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It was suspicious enough when Stewart Cathey was arrested and handcuffed for a six-year-old seat belt violation exactly a month before the 2015 primary election for State Senate. But taken with events that have transpired with Louisiana State Police (LSP) and the agency’s former superintendent since that time, it seems less and less likely to have been mere coincidence.

Incumbent State Sen. Bob Kostelka (R-Monroe) was term-limited in 2015. Three-term Rep. Jim Fannin, a Jonesboro Democrat-turned-Republican, then serving as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was also term-limited and looking to move to the upper chamber.

Cathey, a Monroe native, a graduate of the University of Louisiana Monroe, and managing partner of the Cathey Group, an information technology management consulting firm in Monroe, also had his eye on the District 35 Senate seat. The district includes all or parts of the parishes of Rapides, Grant, Winn, Ouachita, Lincoln, and Jackson.

A captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, the Republican Cathey had received a ticket for a seat belt violation in 2009 but soon after was deployed to Afghanistan where he managed more than $250 million in infrastructure development projects and, he says, he forgot about the ticket.

Fast forward to the 2015 campaign. Fannin, endorsed by Kostelka and a heavy favorite for the Senate, is pressed by the upstart Cathey. They are only a few percentage points apart when Cathey was arrested and HANDCUFFED on a bench warrant issued by Monroe City Judge Tammy D. Lee.

His arrest was on Sept. 24, exactly one month before the primary election. Cathey said he attempted to pay the ticket, if belatedly, but was denied the opportunity. He said he was told he would have to turn himself in, be arrested and bonded out. Quite naturally, considering the timing and all, Cathey quite naturally suspected that mischief was afoot.

“This is the ugly side of politics,” he said. “Career politicians will stop at nothing to get back to the good old boys’ club in Baton Rouge. This is nothing new to Jim Fannin and Bob Kostelka and their team. I’ve seen them do it in the past.”

But Kostelka, who retired as a state district judge before his own election to the District 35 seat back in 2007, was quick with a sincere “Who, me?” denial, saying he had “no control over Monroe City Court or Judge Lee.”

Fannin subsequently defeated Cathey by 6 percentage points to take the election.

Granted, all that has been written here to this point is old news that got plenty of ink at the time. The story might well have ended there had not Cathey gone one step further with something called a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, better known in Louisiana simply as the garden variety public records request.

And that’s where the questions regarding actions by LSP, certain other unknown municipal and/or parish law enforcement agencies, and former LSP Superintendent Mike Edmonson come in.

On October 12, 2015, just 12 days before the primary election, Cathey submitted a public records request to State Police Lt. J.B. Slaton in which he requested:

  • Any and all emails with regards to the account: stacey.barrett@la.gov from September 28, 2015 through October 10, 2015.
  • Any and all emails, memos, or other writings discussing the findings from a Background Audit performed between September 28, 2015 and October 10, 2015 into the searches of Stewart Cathey, Jr.’s driving record as well as searches into the NCIC system for Stewart Cathey, Jr.’s record.

(LouisianaVoice has copies of Cathey’s request and the LSP response but because some of Cathey’s personal information is included on both documents, it was decided not to display copies of either.)

On Oct. 21, three days before the primary, LSP attorney Adrienne E. Aucoin responded—somewhat.

After recapping his request, Aucoin said any such searches on the Louisiana Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (LLETS) are privileged, “which exempts from the public view” records collected and maintained by the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information (LBCII).

A spokesperson for the LSP Legal Department explained to LouisianaVoice that it was LSP policy not to release information on searches. She implied there was usually a good reason for someone checking to see if they were being investigated. She said releasing such information could alert a suspect to an otherwise confidential ongoing investigation of criminal activity. “We would thank them for the tip, though,” she said.

Aucoin’s letter went on to say, “Attached hereto, please find emails that are responsive to your request. Please note that a section of these emails has been redacted. The redacted information pertains to records maintained by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information.”

(NOTE: The email chain below begins with the most recent communication and reads backward to the earliest. The text of the messages also makes it obvious that Cathey initiated his inquiries about the background checks almost a month before his formal FOIA request.)

