Sunday, October 12, 2014

Another itteration of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the guardians? When free speech is limited for some because of political witch hunts and partisan persecutions, all are at risk.

A fundamental aspect of American culture that makes possible the life we have, including the exploration and clarification of Buddha Dharma, is freedom of speech.

Buddha Dharma is this freedom of boundless spaciousness of ongoing change - this is our life. Our practice is also discovering and clarifying the ways self-centered clinging limits this moment spaciousness, the ways reactive habits blind us to the boundless life and therefor result in suffering. Our life is joyous ongoing change. Living the bodhisattva life is prajna paramita, is the perfection of wisdom, wisdom beyond wisdom. Freedom of speech and of religion can nurture this life. This bodhisattva life is only inhibited by our clinging to and living out of fear.

Sadly, in many parts of the world freedom of speech, and the related freedom of religion, are severely restricted by governments, media entities, political correctness and elites. At times these restrictions lead to violence and death.

The homeland of Zen, China, has a long history since the 6th century CE development and flourishing of Zen of periods of repression of speech and religious freedoms; Zen practice has often suffered. Similar restrictions of speech, writing, thought, including restrictions focused on Buddha Dharma and various other "religious" traditions, have occurred throughout human history - in India, (the birthplace of Buddha), the Middle East, Europe or elsewhere.In the United States there has also been periods and areas of repression of freedom of speech and of religious choices.

Recently, events such as the use of the government intimidation in the form of the IRS investigations, penalties and actions, the NSA actions and the various actions of other administrative institutions, threaten and repress speech and religious activities. These activities continue to be investigated and litigated in the courts.

When the governmental and media "guardians" of our liberties and of our ability to make life choices become biased and blinded by their preferences and political allegiances, liberties and freedoms are at risk or cease to exist - despite the guarantees in law and constitutions.

Because imposing limits to the freedoms of those less popular, and persecuting them, is also a threat to all of us and a danger to all civil liberties (other than when these limits are for legitimate public safety reasons), I share this article.

The article is about legal persecutions and prosecutions. It is troubling and highlights threats to freedoms which are unfortunately ongoing:

"The criminalization of politics is bad enough—just ask Texas Gov. Rick Perry                                  —but a new turn to target citizens as well threatens to permanently warp our political discourse. Like it or not, federal courts will have to intervene to uphold Americans’ First Amendment rights against win-at-any-cost politics.

Wisconsin is ground zero of this phenomenon. A partisan elected district attorney, John Chisholm, reportedly goaded on by his union-steward wife, Colleen, decided to take aim at Republican Gov. Scott Walker after his 2011 “Budget Repair Bill” cut back on public-sector collective bargaining within the state. But Mr. Chisholm didn’t stop there: After an aggressive criminal investigation failed to knock Mr. Walker out of office, the district attorney set his sights on the governor’s philosophical allies, an assortment of conservative citizen groups that supported Walker’s reforms.

The claim was that these groups illegally “coordinated” their speech on the issues with Gov. Walker’s campaign, thereby circumventing campaign-finance regulations. The evidence? Intercepted emails and phone records showing that some of the groups communicated with Gov. Walker’s campaign, mostly on policy issues. That wasn’t enough to bring charges, but it did allow Mr. Chisholm to launch an aggressive criminal investigation targeting Gov. Walker’s supporters, complete with home raids and everything-but-the-kitchen sink subpoenas...."

Federal "district court agreed (and in May) blocked the investigation, reasoning that the District Attorney Chisholm’s theory of “coordination” was unconstitutional and could only have been adopted in bad faith.

In September, however, a panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, on the view that federal courts have no business interfering in state criminal investigations. While visibly distressed by the John Doe investigation, the three-judge panel assumed that the Club and Mr. O’Keefe could simply ask the state court overseeing the investigation for relief.

Easier said then done. While there is a state court overseeing one piece of Mr. Chisholm’s wide-ranging investigation, that court doesn’t exercise control over other conduct by Mr. Chisholm and his associates and doesn’t have the power to consider a First Amendment retaliation claim. And quashing a subpoena—the relief available in that state court—is no substitute for what the Constitution actually guarantees: freedom of speech without fear of government retaliation based on your viewpoint. In effect, the Seventh Circuit’s decision leaves John Doe’s victims out in the cold, so far as their First Amendment rights are concerned.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin may be an early indication of what’s to come. Just as the Delay prosecution touched off a dozen other politically motived cases, the Wisconsin John Doe investigation provides a template for similar mischief across the nation. It suggests that anyone can lob accusations of illegal “coordination” between an officeholder and his allies—and all a partisan prosecutor needs is evidence of a single private meeting or email to justify an intrusive and aggressive investigation. It’s that easy to tie your ideological opponents in knots for months or years on end. After Wisconsin, the temptation to use the law as a political weapon may prove irresistible.

The casualty is citizens’ ability to speak out on matters of public importance and interact with their elected representatives, rights which are at the very core of the First Amendment’s protections. Federal courts exist to enforce federal rights, particularly when they are under siege by state officials. If the federal judges shirk that duty, it will only embolden those bent on misusing criminal law to silence their opponents."

For the full article see:                              

I have been sent a reference to a book by a legal scholar regarding administrative law and pass along the citation, though without having read the book myself: