At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal…
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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

Liberty Update

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No, "Stop and Frisk" Isn't Unconstitutional Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, September 29 2016
The public understands that proactive policing via such methods as stop and frisk has saved untold thousands of lives and fully squares with the Constitution, partisan claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

In alarming news this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that murders in the United States soared an astonishing 10.8% just last year. 

That same day, "stop and frisk" and similar police techniques achieved sudden prominence after Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton clashed during their first debate. 

To her discredit, Clinton maligned what she labeled the "systemic racism" and "implicit bias" of American society and our criminal justice system, and she crudely suggested that stop and frisk is unconstitutional.  In reality, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has approved stop and frisk tactics for almost 50 years, and the intensifying drumbeat of demonizing police is creating a "Ferguson Effect" with increasingly obvious consequences. 

Fortunately, public opinion surveys reveal that Americans support stop and frisk techniques, and side overwhelmingly with police officers as opposed to those like Clinton who malign them.  Whether they ultimately judge political candidates accordingly is another question. 

First, to the new FBI murder statistics. 

Although the public remains largely unaware, the U.S. murder rate plummeted by approximately 50% over the past 25 years.  That stands among the greatest sociological achievements in our nation's history, and illustrates the effectiveness of tougher sentencing laws and more vigilant policing tactics in the aftermath of skyrocketing crime rates between 1965 and 1990.  In New York City alone, more vigorous stop and frisk and other proactive policing techniques beginning with Mayor Rudy Giuliani precipitated the sharpest murder rate decline in recorded history. 

Unfortunately, events since the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri riots threaten to reverse our two decades of progress.  Over the past two years, police have become increasingly reluctant to interrupt potential criminal activity, confront likely criminals whose paths they cross and employ the vigorous policing tactics that proved so beneficial.  As a result, we witnessed an 11% increase in murders last year, the largest one-year surge in half a century. 

If the "Ferguson Effect" doesn't explain that frightening increase, then what does? 

After all, it's not as though some of the rationalizations offered by people like Hillary Clinton and the political left, such as poverty or distrust of police in inner cities, suddenly emerged in 2015.  What did suddenly change was the demonization and outright assaults against police in cities across America since Ferguson. 

As for stop and frisk specifically, the claim that it's unconstitutional is simply false. 

The Supreme Court directly resolved the question in the seminal Terry v. Ohio decision in 1968.  There, the Court held that police possess authority to briefly stop and investigate a person even if probable cause to arrest doesn't yet exist.  Rather, police must merely possess a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based upon articulable facts.  Where reasonable suspicion exists that the stopped person may be armed and dangerous, they can conduct a frisk for weapons as well. 

Over the decades following Terry, the Supreme Court repeatedly affirmed the constitutionality of stop and frisk tactics.  Subsequent cases held that the police officer's suspicion need not arise from personal first-hand knowledge, and that officers needn't possess even reasonable suspicion to simply approach people without detaining them.  Police can also temporarily seize objects upon reasonable suspicion that they're contraband or potential pieces of evidence. 

Accordingly, it's flatly preposterous for Clinton, a Yale Law School graduate, to knowingly suggest that stop and frisk is inherently unconstitutional or improper.  It's even worse for a supposedly neutral debate moderator to suggest something similar, as Lester Holt of NBC News did. 

Fortunately, although perhaps unsurprisingly, the American public demonstrates better wisdom on these matters. 

Despite the persistent onslaught against police and their tactics from the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the media and too many celebrities, just 14% of Americans believe that police-involved deaths are the fault of officers, and most support stop and frisk tactics, according to Rasmussen Reports.  Additionally, a record 72% of respondents rated police in their locales "good" or "excellent," and most rate inner-city crime a greater problem than discrimination by police. 

So it appears that Clinton faces a difficult sale with her "systemic racism" and "implicit bias" broadsides against police. 

The public understands that proactive policing via such methods as stop and frisk has saved untold thousands of lives and fully squares with the Constitution, partisan claims to the contrary notwithstanding.  How tragic it would be to allow political leaders who remain immune from the everyday consequences of their agendas to recklessly squander that progress. 


Notable Quote   
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?