 

The email chain started with a message at 9:59 a.m. on Sept. 28 to criminal records analyst Shelley Scott from Capt. Stacey Barrett of LSP Technical Support Services:

“Stewart Cathey, Jr. is running for a Senate seat in north Louisiana. He was arrested on 09/24/15 on a 6-year-old seat belt warrant. It was a highly publicized event. He called because he suspects the S.O. (sheriff’s office) is running his record without cause. Please run an off-line search from 1.1.15 through today.

“I told Mr. Cathey that we would not release any results to him. If we find what may be inappropriate use of LLETS, we would deal with the agency and the officer directly. Let me know what you find.”

Maj. Jason Starnes and LSP Lt. Chris Eskew were also copied on that email.

At 4:06 p.m. that same day, Scott emailed Barrett, Starnes, and Eskew:

“Attached are the requested LLETS off-line results on Stewart. The below table shows the Cliff’s (sic) Notes version.”

What followed was the “section” alluded to by Aucoin as redacted. The redacted portion was a transaction history for a six-month period comprising about three-quarters of a page and containing 20 redacted lines which appeared to represent background searches or requests for same.

At 12:45 p.m. on Sept. 30, Barrett wrote to Scott, Starnes, and Eskew:

“As discussed, we will wait for further direction from the chain of command before taking any action. Please hold on to (sic) all of the documentation you ran for this search.”

At 3:19 p.m., Starnes responded to Barrett:

“Please proceed with following our policy and protocol regarding the LLETS search inquiries and send the letters we discussed.”

Finally, at 3:45 p.m., also on Sept. 30, Barrett emailed Scott and Eskew:

“Please prepare the standard letters seeking justification for the (redacted) transactions. Please keep us posted and let us know if you need assistance or guidance.”

The cryptic nature of the email communications is curious since routine public records requests do not normally attract such attention up and down the chain of command.

The timing of Cathey’s arrest, the reported discipline of an Alexandria municipal police officer for running a background check on Cathey, and the LSP emails and redacted reports, taken together, would seem to indicate there was some legitimacy to Cathey’s suspicions that someone deliberately sought to undermine his election campaign by initiating widespread background checks and even his arrest—complete with handcuffs—for an otherwise minor offense.

To add icing on the proverbial cake, Cathey said on Monday, Oct. 26, just two days after the Oct. 24 election, he was contacted by Monroe City Court and informed the charges against him for the seat belt violation were being dropped. He also said an investigation begun by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was abruptly shut down with no explanation given.

No disrespect to the late Gertrude Stein, but there certainly appears to be a there there.

Edmonson had a reputation during his nine years at the helm of LSP as one who would dole out favors to legislators in efforts to ingratiate himself to lawmakers. A relay by state troopers to deliver football tickets to a legislator in New Orleans for an LSU national championship football game when she accidentally left her tickets in Shreveport is one example of that mindset.

Ordering background checks by LSP and/or requesting checks by other law enforcement agencies could be another example.

When contacted by LouisianaVoice about the possibility of an investigation into whether or not Edmonson had taken such action, Public Information Officer Doug Cain said unless a formal complaint was lodged by Cathey, LSP would not initiate an investigation.

After the OIG investigation was suddenly terminated, Cathey did not follow up with a formal complaint to LSP.

He is currently deployed to Puerto Rico where his unit is working on hurricane relief.

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It’s now been 20 months since that 17-year-old girl was RAPED twice in a jail cell in the Union Parish Detention Center in April 2016 and there still has been no resolution to the ongoing investigation by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

Because the detention center is administered by a committee that includes the local district attorney, he properly recused himself and the case was turned over to the attorney general for investigation.

To refresh, the girl was brought to the detention center after being found high on meth. Demarcus Shavez Peyton, 28, of Homer, was being held in the center awaiting a scheduled sentencing for his conviction of aggravated rape.

Sometime on the night of April 19, he was released from his cell and he entered the girl’s cell and raped her twice.

So, what’s to investigate? The victim is known. The perpetrator is known. The date is known. The location, a tiny, restricted jail cell, is known. It just doesn’t make sense that the “investigation” is taking so long when Landry is so quick to jump on every decision or action of Gov. John Bel Edwards.

It seems from my perspective that Landry is spending more time and energy on watching every move of Edwards and preparing his own run for governor rather than concentrating on his own job duties.

