Laws Should Reward People Who Make Good Decisions by Robert Socha
I know we are coming up on the twentieth anniversary this weekend, fulfilling our promise to “Never Forget” the catastrophic destruction that is an impetus to America’s freefall toward socialism, if not outright tyranny. The horrific cowardly attacks on our Financial and Military headquarters and the plane destroyed in Pennsylvania, with the thousands of lives lost, deserve our remembrance and continued diligence to defend mankind’s yearning to be free! But, theories to 9/11s causality notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon us to honor those who died, including the innocent and the first responders. May God have mercy on their souls and provide comfort to those still with us who were left behind and suffer incomprehensible loss.
Today, though, I am writing because I am mad at the deleterious effect erroneous court decisions have on the general population. I was reminded tonight and have had misgivings toward this beforehand that we on City Council have no legal recourse to keep vagrants and vagabonds from using our city’s features such as parks and public benches as personal property. Terrible mischaracterizations of justice occur when derelicts’ rights supersede the rights of those working diligently to provide a lovely home for their families and a friendly community for their peers. It is shameful that we have rewarded idleness and given permission for apathetic sloth.
In a 1972 Supreme Court decision, Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 U.S. 156, the 7-2 decision said vagrancy laws’ vagueness allows for too broad an interpretation and therefore is a violation of the citizenries’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. Justice O’Conner stated the vagueness of the law allows “arbitrary enforcement” and jeopardizes “freedom of movement.”[i]”Justices Byron R. White and William H. Rehnquist dissented. They said the law was “clear in many of its applications” and was struck down just because it was “somehow distasteful” to the court majority.”[ii]This decision indicates laws must be succinct in their definitions but fails to provide an adequate road toward that end. Too broad of an ordinance violate peoples’ rights; too narrow of a law unfairly targets others. Apparently, some of this decision’s fruit is the massive tent enclaves that occupy many of our great cities’ underpasses, the inability to control gang violence in inner cities, and the apologetic tone many public servants assume when trying to enforce public safety and personal accountability. Enabling people regularly to pass their time idly while utilizing public resources is gross malfeasance.
What happened to my Tenth Amendment right as a city legislature to address undelegated powers ensuring our fine city is a place people feel safe to visit and desire to attend. I want to be able to enjoy a city’s amenities without having to deal with incautious people whose choices have landed them in a precarious position and whose appearance projects apprehension in those of us who value civility and personal responsibility. I want to take a midnight stroll through the city center without placating my wife while we walk around a park bench where an unknown person has taken residence for the night.
Segue: there is a great scene in “The Bourne Identity” where Jason is sleeping on a park bench in a lovely park in Switzerland. Two police officers wake him up to enforce their policy that sleeping in public parks is verboten, “Can’t you read the signs?” Nobody watching the scene considered this intervention a violation of civil liberties, except, maybe, when they asked for his papers. Why? Because everyone knows that vagrancy and loitering are unnecessarily bad for a city’s image and must be dealt with if the city is to maintain growth and prosperity.
I want to see the taxpaying citizenry honored through the enforcement of statutory law enacted by Congress, state legislatures, or local municipalities. Honoring the law in this fashion demands miscreants take personal responsibility for their decisions and enforces their civic duty to find an organization that helps reacclimate them as productive members of society or moves them along to some uncharted shores where they will not cast a negative shadow. If the Supreme Court has called something that, if appropriately enforced, has a positive effect on the community unconstitutional, then I call on the legislative bodies to find a way to counteract the Court’s decision. The Court’s authority lies in interpreting the law and determining its constitutionality. They do not overturn anything! We would do well to remember their limited power to keep their oligarchal run in check.
It is high time we demand personal responsibility, integrity, and virtue in our citizenry. It is time we stop rewarding slothfulness and remind ourselves that a moral obligation to contribute to our communities positively rests on our shoulders. We must take a vested interest in our communities and hold ourselves and our peers to a higher standard. In this case, those who cannot or are not willing to provide for themselves and take advantage of the generous apportionment of public spaces have an opportunity to engage a private organization ready to help them reenter society as a productive member.
Christian Charity suggests digging deep to help those of us who have fallen on hard times and are suffering the consequences of bad decisions. As our conscience dictates, we should try to uphold this philanthropy. On the other hand, public policy demands safety in the public square and enforcing the rules, which create a trustworthy atmosphere where commerce is engaged, and visitors can peacefully go to town unmolested.
About the Author
Robert Socha, BIO Robert Socha (so-ha), was born in southern California. He served 5 years 3 months active duty in the United States Air Force; honorably. After his service he took an Associate’s Degree in Practical Theology, where, through his studies, developed a deep love of God and Country and sincere appreciation of the value of Liberty. Robert and his beloved wife of 21-plus years are raising 4 beautiful Texan children. They moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, in 2013, to put their children in Hillsdale Academy. Robert is a sales professional. He and his wife consider Michigan a hidden gem, and absolutely love this city and state (current political environment notwithstanding) they’ve adopted.