VA Lawmaker to Introduce Domestic Drone Regulation Bill

What could bring together the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and one of Virginia’s most conservative state representatives? The specter of drones filling the skies of the United States. In a joint statement released July 17 by Virginia Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and the Virginia Chapter of the ACLU, the seemingly disparate pair announced plans to work to fight the unregulated use of drones by law enforcement in the Old Dominion. He stated,

Both the ACLU and I believe, as do many Virginians across the political spectrum, that the use of drones by police and other government agencies should be strictly controlled by state laws that protect the privacy and civil rights of all Virginia residents. I will be introducing legislation in the 2013 General Assembly Session to i) prohibit the use of drones by law enforcement unless a warrant has been issued; ii) require that policies and procedures for the use of drones be adopted by legislative bodies in open meetings; iii) provide for public monitoring and accountability; and iv) mandate that pictures of individuals acquired by drones be destroyed unless they are part of an authorized investigation.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the Virginia ACLU, echoed Delegate Gilbert’s remarks:

Delegate Gilbert is right to be concerned about the possibility that, without new laws, this new and increasingly inexpensive technology will be used in a manner that will violate the fundamental right to be free from unreasonable searches and will have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of Virginians to assemble peaceably and speak freely. We are proud to be working with Delegate Gilbert to build a coalition in favor of the legislation he will introduce — a coalition that will bring together diverse voices from across the Commonwealth.

Despite their cooperation on this issue, Gilbert and the Virginia ACLU have been foes in previous matters. For example, Delegate Gilbert recently sponsored a bill that would permit state-assisted private adoption agencies to reject prospective parents if the agency objected to the couple’s religion or sexual orientation. Gilbert described the measure as a “conscience clause,” while the ACLU countered that it was state-sponsored anti-homosexual discrimination. The bill is now the law in Virginia.


Take it to Their Living Room!

I often hear politically active people express frustration at the general level of apathy in America. In particular, they lament the difficulty in getting their fellow citizens up off the couch and out from in front of the television.

They speak the truth.

We live in a visual society, and Americans love their TV. I don’t think we stand much of a chance of changing that any time soon.

So, how about instead of getting all worked up because people won’t come out and hear the message, we just take it to them – right where they sit – on their couches in front of the old boob-tube!

The recent Supreme Court opinion declaring the insurance mandate in the federal health care bill constitutional immediately thrust the principle of state nullification into mainstream discussion. James Madison called state interposition a duty, and Thomas Jefferson called it the rightful remedy when the federal government exercises powers not delegated. But most Americans have no idea what the word even means in a political sense, much less do they understand the history and philosophical principles behind it. They won’t likely take the time to read a 200 page book on the subject. They probably aren’t going to seek out the Tenth Amendment Center website and educate themselves. But they just might sit down and watch a relatively short, entertaining, visually interesting video.

Especially if you make it available to them!


A Scam’s Telling Success

According to multiple news reports, tens of thousands of Americans have fallen for a scam that’s being dubbed the “Obama utility bill scam.” The victims are told that a new Obama stimulus program will pay their utility bills. Fraudsters use the hook to get people to divulge their Social Security number and other personal information.…