For that reason, I started making monthly checks into the progress of the investigation. Here’s one response to my first inquiry from his press secretary:

From: Wisher, Ruth [mailto:WisherR@ag.louisiana.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2017 11:25 AM
To: ‘Tom Aswell’ <azspeak@cox.net>
Subject: RE: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST

Mr. Tom,

 This matter is under investigation, therefore I cannot comment on the specifics or answer questions at this time.  

That has been the consistent response to my monthly update request, including the latest:

From: AG Landry News
Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 10:02 AM
To: Tom Aswell
Subject: RE: FOLLOW UP: STATUS

Good morning,

This is an ongoing investigation therefore I cannot comment on any specifics.

And that’s not the only case of Landry’s foot-dragging on cases other than the low-hanging fruit he seizes upon for his regular press releases to display his tough on crime stance.

When an employee of the DeSoto Parish district attorney’s office cashed more 580 money orders at the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office—money orders that amounted to something on the order of $130,000—the district attorney recused himself from the investigation on the basis of his being the victim of the theft. Accordingly, he called upon the attorney general’s office to conduct the investigation.

That was in February 2014, during the administration of Landry’s predecessor, Buddy Caldwell, the singing attorney general. Caldwell’s record was no better than Landry’s but when Landry came into office, the case continued to languish with neither attorney general ever filing any documents with the court.

The employee worked in the district attorney’s worthless checks and diversion programs, responsible for overseeing the case files, accepting payments from defendants, and recording receipts of payments.

A federal grand jury finally indicted her, charging than when she would direct defendants to pay with money orders with the recipient’s and remitter’s names left blank. She would then accept money orders for payments. Instead of recording the payment, she would notate the cases nolle pros, or charges rejected and then enter her name as the payee and cash the money orders at the sheriff’s office.

But Caldwell apparently was too busy with his Elvis impersonations and Landry was too involved in grinding out his daily press releases to burnish his reputation as a modern-day Marshall Dillon to waste time on remote parishes like DeSoto and Union.

Let’s face it: A felon in DeSoto Parish and a teenage meth addict rape victim in Union Parish aren’t likely to generate much sympathy or many votes in his run for governor.

A man trying to establish a reputation as a straight-shootin’, straight-talkin’ tough-on-crime politician still has to be pragmatic, after all.

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New Orleans native Donna Brazile has created quite a stir over her new book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House. But her description of the infighting in the national Democratic Party is mirrored at least in part on a local scale by what has been transpiring in the Louisiana Democratic Party since State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson ousted Buddy Leach as State Chairman in 2012.

Brazile, in her book, described how candidate Hillary Clinton took over the Democratic National Committee’s funding during the primary season while still competing with Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for President. By gaining control of the party’s finances, Brazile said, Clinton effectively rigged the process to kill whatever chance Sanders may have had to win the nomination.

But paralleling the infighting that developed between followers of Hillary and Sanders, the Louisiana Democratic Party appears to have fallen into its own state of considerable disarray on Peterson’s watch. And its problems, like that of the DNC, can be traced back to money and power.

Back room deals, endorsements, and questionable expenditures in the recent campaign for state treasurer have raised a number of questions. For example:

  • Is State Sen. Neil Riser truly a Republican?
  • If so, why did he lavish money on traditionally Democratic organizations like the Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD), THE New Orleans East Leadership PAC, New Orleans East Leadership PAC, Louisiana Independent Federation of Electors, Algiers PAC, Jefferson United, and Treme Improvement Political Society in his campaign for state treasurer?
  • Are the aforementioned actually Democratic organizations or are they simply a means to raising money in exchange for the endorsement of the highest bidder?
  • If they are Democratic organizations, why didn’t they endorse Democrat Derrick Edwards in the first primary instead of waiting until Riser lost—he finished dead last among the four major candidates—to direct their support to Edwards?

BOLD’s open bidding policy pre-dates Peterson. In 2003, the organization endorsed Bobby Jindal over Kathleen Blanco for governor. Of course, that was after Jindal paid BOLD $10,000 for “consulting and printing.”

During his campaign, Riser’s expenditures included $15,000 to BOLD for printing (BOLD, which Peterson’s dad, Ken Carter, co-founded, subsequently listed Riser at the top of its sample ballots), $14.500 in two contributions to New Orleans East Leadership PAC, a $10,000 contribution to the Louisiana Independent Federation of Electors, $6,000 to Algiers PAC for printing, $5,000 to Jefferson United for undetermined expenses, $5,000 to Treme Improvement Political Society.

