The Department of Homeland Security is looking into requiring all airline passengers to wear a special bracelet that would allow the crew of a plane to cause an “electro-muscular disruption” (EMD) to immobilize disorderly passengers.
What about people with pacemakers? What about the small percentage of people with undiscovered conditions who may be killed by such a device? And who decides the sufficient level of disorderliness to justify the use of EMD? What about particularly paranoid airline crews? What happens if somebody is immobilized and mass hysteria breaks out among the paranoid passengers, who then beat the living daylights out of the immobilized person, causing severe injuries or even death? And if you’re worried about terrorists on airplanes, does this just invite them to figure out a way to immobilize people easily to avoid another one of those “Let’s roll” incidents?
As the legal threshold for government detainment and infliction of force against citizens seems to be falling, things like this do not bode well for freedom.
Three years ago, Congress gave Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff an unusual power to “waive all legal requirements” that could stand in the way of building the fence. These requirements included the nation’s environmental protection laws. The same congressional action took away the authority of judges to review Chertoff’s decisions.
Last year, after Chertoff waived at least 20 laws and regulations to complete a section of the fence in Arizona, two environmental groups sued. They said it was unconstitutional to give a Cabinet secretary such sweeping power.
But a federal judge rejected that claim. And on Monday the Supreme Court without comment declined to hear a petition submitted by Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club.
(Yes, I mentioned this once before.) When the Supreme Court denies certiorari, it doesn’t usually say why. At least a denial carries no precedential power, so if a more attractive version of the issue came before the Court, they might be interested in addressing it and telling Americans whether Congress has the power to give people like Michael Chertoff the power to break any laws he feels like.
Who would have thought that Americans would use the specter of “terrorism” to keep Mexicans out?