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posted by charon on Thursday May 18, @01:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the illegal-fake-bodily-functions dept.

Among its orders issued on Monday, the Supreme Court did something usually unremarkable: it summarily refused to hear an appeal without comment. Most appeal requests are denied by SCOTUS, but docket 16-984 was unusual in several respects. For one, it involved a 13-year-old boy arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail for making fake burping noises in gym class. But recently it also became a notable dissent by recently appointed Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch from when he had served on a Federal Circuit Court.

The facts of the case were straightforward. As summarized in the introduction to the petition for appeal:

Thirteen-year-old F.M. burped in gym class, laughed, and, after the teacher removed him from the classroom, he leaned back into the classroom while sitting in the hall. Because these acts divided the teacher's attention, Officer Arthur Acosta ("Officer Acosta") handcuffed F.M., transported him to the local juvenile detention center, and charged him with Interference with the Educational Process, N.M.S.A. 1978, § 30-20-13(D) ("Section 30-20-13(D)"). Officer Acosta handcuffed and transported F.M. even though F.M. was compliant at the time he arrested him and there was no state interest in transporting him.

Ultimately, the case ended up in the hands of a federal Tenth Circuit Court, which found in a 2-1 ruling that the policeman's qualified immunity was sufficient to summarily dismiss any action against him. Gorsuch, however, found this absurd and began his dissent:

If a seventh grader starts trading fake burps for laughs in gym class, what's a teacher to do? Order extra laps? Detention? A trip to the principal's office? Maybe. But then again, maybe that's too old school. Maybe today you call a police officer. And maybe today the officer decides that, instead of just escorting the now compliant thirteen year old to the principal's office, an arrest would be a better idea. So out come the handcuffs and off goes the child to juvenile detention. My colleagues suggest the law permits exactly this option and they offer ninety-four pages explaining why they think that's so. Respectfully, I remain unpersuaded.

In his concise 4-page dissent, Gorsuch skewered the majority's convoluted reasoning, which seemed to spend much of its 94 pages constructing a careful path circumventing a New Mexico appellate court ruling that "interference with the educational process" required a "substantial, more physical invasion" of a school's operations. On this basis, Gorsuch concluded that the statute in question (which used identical language to the statute in the previous court case regarding colleges) obviously did not intend to criminalize minor "noises or diversions." He noted several other court cases from other states dealing with similar issues that concluded the same thing.

On this basis, he wrote that a "reasonable officer" in New Mexico should have known better.

But why did the Circuit Court come down so harshly and construct such convoluted reasoning just to let a police officer off the hook? The answer may be in the quiet sea-change in SCOTUS jurisprudence that seeks to limit almost all challenges to the "qualified immunity" given to police officers. Despite the fact that it doesn't appear in any federal statute, "qualified immunity" became de facto law after the 1982 Supreme Court ruling in Harlow v. Fitzgerald, which interpreted 42 U.S. Code § 1983 "Civil action for deprivation of rights" extremely narrowly. Over the years, this qualified immunity has expanded to the point that almost any police action -- no matter how unconstitutional or egregious -- is immune to civil action.

One recent illustrative case is SCOTUS's 2014 ruling in Plumhoff v. Rickard. After a routine traffic stop for a broken headlight, a car sped off resulting in a high-speed chase. After the car was cornered by a police patrol car, the police fired 15 shots into the car at close range, killing the driver and passenger and causing the vehicle to crash into a nearby house. SCOTUS reversed the appellate court's decision unanimously, determining that qualified immunity was still in effect. It should be noted that the doctrine of "qualified immunity" does not merely find officers non-liable for their actions; it necessitates a summary dismissal of any claims against them, preventing any actual consideration of fact in a lawsuit.

But what does this have to do with the "burping teen"? As argued in a recent Minnesota Law Review article, the Supreme Court has not only expanded its "qualified immunity" exceptions, but it has attempted to stamp out any possible dissent among lower courts. Rather than the standard jurisprudence concept of relying on citation of precedent, SCOTUS has instead chosen to quietly expand this doctrine (which it itself created in 1983), "describing it in increasingly generous terms and inexplicably adding qualifiers to precedent that then take on a life of their own." During the past 15 years, the Court has ruled in favor of the "qualified immunity" in 16 of 18 cases it chose to take. And in 6 of these cases it chose summary reversals of Circuit Court decisions, with no allowance for oral argument or briefing. (As the law review article notes, that represents about 1 of every 7 summary decisions in recent years.)