But the treasurer’s race is merely symptomatic of a far greater problem within the State Democratic Party.

One of Peterson’s first acts as the new State Chairperson in 2012 was to nullify all parish executive committee appointments made during Leach’s tenure. And it’s been downhill ever since.

In an organization that is perpetually financially strapped, the Executive Committee, once stacked with her appointees, awarded her an annual stipend of $36,000 plus expenses. This was done without the approval of the Democratic State Central Committee, most of whom were unaware of the stipend. She has continued taking the money in her second term, again without approval.

Stephen Handwerk, Executive Director of the State Democratic Party, pulls down nearly $100,000 in salary but he has been reluctant to make use of an available database to identify and engage Democratic voters, claiming he has insufficient staff to do so. Yet, he found the time to take a second salaried job with the Democratic National Committee, according to DNC expense reports.

Peterson also has made it a point to take care of family in her role as chairperson. Her sister, Eileen Carter, of Houma, was paid $13,000 during October and November 2015 for “organizational/grassroots consultation,” according to figures provided by the Louisiana Ethics Commission.

Other payments made by the Louisiana Democratic Party under Peterson include:

  • Twelve payments of $600 each to the Chicken Shack of Baton Rouge for party card distribution and catering. Chicken Shack is a business owned by former State Sen. Joe Delpit of Baton Rouge.
  • Four separate payments of $900 each to J&M Transportation of Slidell for state party card distribution. J&M is a limousine service.

Peterson denies being among the three prominent Democrats (including then-Sen. Mary Landrieu) who met with then-State. Rep. John Bel Edwards at New Orleans International Airport in 2015 and tried to convince him to withdraw from the governor’s race so that a moderate Republican might be elected. Landrieu has since apologized for her part in that effort but Peterson has not.

Peterson also threw up roadblocks to the State Democratic Party’s official endorsement of Derrick Edwards (no relation to Gov. John Bel Edwards) for treasurer until after the first primary, in which Edwards led all candidates as the only Democrat in the race.

According to the State Democratic Party’s by-laws, “The Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) shall conduct such activities, as it deems appropriate to elect Democratic candidates in national, state and local elections.”

Yet, there was Republican Riser’s name at the top of BOLD’s sample ballots which most likely accounts for Peterson’s reluctance to endorse Edwards at the outset.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, despite Peterson’s attempt to get him to drop out of the gubernatorial race, has been loath to support a replacement for her for fear of alienating the Legislative Black Caucus.

But the biggest concern to several Democratic Parish Executive Committee (DPEC) members is the lack of membership on no fewer than 29 parish executive committees, a condition critics attribute to Peterson’s lack of timely appointments.

“There are 29 parishes which have five or fewer members on their committee,” one DPEC member said. “There should be at least 15 members of each parish executive committee. That’s nearly half the state that has non-existent or non-functioning DPECs. Livingston Parish has only seven of 15 seats filled. One member of the Livingston DPEC has been working since February to get the seats filled but that still hasn’t been done even though names have been submitted.”

And nearly two years into Peterson’s second term as state chairperson, there are 33 DSCC vacancies. “If she fills positions at all, it’s usually with her minions,” one DSCC member said.

Parishes with one or more vacancies in DSCC representation include Caddo, Bossier, DeSoto, Sabine, Lincoln, Union, Ouachita, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana, Caldwell, Catahoula, Franklin, LaSalle, Tensas, Concordia, East Carroll, Madison, Tensas, Rapides, Lafayette, Vermilion, Calcasieu, Acadia, Iberia, St. Martin, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Washington, St. Tammany, and Jefferson.

Meanwhile, Peterson in March of this year managed to get herself elected to the DNC as Vice Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Participation. “How ironic is that?” the DSCC member asked.

“Karen Carter Peterson is an ambitious politician of questionable loyalties who has used her chairmanship of DSCC to build a fiefdom and to launch a national career, all at the expense of the organization she was elected to build and serve,” the DSCC member said.

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An interesting scenario is playing out up in Bossier Parish that could impact the landscape in the 2019 state elections and the 2020 congressional elections with key players being U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson and Bossier Parish Superintendent of Schools Scott Smith.

