Matt Evans: A Tough Week For Individual Rights In The North Dakota Legislature

SB2279 passed the senate.  This is called the anti-discrimination bill.  Of course, that’s not what it actually is.  What passage of the bill actually does is to further erode the rights of private individuals who own small businesses to decide who they will or will not serve.  There is the pre-existing human right of freedom to associate (and NOT associate) with whomever one pleases, for whatever reasons one pleases.  That right is protected in the US constitution.  There is no counteracting right to “receive the kind of customer service you deeply desire, from any business at any time, no matter who you are or how you act”.  Some people wish there were, and indeed, 100% of the arguments I’ve heard for SB2279 boil down to believing in this false idea.  It seems people need to read my bit on negative and positive rights, because the Senate got this one wrong.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]It’s disappointing that these votes went the way they did.  However, a silver lining is that none of the votes were slam dunks.  There have been a number of unanimous votes this session; contrastingly, none of the bills above were unanimous.[/mks_pullquote]

HB1084, the bill to ban DUI checkpoints, failed the house.  DUI checkpoints are a violation of the 4th amendment, which prohibits general warrants and prohibits warrantless searches.  However, the US Supreme Court ruled in Michigan Department of State Police vs. Sitz that the government’s interest in reducing drunk driving was more important than the “negligible” impact on 4th amendment rights.

Although the US Supreme Court currently says that DUI checkpoints are legally allowable, our state government is under no obligation to continue using them.  HB1084 would have given North Dakotans the opportunity to tell our law enforcement community that we prefer to be treated as innocent until proven guilty, even when behind the wheel.  Our House of Representatives neglected to stand up for us here.

HB1430 would legalize, regulate, and control cannabis or “medical marijuana” for medical use within the state of North Dakota.  This bill failed the house.  The bill was well written and thorough.  As I read through it, I found only one provision I disagreed with (the bill proposed that a landlord couldn’t use someone’s status as a medical marijuana user as a basis to evict or deny housing – my position here is principled.  Just like I didn’t like SB2279 eroding that right of landlords and business owners, I wouldn’t want HB1430 to erode that right either).  Other states have had medical marijuana programs for a few years and there has not been an outbreak of insurmountable legal or social problems, so fear-mongering about this bill seems pretty hollow to me.

I know a handful of people who have painful symptoms that can be fully or partially alleviated by the careful use marijuana, and for whom the currently allowable medical treatments – many of which are known to be harmful and addictive to humans — are no longer effective.

The failure of HB1430 amounts to our legislature telling people they cannot take reasonable measures to try and alleviate their own suffering – even under the full supervision of their doctors.  This is not a compassionate position.  This is not something we should be proud of.

It’s disappointing that these votes went the way they did.  However, a silver lining is that none of the votes were slam dunks.  There have been a number of unanimous votes this session; contrastingly, none of the bills above were unanimous.  None of the votes were especially close, but in each case there was a relevant minority that voted against the majority.  Additionally, the votes didn’t skew along party lines for any of the three bills.

I’m choosing to conclude that there is a growing minority in the legislature that is willing to vote for individual liberty, and this minority can straddle partisanship.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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