This tendency to not only reverse Circuit Court decisions (often unanimously), but often without even allowing argument, shows an unusual trend in SCOTUS jurisprudence. Even more remarkable is that through a series of rulings, SCOTUS has effectively short-circuited the process of appeals by insisting that (1) "qualified immunity" can only be denied in cases where officers violate "clearly established law," but (2) effectively limiting the determination of "clearly established law" to SCOTUS itself. Hence, if your case is not basically identical to the circumstances of a previous successful challenge to "qualified immunity" litigated by SCOTUS, lower courts are now implicitly instructed to grant immunity no matter what.

Indeed, earlier this year Bloomberg reported a story with the headline "Supreme Court Has Had Enough with Police Suits," after the most recent summary reversal -- just because the facts were "unique":

The justices made it clear that they wanted to send a message. [...] And the opinion referred to several occasions "in the last five years" in which the Supreme Court has reversed lower courts on the qualified immunity issue. There's little doubt of the message to the lower courts: The Supreme Court wants fewer lawsuits against police to go forward.

In an era where police misconduct seems to be getting more attention all the time, why are we not hearing more reporting about this quiet revolution in Supreme Court jurisprudence that has effectively made it impossible to make police accountable for their actions?

Returning to our "burping boy" case, perhaps we can read Gorsuch's dissent in a new light. Were the Circuit Court judges simply trying to find a way to grant immunity just to avoid another smackdown by SCOTUS? In his conclusion, Gorsuch comes close to accusing his colleagues of manufacturing an argument that they don't actually believe is just: "Indeed, a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels. So it is I admire my colleagues today, for no doubt they reach a result they dislike but believe the law demands..." He then goes on to say that he doesn't believe the law is "quite as much of a[n] ass as they do."

Because of his prior involvement with the case, Gorsuch was forced to recuse himself from consideration of the SCOTUS appeal. But if his dissent was sincere, maybe his voice will remain one dissenting voice among the otherwise unanimous Supreme Court justices who now allow for almost no possibility of personal culpability for police negligence, incompetence, or abuse.


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @02:01PM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @02:01PM (#511681)

    Qualified Immunity == (Only) Blue Lives Matter

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by ikanreed on Thursday May 18, @04:38PM (8 children)

      by ikanreed (3164) on Thursday May 18, @04:38PM (#511727)

      Never holding police accountable for what they do to citizens is one of the various toxic authoritarian idiocies that fall into this melting pot of a toxic situation.

      1. "Obstructing the educational process" as an actual charge that exists and can be leveled at minors. This is one of those laws that essentially criminalizes everyone, and only selective prosecution keeps the law from being used that way.
      2. Having police officers in school for basic disciplinary enforcement. This has been raised before and no one will do anything about it. But it's fucking stupid to have police in charge of disciplining children. It's not the job of a paramilitary force. I have a feeling that this trend started with drug war bullshit, but either way, it's one of the dumbest things ever done. Have a fucking vice-principle assign kids detention you idiots.
      3. The general notion that schools being disrupted by bored students is a sign of the student being dysfunctional, not the school.

      Just... fuck everything about this.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by NewNic on Thursday May 18, @05:09PM (3 children)

        by NewNic (6420) on Thursday May 18, @05:09PM (#511742)

        2. Having police officers in school for basic disciplinary enforcement.

        And, most likely they are paid double or more what the teachers are paid. Priorities anyone? It's not like the police in schools run any more risks than the teachers do.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @11:00PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @11:00PM (#511880)

          People seem to have very short memories. There weren't cops in a majority of schools before the hood rats starting shooting each other on campus.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @03:09AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @03:09AM (#511984)

            I didn't realize that Dylan and Eric qualified as "hood rats."

          • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Friday May 19, @05:08AM

            by kaszz (4211) on Friday May 19, @05:08AM (#512030) Journal

            Use metal detectors and drug dogs to screen out anyone with guns or drugs brought to school. And if found so relegate them to another school equipped to handle such people.

            Now if schools wouls stop this no-kid-left-behind and common-core BS..

