Scott Tibbs
blog post
February 14th, 2005

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Civil rights and the ACLU

The ACLU is getting involved in a California gang crackdown.

While many conservatives will rush to condemn the ACLU, I urge a more balanced approach.

I am not convinced that what the ACLU is doing is wrong here. There are competing interests in the police crackdown on gangs, both of which are important to a healthy society. First, police must have the ability to investigate and fight gang activity without "politically correct"® restrictions keeping them from doing their job effectively.

However, from the very beginning of this constitutional republic, the importance of keeping law enforcement powers in check has always been paramount. There is nothing wrong with the ACLU being a watchdog on law enforcement to make sure civil rights are not violated. While I am sure the police are not harassing innocent Latinos for kicks, an overzealous campaign can result in the harassment of people who have done no wrong, no matter how well-intentioned that campaign is. The key here is finding a proper balance between civil rights and public safety.

Some may say that if you do nothing wrong you need not worry about law enforcement. That simply is not the case. Hundreds of people have been wrongfully convicted by our justice system, and some have even been sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit.

Furthermore, there is the potential for corruption in government. We saw during the late 1990's how disgraced ex-President Clinton abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass conservative issue-advocacy groups who opposed his policies. If the President of the United States can be corrupt, is it so hard to believe there is some corruption in local law enforcement?

I certainly do not mean to impugn the integrity of law enforcement personnel. The majority of them work very hard to make sure that the streets are safe. But human beings are inherently evil creatures, cursed with a sin nature that can lead to unspeakable depravity. This is why there are limits on government, to keep any one person or group from having too much power.