Back in 2015, there was an uproar over students’ plans to install “prayer boxes” at Airline High School in Bossier City. While the controversy died down rather quickly, it provided a window for then-State Rep. to lead the fight against the ALCU right on into Congress.

Today, the dispute is between the Bossier Parish School Board and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State over last May’s Benton High School graduation ceremonies that opened and ended with prayers and Smith is right in the middle of the controversy.

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/education/2017/09/25/bossier-schools-respond-complaint-graduation-prayers/699983001/

Cynics are asking, “Why Bossier?” and “Why now?”

The scuttlebutt, when plotted out, makes good political sense and a couple of comments from Smith’s wife, former State Rep. Jane Smith only serve to validate the rumors.

But first some background:

During Johnson’s time in the State Legislature, he authored House Bill 707, known as the MARRIAGE and CONSCIENCE ACT, which would have prohibited the state from denying any resident, nonprofit or business a license, benefits or tax deductions if the business took actions “in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction” about marriage.

Critics said the bill had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with discrimination against same-sex marriage and the bill died in committee only to have Bobby Jindal promptly issue an executive order to enforce the intent of Johnson’s bill—a similar one of which had already been struck down in Kentucky by the courts.

JANE SMITH, a former Bossier Parish School Superintendent in her own right who was in her third term and term-limited by the Louisiana Constitution, was appointed by Jindal in 2012 as deputy secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue even though, as she admitted to a friend, she knew “nothing about revenue.”

So, what to make of all this?

Well, word is that Johnson has his eyes on bigger and better things than being a lonely voice among 435 members of the U.S. House.

Governor?

Nope. That plum belongs to U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, presently a not-so-lonely down-home voice among 100. It’s the worst-kept secret in Louisiana that Kennedy wants desperately to challenge Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2019.

The plan, according to some observers is for Johnson to run either for lieutenant governor or attorney general. Barring entry by any other candidates in those two races, we would be left with the less-than-desirable choice between Johnson and Billy Nungesser or Johnson and Jeff Landry.

Should that scenario play itself out and should Johnson be elected to one of those statewide posts, that would leave the door wide open for Scott Smith, who those same observers in northwest Louisiana, is already being groomed to run for Johnson’s vacated seat in a special election in early 2020. Johnson is tight with Landry but if Landry opts for a run at higher office, Johnson may feel the job is his by divine right. At any rate, speculation is the deal has already been cut.

Far-fetched? Perhaps not so much. The information making its way down to LouisianaVoice is that Jane Smith is already telling close friends that she has accepted a lobbying job in Washington.

All we can say for certain in all of this is anytime a politician waves a Bible while wrapped in the flag, little good can come from it. Sanctimony is not a trait becoming to anyone.

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U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, himself the victim of an unhinged would-be mass killer, says the Second Amendment means the rights to bear arms is “unlimited.”

I respectfully disagree. (Full disclosure: I own a lever-action .22 rifle I inherited from my grandfather and two handguns. I don’t hunt and I fervently hope I never have occasion to use those weapons. And I don’t harbor irrational fears that someone is coming to take them from me.)

Whenever there is a mass shooting like the one in Las Vegas, there are three things of which we can be certain:

  • There will be renewed calls to address the problem of the easy accessibility to guns, especially automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
  • There will be those members of Congress (and the occasional POTUS), the beneficiaries of large campaign contributions by the NRA who will say, “Now is not the time for that discussion.”
  • There will be those, mainly gun owners steeped in the indoctrination that people will be coming for their guns, who will pose the not-so-rhetorical question, “Why is it when a horrible incident like Las Vegas, certain people start hammering gun control?” (That was a question actually asked in the comment section of a recent LouisianaVoice post.)

Taking the reader’s question first, my response would be because that’s when the image of the carnage brought by these weapons is the freshest on our minds. It’s because politicians are obligated to regurgitate the cliche that they are “praying for the victims” (when most of them haven’t bother to pray in years, if ever, and, truth be known, won’t now) and we are obligated to sigh and shake our heads and ask why this keeps happening and why isn’t something done to keep guns away from these people before our attention is again diverted to LSU and Saints football.

As for that second certainty, I would pose my own question: When the hell is “the right time,” you imbecile? What is your idea of a “right time”—when the outrage has subsided and we return to our daily routines like so many sheep while you continue taking campaign cash from the NRA?