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:51PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:51PM (#511759)

        Teachers have lost authority to do anything, so they have to resort to the police.

        It used to be that teachers would whack the bad kids. Kids could be made to wear a dunce cap. Misbehaving and stupid kids could both be tossed out of the classroom, dragged by their ear if necessary. You didn't mess with the teacher. The teacher had power.

        Now, the teacher has no power and gets no respect. People who just drool on themselves and make snorting noises are "mainstreamed", which is to say they wind up in a normal class disrupting everybody else. Violent kids are in class, and the teacher gets in trouble for personally taking action. The liberal mindset is that even a large thug is a "child" who can't be denied an education with all the rest of the students.

        The only option left: call the cops

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @09:34PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @09:34PM (#511844)

          The liberal mindset is that even a large thug is a "child"

          Dogwhistle! Maybe if you had been beat more when you were young you wouldn't be such a racist.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @01:20AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @01:20AM (#511928)

            I kind of figured some liberal would react that way. There is no "thug" race. You are projecting your own racism into this.

            A thug is a person who uses a physically intimidating presence and/or human strength to engage in crime, particularly to steal.

            If you see the word "thug" and think "black person", you are a liberal. You probably think the proper term for a black person is "superpredator", as spoken by none other than Hillary Clinton.

      • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Thursday May 18, @10:12PM

        by LoRdTAW (3755) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @10:12PM (#511863)

        In high school we had school security. This was just prior to the formation of the NYPD school safety division. They were quasi-cops in the same sense of traffic cops and auxiliary police. They did not carry guns but had the authority to arrest someone.

        Their only job was to secure the perimeter of the school and were posted at main entrances. They also handled any issues relating to weapons being brought into school and also ran the metal detectors on the "random" days they would setup. I also believe they escorted and kept track of visitors. Those officers were only called if they needed help breaking up a fight or removing an "outsider" (usually outside students who snuck in). And fights in my school were exceptionally rare. Only a few per year which must have been some kind of record for a public high school in the ghetto. We had I think two or three of those guards. One posted at the main entrance, one posted at the lunch room exit and one who did something. Maybe it was just two.

        Once inside, the school handled the disciplining of the students via the dean's office. There were about 5 or 6 staff who doubled as teachers who did dean's office work. They even handled outside conflicts. One such incident was when a classmate in my shop class beat the shit out of another student (this big doofus bully) as they lived on the same block. They were both in the dean's office the next day even though the incident happened well outside of school grounds.

        I don't think I ever heard of a student being arrested.

    • (Score: 2) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Thursday May 18, @05:11PM

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Thursday May 18, @05:11PM (#511744) Journal

      Only unqualified deference to authority matters.

      --
      You're betting on the pantomime horse...
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @02:15PM (12 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @02:15PM (#511684)

    I was curious, that it could be reasoned that when performing a civil arrest, you are doing the work of a police officer and are qualified immune from whatever you're doing? But it states it only applies to state or federal employees.

    It however does not shield them if they violate constitutional rights, at least that's what wikipedia tells me. And this story sounds like the cop violated the boy's first (burping and laughing) and eighth constitutional right.

    Further the whole idea of qualified immunity sounds like complete bullshit to screw over the public. Cops / judges / prosecutors, they are all first in line to shout "ignorace of the law is no excuse", but when they break the law suddenly they should be immune? Add to that that these are professions paid for by the public to actually KNOW the law in the first place.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Thursday May 18, @02:21PM (7 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday May 18, @02:21PM (#511686) Journal

      It however does not shield them if they violate constitutional rights, at least that's what wikipedia tells me. And this story sounds like the cop violated the boy's first (burping and laughing) and eighth constitutional right.

      Qualified immunity can shield them if the right is not "clearly established".

