Thursday, April 06, 2006

Due Process - They Keep Trying to Kill It

Yet another sad, sad story about the state of our constitutional rights. Here's the opinion, in Longshoreman v. Dade County.

Miami-Dade County, without any individualized suspicion or hearings on individual cases, simply suspended the security cards of hundreds of dock workers due to generalized and vague fears raised by the Coast Guard. Post 9/11 hysteria.

The effect was to through these workers out of their jobs.

Longshoremen sued under section 1983. Circuit court dismissed - no protected property interest. Third District affirms. Finds not only that there is no property interest, but that a broad scale action like this is "legislative" and the only due process applies is ensuring that they passed the decision correctly.

We've sunk to a low respect for rights when the state can first impose the requirement that you hold a "permit" to work, then revoke it completely arbitrarily, with no individualized suspicion or hearing.

It's just wrong. It's inconsistent with any respectable and meaningful notion of due process. It almost certainly violates Article I, s. 9 of the constitution (which Florida courts have held to prevent arbitrary government action even in proprietary type situations). But there you go - big brother isn't just watching, he's putting his (jack) boot on your neck. And the courts are just sitting by and letting it happen.

Sad day for the constitution.

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