If that is what you consider the “right time,” then I suggest the “right time” has come for you to resign from Congress and enlist in the military so that you can deploy to some hot spot on the planet that you, as a member of Congress, have deemed important to U.S. interests so you can get your ass shot off defending some vague concept of Liberty and the American Way which I suspect is little more than protecting the financial well-being of war profiteers—big oil, weapons and military aircraft manufacturers, and those companies who move in afterwards to “rebuild” with their contract cost overruns of $100,000 a week like a certain Baton Rouge firm with a contract to help rebuild Iraq.

Speaking of defending America from aggression, has it occurred to anyone else that we didn’t really have much of a terrorist threat in this country until we started sticking our collective noses into the affairs of other countries? Have we, in our indignation of Russia’s interference in our election, ever tallied up the number of elections in other countries that we have interfered in? A hint: the number is more than 80, including places like Central America, South America, Africa, Iraq, Iran, France, Italy and even Israel. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-us-intervention-foreign-elections-20161213-story.html

Try defending America’s honor with statistics like that. Try coming to terms with those facts while popping a blood vessel over some jock kneeling during the National Anthem.

That’s why I was just a little astonished at Scalise’s erroneous interpretation of the Second Amendment. But it is consistent with his political viewpoint and those of his constituents who, incidentally, are the same ones who once elected white supremacist David Duke to the Louisiana Legislature and who elected Bobby Jindal to Congress from the same First Congressional District that Scalise now represents.

Scalise was on Meet the Press Sunday morning when host Chuck Todd asked him about his view on gun laws after the Las Vegas shootings. Instead of answering Todd’s question, Scalise gave the usual B.S. political two-step, saying the focus should be on “the amount of people across the country who over the course of a day or week or month use guns to protect themselves against criminals.”

Huh? But…but, Congressman, did those people at that concert in Las Vegas have an opportunity to defend themselves against the assailant’s automatic weapons? A handgun wouldn’t have been much help in that situation, now would it?

Todd then asked, “Is the right to bear arms unlimited or is there a limit?”

“The Second Amendment really predates the Bill of Rights,” Scalise responded, as if that was an answer to the question. A do-si-do to go with the two-step.

Todd pressed on. “But is it unlimited?”

Incredulously, Scalise finally said, “It is.” (Click HERE to see the interview.)

Okay, I’ll give him that the U.S. Supreme Court said in 2008 in the District of Columbia v. Heller ruling that the Second Amendment “codified a pre-existing right” and that it “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with the service in a militia.”

That was Scalise’s apparent reference to the right to bear arms predating the Bill of Rights. But Scalise did not quote the rest of that opinion, which said:

  • “The right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Bingo. Or should that be touché?

Let’s return to Scalise’s contention that the Second Amendment gives unlimited rights to bear arms.

First of all, I thought Scalise was a conservative but that’s a pretty damned liberal interpretation of the Second Amendment.

But let’s assume for a moment that he’s correct.

Carrying that logic to its natural conclusion, a most liberal interpretation would have to be applied to all the other amendments. Thus, we would have an “unlimited” right to say and write anything we want about anyone at any time simply because the First Amendment gives us unlimited rights to speech and press.

I could, for example, write that Scalise once had a romantic relationship with a nanny goat but had to break it off when his donkey got jealous. Now, is that true? Probably not. I don’t think he owns a donkey. But the by God First Amendment gives me unlimited rights to say and write that.

And if someone wanted to practice a religion that called for its adherents to slaughter all red-haired, left-handed men with big feet by beating them to death with a badminton racket, then the First Amendment gives me unlimited religious freedom so there’s not a thing anyone can do about it.

And if that same religious leader and all his followers wished to hold a parade through downtown Baton Rouge to display the racket-mutilated carcass, then hey, no parade permits need be obtained because the First Amendment gives them the unlimited right to free assembly.

No, Congressman, the Second Amendment does not give unlimited rights. But I know you, like most of your contemporaries in both the House and Senate long ago sold your souls to the NRA, so you are obligated to stick to the game plan despite your own tragic near-death experience with a deranged sociopath who happened to get his hands on a semi-automatic weapon.

And I understand your reluctance to talk about legislation making it more difficult for these people to obtain weapons.

Now is just not the time to discuss it.

 

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