      Luckily, qualified immunity can be chipped away at, like in Turner v. Driver [soylentnews.org]:

      From Cornell's Legal Information Institute, "the Supreme Court [has] held that courts considering officials' qualified immunity claims do not need to consider whether or not the officials actually violated a plaintiff's right if it is clear that the right was not clearly established". In Turner v. Driver, the appeals court has upheld the qualified immunity claims related to the First Amendment because the right to record police was not clearly established in the Fifth Circuit. Although the right to record police was not clearly established at the time of the challenged conduct in September 2015, the decision also clearly establishes that right from now on

      --
      [SIG] 04/14/2017: Soylent Upgrade v13 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by AthanasiusKircher on Thursday May 18, @03:05PM (6 children)

        by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @03:05PM (#511699) Journal

        We'll see if the ruling in Turner v. Driver holds up to Supreme Court scrutiny. The Minnesota law review article I linked is a bit one-sided, but it notes (pp. 70-72) some distressing language in SCOTUS rulings just in the past 5 years or so that signals a retreat from the idea that lower courts can even create "clearly established" law on this issue. That, to me, is the more disturbing element in all of this -- the fact that the Supreme Court seems determined to stop lower courts from making their own legal determinations and limit their exceptions to immunity to cases where SCOTUS has already ruled things to be "clearly established." The Fifth Circuit's recent ruling seems almost taunting these SCOTUS trends -- going out of its way to lay down new "rights" in unequivocal language, even when it admits those rights can't be applied to the present case.

        And things have not improved since that law review article last year. In the ruling on White v. Pauly [supremecourt.gov] that led to the Bloomberg piece I linked, SCOTUS reiterated not only that "existing precedent must have placed the statutory or constitutional question beyond debate" but also "'clearly established law' should not be defined 'at a high level of generality,'" and must be "'particularized' to the facts of the case." Otherwise, so SCOTUS writes, "plaintiffs would be able to convert the rule of qualified immunity... into a rule of virtually unqualified liability simply by alleging violation of extremely abstract rights." On the other hand, SCOTUS also said that the case "presents a unique set of facts and circumstances" and "This alone should have been an important indication to the majority that White's conduct did not violate a 'clearly established' right."

        If you can get through that muddle, it seems to be creating a sort of "Goldilocks" test for this stuff -- you can't sue because of "broad rights" but you can't sue if the facts are "unique." You need to find something "just right."

        Seems the Fifth Circuit is trying to fit into that tiny "Goldilocks" zone by clearly establishing a "right" and hoping SCOTUS doesn't rule that it's too "broad." We won't really know until someone appeals to the Supreme Court on the police recording "right" issue. If they do another "smackdown" and a unanimous summary reversal, we'll know the door to "chipping away" at qualified immunity is basically closed, at least with the current membership of the court.

        • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Thursday May 18, @03:14PM (4 children)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday May 18, @03:14PM (#511703) Journal

          The Fifth Circuit is not the only circuit to rule on recording the police, btw.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glik_v._Cunniffe [wikipedia.org] (1st)
          Smith v. City of Cumming (11th)
          Fordyce v. City of Seattle (9th)
          Kelly v. Borough of Carlisle (3rd)
          Szymecki v. Houck (4th)

          I think even a conservative Supreme Court will side with a citizen over a cop on this issue. They might throw in some bullshit about reasonable time/place restrictions.

          --
          [SIG] 04/14/2017: Soylent Upgrade v13 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Thursday May 18, @03:34PM (3 children)

            by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @03:34PM (#511710) Journal

            Yes, I know there are other rulings, but thanks for noting them. It's important to clarify, however, that the last two cases you cite actually disagree that "qualified immunity" can be broken. Everyone seems to agree that this is a first amendment issue, but SCOTUS has clearly said you can't violate qualified immunity just for a "broad right." So it really comes down to the particulars, and there's currently a circuit split.

            But I certainly hope you are correct. SCOTUS has certainly come out against law enforcement in many other cases, and they've also signalled perhaps a bit of their view on this particular issue in the past [chicagotribune.com].

            But they seem to be repeatedly "sending a message" about the immunity business to lower courts. I read the Fifth Circuit ruling as nearly open defiance to those "signals." Given the overbearing "qualified immunity" trends at SCOTUS, I unfortunately do not share your optimism... though it could go either way.

            • (Score: 2) by Bobs on Thursday May 18, @06:14PM (2 children)

              by Bobs (1462) on Thursday May 18, @06:14PM (#511770)

              Thanks for the interesting article.

              I am trying to understand the limits of "qualified immunity":

              For example, if I became an "auxiliary cop" I then have "qualified immunity" and it is okay if I shoot somebody for running away from me?

              Or I decide to do a no-knock entry to a person's house at 3am and shoot then when they resist it is okay?

              Or I could take a "suspicious" person's computer and then "discover" child porn on it and arrest them?

