Once a crime warrior, always a crime warrior. President Joe Biden yesterday urged state officials to throw more money at U.S. cops. But with the drug war falling (at least somewhat) out of fashion, Biden has had to get creative about how to ramp up federal funds for local policing. Will using a perennial progressive target—guns—and money meant to combat COVID-19 do the trick?
The administration apparently hopes so. At a Wednesday press conference, Biden told state and local leaders that they could use money provided to them as part of the pandemic relief package to fund more police officers and hours.
"We're now providing more guidance on how [state and local governments] can use the $350 billion nationally that the American Rescue Plan has available to help reduce crime and address the root causes," said Biden. "For example, cities experiencing an increase in gun violence were able to use the American Rescue Plan dollars to hire police officers needed for community policing and to pay their overtime."
Biden has always been a Tough on Crime guy, spending much of the '80s and '90s spearheading congressional efforts to create new federal crimes, ramp up punishments for drug offenses, provide more resources to police and prosecutors, and generally find new ways to spend more federal funds on putting people behind bars. This is what made conservative fearmongering during the 2020 election about Biden being some radical "defund the police" type especially laughable.
To combat gun violence and violent crime, we're going to:
- Stem the flow of firearms
- Advance community policing
- Invest in evidence-based community violence interventions
- Expand summer programming and employment opportunities
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 23, 2021
Throughout his career, Biden has specialized in using social justice and progressive causes to push conservative and reactionary law enforcement responses. He's frequently capitalized on moral panics to procure more funding for police and prosecutors. Still, some on the left inexplicably hoped he might actually be a changed man, caught up in the zeitgeist around criminal justice reform, ending mass incarceration, and giving police fewer opportunities to commit abuse.
That Biden wants to take some of the massive spending approved as pandemic relief and funnel it to cops only shows how sadly mistaken they were.
The American Rescue Plan "means more police officers, more nurses, more counselors, more social workers, more community violence interrupters to help resolve issues before they escalate into crimes," said Biden at yesterday's press conference, during which he also announced new plans to police guns.
Biden's plan to "combat the epidemic of gun violence" follows the playbook of the War on Drugs and if you think this is going to actually meaningfully reduce gun violence instead of serve as a means to funnel more people into the prison industrial complex you're a fucking fool.
— Your Friendly Butch Anarchist (@butchanarchy) June 23, 2021
First Amendment rights prevail in cheerleader Snapchat rant case. In Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., decided yesterday by the U.S. Supreme Court, justices held 8–1 that the school district had no right to punish a high school student for using profanity on the app Snapchat after she failed to make the cheerleading squad. "Fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything," the student—known in court filings by the initials B.L.—wrote. More from Reason's Damon Root:
"It might be tempting to dismiss [the cheerleader's] words as unworthy of…robust First Amendment protections," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority. "But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary."
The matter of Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. originated with these words: "Fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything." They were posted to Snapchat on a Saturday night and were accompanied by a picture of B.L. (known by her initials in court filings because she was a minor at the time) and a friend with their middle fingers raised. To say the least, B.L.'s cheerleading coaches did not like that post when it was later brought to their attention. As punishment for it, B.L. was suspended from the junior varsity cheerleading team for a full year. The question before the Supreme Court was whether school officials may punish her for this off-campus speech.
Supreme Court rules against intrusive unions. The Court yesterday issued an opinion in a case concerning whether union organizers could enter a company's property against the company's wishes in order to talk to employees about unionizing. It was filed by a California strawberry farming business. In a 6–3 opinion, the Court sided with the company, "finding that the government unconstitutionally took the growers' property right to say 'get off my lawn,'" as the National Review's Dan McLaughlin puts it.
Under current California regulations, union organizers have "a right to physically enter and occupy the growers' land for three hours per day, 120 days per year," noted the court. "Rather than restraining the growers' use of their own property, the regulation appropriates for the enjoyment of third parties the owners' right to exclude. The right to exclude is 'one of the most treasured' rights of property ownership."
"Today's ruling is a huge victory for property rights. The decision affirms that one of the most fundamental aspects of property is the right to decide who can and can't access your property." @JPTizzle https://t.co/f9g6xJT51M
— Pacific Legal ????⚖️ (@PacificLegal) June 23, 2021
• Democrats and Republicans in Congress are reportedly close to reaching a deal on another massive spending measure, this one done under the mantle of infrastructure.
• Arvada, Colorado, Police Chief Link Strate described John Hurley—who interrupted a Denver-area shooting—as "a true hero who likely disrupted what could have been a larger loss of life." Arvada police also killed him.
• The diversity, equity, and inclusion "industry is accordingly doing well, but is it doing any good?" Phoebe Maltz Bovy of The Signal and Zaid Jilani discuss.
• Yet another "human trafficking sting" where the only people arrested are a few men attempting to pay for sex.
• Inside the battle over the soul of the Libertarian Party.
• A new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute asks, "What is the solution to social media content moderation failures?"
• Ammon Bundy is running for governor of Idaho on a platform of cutting almost all taxes and ending incarceration for nonviolent crime.
• "Seven cops swarmed the home of an Alabama mom charged with the dastardly crime of taking a painkiller prescribed by her doctor while she was pregnant with her son—who, by the way, is perfectly fine and now eight-months-old." Lenore Skenazy with more on the story.
• Anti–sex work advocates continue trying to rebrand the discredited "Nordic Model" of policing sex work (in which people who pay for sex are criminalized but offering sex for pay is not) as the "Equality Model":
see this is what we call Rescue Industry propaganda. https://t.co/aaMDPHbdus
— Mistress Matisse (@mistressmatisse) June 24, 2021
• A win for due process at the Supreme Court.