tests clearly violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which clearly states ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.’ Other measures now afoot violate the first and 10th amendments.

“Travis County Republicans are outraged at these efforts and are taking a stand despite the threat of being labeled potential rightwing extremist terrorists by our own Department of Homeland Security,” Edwards said.
The grassroots organizers of the local party expressed overwhelming agreement to:
· Call for the Texas State Legislature to reject SB 690 and HB 3458 and any other attempt to increase the difficulty of the current procedure for charter amendments.

· Call for the Austin City County Council to oppose the proposal of Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo to take blood samples from citizens suspected of driving under the influence. The body also called for Acevedo to withdraw his proposal.

· Call for the Texas State Legislature to reject SB 298 and HB 169 that calls for mandatory DUI checkpoints.

· Call for Travis County delegates to the U.S. Congress support passage of HCR 76, a bill that describes the abuses of the federal government with regard to states rights as noted in the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

· Call for Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security to withdraw its recent assessment titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” which singles out and profiles returning veterans as potential terrorists and makes other dubious assessments. The Travis County Republicans called for an apology to the United States armed services as well.
Though not noted in the TCRP press release, discussion of the assessment by Homeland Security Janet Napolitano prompted more than few members of the TCRP Executive committee, while condemning the Rightwing Extremism classification, to proudly display the label, which is not surprising since a large percentage of the US Population would fit into Napolitano's extremist classification.

The consent was not, however, unanimous. In particular the sobriety checkpoints and invasive mandatory blood tests drew a very small minority of support on the grounds that to oppose such measures would endangering the safety of the public and perhaps display a nonchalant attitude toward the very real problem of drunk driving. The majority however thought that traditional methods of determining sobriety were adequate and that the proposed extraordinary measures would endanger the rights of law abiding citizens.


Over time, as new precinct chairs have been elected to the TCRP Executive Committee, these new members have tended more toward libertarianism and away from old guard Republicanism and social values conservatism, or even Reagan style fiscal conservatism. The majority might claim to be Ronald Reagan Republicans while a growing minority are die-hard Ron Paul Republicans. Since the new chairs are being added between Republican Primaries it is not clear if the progression toward libertarianism is a natural one, or not. It is also unclear if the Thursday, April 30th press release would have been exactly the same were the makeup of the executive committee less influenced by Ron Paul.


Allen D. Porter said...

Travis County, Texas currently enjoys one of the lowest DUI fatality rates in the state. Did you know that a person in Mason County is TEN times more likely to die in a DUI-related crash than in Travis? DUI arrests in Travis are average in number.

Nobody wants laws that go too far. But when shooting down so much legislation aimed at drunk drivers, it is not a bad idea to make sure the public is also reminded of the importance of following the current laws.

Don't let a civil liberties victory become a victory for the drunk drivers.

My example of Mason County is actually a tame one, but Mason is close by. There are counties in Texas where the annual death toll per 100,000 people from drinking and driving is as much as 30-100 times the rate it is in Travis.

If I lived in Travis, I would want to keep it that way!

I can point to dozens of counties in Texas that could probably stand some tougher legislation (or at least tougher enforcement), but I don't believe Travis is one of them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Allen's point. It's not well known that drunk driving fatalities are very serious, but also that the trend has been going down in recent decades. MADD and their efforts in cracking down on drunk drivers have saved lives - in the tens of thousands.

That said, Travis and other places have made this progress without having to draw blood at roadside stops or other 'innovations' that impinge on liberties. I think its an example of something that is going too far.

Oh, and I guess I'll avoid night-time driving in Mason County.