              What is it cops CANNOT do with this?

              What is to prevent someone from 'incentivizing' the local police chief to become a member of the club and then go and play Judge Dredd?

              Honest question. Thanks!

              • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Thursday May 18, @06:36PM (1 child)

                by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @06:36PM (#511781) Journal

                First off, I'm not a lawyer (though I obviously have a strong interest in law) -- so frankly, I don't really know. I also think the role of "auxiliary police" is something that varies significantly by jurisdiction, as well as the powers granted to them. So I think that would come into play in terms of whether they have immunity for particular actions.

                But one thing to be clear about here -- "qualified immunity" has to do with CIVIL cases against the police. If police actually break a CRIMINAL law, they can (and should) be charged. The problem is that a lot of police conduct isn't actually regulated by statute: for example, people are supposed to respect most "rights" granted by federal and state constitutions, but there's not always clear criminal penalties for violating those rights.**

                Hence, lawsuits against police are often the only way to serve as a "check" against violations of rights. And even if they can be charged criminally, obviously the cozy relationship between prosecutors and police forces sometimes means they aren't charged or are allowed "deals" that skirt the law a bit -- again, lawsuits can serve as a check against corruption in this case.

                So the answer to some of your questions about whether it's okay to shoot someone for no reason or plant evidence or whatever -- obviously it's not LEGAL to do these things, and cops should be charged under criminal statutes for such actions. But if what they did was not clearly illegal according to some criminal statute, "qualified immunity" means you have no recourse to bring a lawsuit against them.

                ---
                **Important note: A lot of this courtroom back-and-forth nonsense could be solved in state legislatures actually passed laws criminalizing more types of police misconduct. But legislators don't want to do so because it's seen as "soft on crime" or "second-guessing law enforcement" or whatever.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by NewNic on Thursday May 18, @05:11PM

          by NewNic (6420) on Thursday May 18, @05:11PM (#511745)

          'clearly established law' for something that does not appear in any statute. There is some powerful doublethink required for that concept.

    • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Thursday May 18, @02:34PM (3 children)

      by Wootery (2341) on Thursday May 18, @02:34PM (#511691)

      It however does not shield them if they violate constitutional rights

      But the constitution generally applies only to the government and its agents, no? Is it an offence for a private citizen to violate the constitution? In what way can a private citizen violate the constitution anyway?

      • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Thursday May 18, @04:02PM (1 child)

        by tangomargarine (667) on Thursday May 18, @04:02PM (#511721)

        He states in the first paragraph that he's only talking about law enforcement officers.

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
        • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Friday May 19, @08:25AM

          by Wootery (2341) on Friday May 19, @08:25AM (#512080)

          Ah yes.

          I was curious, that it could be reasoned that when performing a civil arrest, you are doing the work of a police officer and are qualified immune from whatever you're doing? But it states it only applies to state or federal employees.

          Me no read good.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:28PM (#511750)

        Treason.

        Treason is the only law actually defined in the constitution, it was done so to prevent its over broad application to "doing something we don't like".

  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @03:23PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @03:23PM (#511706)

    I though the snowflakes and SJWs said that Gorsuch was the Antichrist.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @03:38PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @03:38PM (#511712)

      But was he the Literal Antichrist? Or just an Allegorical Antichrist or a Metaphorical one? Perhaps he's a Verisimilitudianal Antichrist or Synecdochian Antichrist.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @03:39PM (12 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @03:39PM (#511713)

    From TFA:

    Thirteen-year-old F.M. burped in gym class, laughed, and, after the teacher removed him from the classroom, he leaned back into the classroom while sitting in the hall. Because these acts divided the teacher's attention, Officer Arthur Acosta ("Officer Acosta") handcuffed F.M., transported him to the local juvenile detention center, and charged him with Interference with the Educational Process, N.M.S.A. 1978, § 30-20-13(D) ("Section 30-20-13(D)"). Officer Acosta handcuffed and transported F.M. even though F.M. was compliant at the time he arrested him and there was no state interest in transporting him.

    I don't get it. This little shit was clearly a threat to public safety. And given that he was already 13, the police (placed in the schools to make sure that dangerous criminals like F.M. don't endanger decent, law abiding citizens) should have, rather than transporting him to a holding facility, shot him twice in the back of the head after placing him in handcuffs.

