Showing Missouri

by

I come from a state that raises corn . . .and Democrats and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me.  I am from Missouri.  You have got to show me. Willard Duncan Vandiver, Speech at Naval Academy 1899.

In order to place things in perspective when looking at Missouri it helps to consider that there are worse things in that fair state than the Ferguson police department.  Consider the justices on its Supreme Court, the state legislature and, as they most recently demonstrated, its voters. The Justices on the Missouri Supreme Court have spent considerable time during the last few years on lawless excursions in the state’s death chambers. The Justices have repeatedly shown that they do not subscribe to the legal principles followed by most state courts.  The principles they ignore are those that require that executions of those on death row should not take place while the prospective beneficiaries of the process have appeals pending before federal courts requesting postponement of the event. In a thoughtful dissent in the 2014 case of Zink, Nicklasson et al vs. Lombardi Judge Herbert Bye, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, reviewed the Missouri Supreme Court’s unwillingness to defer to federal courts when it came to executions. In his dissent he wrote that: “Missouri has a well-documented history of attempting to execute death row inmates before the federal courts can determine the constitutionality of the executions.” He observed that among the court’s many wanderings through the death penalty process was the 1983 case of Doyle Williams.  The Missouri Supreme Court set a time for Mr. Williams to expire at the hands of the executioner before the time for Mr. Williams to appeal his conviction and death sentence had expired.  In staying the execution, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun explained to the Missouri Justices that legal protocol required that condemned criminals should not be killed by the state until all their federal appeals had been exhausted.  A few months later the Missouri Justices again set a date for executing four condemned men before the time for them to appeal had run and again Justice Blackmun admonished the Missouri Justices saying: “If Missouri fails to fulfill its responsibility, I shall fulfill mine.” The Missouri Justices who did not appreciate being admonished by a United States Supreme Court Justice ignored Justice Blackmun and continued in their free wheeling ways.  In January 2014 they permitted the executioner to execute Herbert Smulls 30 minutes before the U.S. Supreme Court had acted on Mr. Smulls’ request for a stay.  (The Justices were prescient-Mr. Smull’s request was turned down-after he was dead.)  It is not only the court that acts in ways that non-Missourians find difficult to understand. The legislature is a close second. In 2007 the Missouri legislature repealed a law that had been in effect for several years requiring would-be gun buyers to be vetted and licensed by a local sheriff prior to the purchase.  According to a report in the Journal of Urban Health following that law’s repeal there were an additional 60 gun-related murders in that state each year between 2008 and 2012.  In February 2014 the Missouri legislature considered another broad gun rights bill.  One of its provisions required that a gun owner report the theft of a firearm within 72 hours after discovering the theft.  The NRA believed that such a reporting provision implicated the 2d Amendment’s guarantees and at its urging, that provision was stripped from the bill.  Although the NRA’s rationale is not immediately obvious, it may well be that if a person reports to authorities that his or her gun has been stolen the person is admitting that he or she had a gun and that is clearly no one’s business and a violation of the reporter’s second amendment rights. The people of Missouri, of course, elect their legislators and a recent vote suggests they get what they deserve. On August 5, 2014 voters approved Amendment 5 to the Missouri Constitution by a 64% margin.  That amendment states that: “The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned.  The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable.  The state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement.” Michael Boldin, the Executive Director of the Tenth Amendment Center, said that the passage of the amendment was merely the first step in nullifying all federal gun laws and regulations in force in Missouri.  As he explained:  “Today was step one.  Step two is now.  Pass the 2d Amendment Preservation Act, banning state enforcement of every so-called federal gun law.  And from there, step three and four will be to bring gun control to an end in Missouri.” Missouri calls itself “The Show Me State.”  Someone should accept its invitation.  It needs all the help it can get. Christopher Brauchli is an attorney in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.  

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?