What happens when you take a landmark Supreme Court case concerning Chicago's ban on handgun ownership, then throw the 2nd Amendment and its meaning into the mix? This Personal Liberties Issue blast will cover that as well as new gay marriage laws, drug war violence and marijuana taxation and legalization.
But first, we'd like to know which Personal Liberty issue matters most to YOU. It's the subject of this month's HeadCount Community Question. Vote here:
Now, on with the update!
- A Chicago man is taking his fight to lift the city's 28-year old ban on handguns to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court members have suggested they will vote in favor of removing the ban after having heard arguments in early March. The outcome of this case could change gun control laws throughout the country, which is something Stephen Colbert, among others, would like to see. The outcome will decide how the 2nd Amendment is applied to state law. Because of this, support for lifting the handgun ban isn't only coming from right-wing NRA members. Liberals also hope that this decision will set a precedent expanding individual rights under the Bill of Rights to the state level.
- Washington, D.C. is licensing same-sex marriages after the Supreme Court refused to block D.C.'s gay marriage law. Couples were lined up outside the D.C. courthouse as early as 6 am on March 3 waiting to get their marriage licenses. By the end of the first day 151 couples had filed to be married!
- Wal-Mart fired a Michigan employee who tested positive for marijuana. Joseph Casias suffers from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor. He legally uses marijuana to treat pain under Michigan's medical marijuana law. Ironically, Wal-Mart previously honored Casias as Associate of the Year. The Marijuana Policy Project has organized a boycott of Wal-Mart until they stop "discriminating against the legal use of medical marijuana by employees."
- The recent murders of three people linked to the U.S. Consulate in Mexico are drawing more attention to drug war violence on the U.S. Border. The U.S. is expected to finalize a new anti-drug strategy to aid Mexico but it's unlikely to include any proposals for drug legalization. Top Mexican officials and three former Latin American presidents suggested that legalization would both weaken Mexico's powerful drug cartels and that America's long-standing marijuana prohibition may be the root of the problem.
- A marijuana legalization initiative has gathered enough signatures to appear on California's November ballot. Voters will have the opportunity to decide if pot should be legalized and taxed, as is the case with alcohol. The bill would allow California adults 21 and over to purchase taxed marijuana and grow their own for recreational use - not the medical marijuana that South Park's Cartman fears will replace his fried chicken. With California facing a $20 billion deficit, advocates of the initiative are touting the economic benefits from taxing marijuana and a 2009 poll found that 56% of voters support the move.
Let me leave you with a little Warren Zevon to get you thinking even more about the intersection of government and our personal liberty.
If you're feeling passionate about any of these issues, email your Senators and Congressional reps and let them know how you feel. Don't forget that you can easily stay posted by following HeadCount's daily headlines on Twitter or by checking out our Personal Liberty Issue page. Also, take a look at our blog (or write for it).