    Why wasn't this done? It's the unions, those pinko commie scum! The school maintenance union contract with the school system forbids their members from cleaning up blood on school grounds. As such, the police are forbidden from using the necessary force to keep our kids safe.

    End the scourge of unions! Keep our kids safe! Summary executions are the only solution to the complete chaos in our schools!

    Justice Gorsuch should be ashamed of himself!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:01PM (#511738)

      Justice Gorsuch should be ashamed of himself!

      And he calls himself a conservative! What about this kids Second Amendment rights?

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:06PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:06PM (#511739)

      clearly a threat to public safety

      Not just public safety, there were minors present!
      Won't somebody please think of the children?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Soylentbob on Thursday May 18, @05:10PM (7 children)

      by Soylentbob (6519) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @05:10PM (#511743)

      Sorry, I can not resist this one. But since the POTUS alienates allies by putting their intelligence sources at risk, in order to do the Russians a favour [soylentnews.org], and the former against better knowledge [digg.com] by Trump appointed [politico.com] and pro [twitter.com]tected [nytimes.com] security advisor, Flynn, is a paid agent stopping military actions to help Russias alley, Turkey [mcclatchydc.com], can we finally refer to the Republicans as Conservative Commies? Can we make that stick? Even if the result is just to abandon this ridiculous attempt of an insult against so called liberals.

      (Although, thinking seriously about it, I'm not sure pushing the Republicans to get rid of Trump too soon would be beneficial for a free world. I'm not sure Mike Pence would be more source of joy or less risky for the rest of the world. And the Republicans might earn themselves a reputation of honesty if they support the investigations to get rid of Trump.)

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Soylentbob on Thursday May 18, @06:05PM (5 children)

        by Soylentbob (6519) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @06:05PM (#511766)

        How do we define "off-topic" here? I would consider a discussion "on-topic" when a comment refers to the content of the previous comment. Otherwise it would be quite difficult to have any meaningful discussion at all. I was expecting "Troll", "Flaimbait" for -1 or "Funny" for +1, but "off topic" looks to me like someone was hit and incapable to accept as well as incapable to retort ;-)

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by NotSanguine on Thursday May 18, @07:01PM (4 children)

          by NotSanguine (285) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @07:01PM (#511789) Homepage Journal

          How do we define "off-topic" here? I would consider a discussion "on-topic" when a comment refers to the content of the previous comment. Otherwise it would be quite difficult to have any meaningful discussion at all. I was expecting "Troll", "Flaimbait" for -1 or "Funny" for +1, but "off topic" looks to me like someone was hit and incapable to accept as well as incapable to retort ;-)

          Yours is a reasonable question.

          I went back and re-read the post that was modded off-topic. Please explain what, if anything, it has to do with a local school/police issue or anything else in preceding posts? I'm not being snarky here, I just want to understand.

          Thanks!

          --
          No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by Soylentbob on Thursday May 18, @07:30PM (3 children)

            by Soylentbob (6519) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @07:30PM (#511797)

            The direct connection to its parent post is this section quoted from there:

            Why wasn't this done? It's the unions, those pinko commie scum! The school maintenance union contract with the school system forbids their members from cleaning up blood on school grounds. As such, the police are forbidden from using the necessary force to keep our kids safe.

            I was pointing out that the very common insult used here, "commie", does no longer fit very well to the liberals (to which it was traditionally attributed most of the times) and might now be seen to fit better to the republicans. This was in reply to a guy impersonating an ultra-conservative guy, although I am pretty certain he was being ironic / sarcastic.

            Btw: I also see some connection to the topic of the summary. The summary is about the slightly unusual behaviour of the Supreme court, which afaik just got a new judge appointed by the Trump-lead republican government and was expected to become more conservative. It was pointed out before that they short-circuited the qualified immunity rule, which gives the police a lot more power, which fits to the conservative direction the court is taking. I think pointing out that, while this conservative government of Trumps might be ripe for some pruning, having the current vice-president instead of Trumps chaos team might not be that much of a relieve to everyone as many Trump-critics might think right now, is at least remotely related.

            • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Thursday May 18, @07:46PM

              by NotSanguine (285) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @07:46PM (#511801) Homepage Journal

              Okay. I get it now. Thanks for elucidating!

              --
              No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by NotSanguine on Thursday May 18, @07:51PM (1 child)

              by NotSanguine (285) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @07:51PM (#511804) Homepage Journal

              I was pointing out that the very common insult used here, "commie", does no longer fit very well to the liberals (to which it was traditionally attributed most of the times) and might now be seen to fit better to the republicans. This was in reply to a guy impersonating an ultra-conservative guy, although I am pretty certain he was being ironic / sarcastic.

              On sober (unfortunately :) ) reflection, I would say that unions tend to be more left-leaning, regardless of how the "Liberals" (In the US, that means centre-right, as opposed to batshit-crazy right wing -- that'd be the radical reactionaries who call themselves "conservatives") are perceived or doing the bidding of their paymasters.

              As such, the "commie pinko" label (especially from a "batshit-crazy radical reactionary" or someone playing one on SoylentNews) isn't so surprising when talking about unions.

              --
              No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
              • (Score: 2) by Soylentbob on Thursday May 18, @09:17PM

                by Soylentbob (6519) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @09:17PM (#511836)

                On equally sober reflection, I would admit that any allegiance to todays Russia is no longer related to communism, and realisticly, my comment was a bit off. Russia stopped being communist some time ago. I just think that public political debates are rarely fought (or at least won in any meaningful way) on sober reflections, but rather based on stereotypes, opinions, bullying, marketing (establishing sort-of brands) and emotions. Conservatives do that by coining phrases like "special snowflake", "social justice warrior", tree-hugger" or "do-gooder" to ridicule them. It's sometimes fun to take part, and I like to play the role of a social justice warrior [pastebin.com] sometimes, especially when I can persiflage some hubris I sometimes perceive. But it's even more fun to try the same towards conservatives, where hubris is also not uncommon :-)

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @11:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @11:02PM (#511881)

        I can't believe that Trump leaked ISIS information to the Russians! If there's one thing we Tolerant Liberals cannot stand, it's a President who is actually trying to stop the terrorists instead of sending them airplanes filled with hundreds of millions of dollars in untraceable cash.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:22PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:22PM (#511747)

      Ahmed the clockboy got away with a lot more than burping noises, even got an invitation to the WH.

      • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:55PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @05:55PM (#511764)

        Ahmed the clockboy got away with a lot more than burping noises, even got an invitation to the WH.

        Yup. That terr'ist, towel-head camel jockey tried to blow up the school and, of course, he was rewarded by our former islamist-in-chief, Barack Hussein Soetoro, that foreign-born ISIS co-founder.

        How dare some terrorist in training use his brain! Or anyone else for that matter.

        Thankfully, that sort of thing certainly won't be condoned by our glorious new leader!

        We're gonna make 'murika great again, even if it kills us. As long as we make sure those fucking brown people don't get what's rightfully ours!

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @03:41PM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @03:41PM (#511715)

    What a sad state of affairs where teachers and school administrators can't deal with unruly children and must call the police and send them through the criminal justice system.

    • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Thursday May 18, @04:41PM (9 children)

      by ikanreed (3164) on Thursday May 18, @04:41PM (#511728)

      I don't think it's that they can't. My personal feeling is that it's just too easy a solution. Have police on campus, have their whole job be discipline related, and don't be surprised when people assume that they're there to be used.

      Also, studies have shown that there's huge racial disparities on whether teachers will use school police on students that don't correspond to misbehavior levels, so there's this clear indication that it's elective, not necessity driven.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by BK on Thursday May 18, @05:09PM (8 children)

        by BK (4868) on Thursday May 18, @05:09PM (#511741)

        I don't think it's that they can't.

        And that's where your thinking is wrong. They can't.

        Back when, the opportunity to an education was recognized as a right, but the opportunity could be lost or expended by a student who could not or would not meet the behavioral norms of the school. School administrators had the ability to remove those who could not, or would not, participate from the student body for an extended period or for forever (expulsion). That is no longer permitted, or at least not in the way that would make it useful.

        Today, that expelled student still has the absolute right to that education at the expense to that school district. If he can't be educated at the school, the school must pay for his education in another setting.

        How does that apply here? There is almost nothing that a school administrator can do about chronic bad behavior... All of his options come at great cost and are discouraged. And even if he tries, the misbehaving student generally gains privileges. But, according to TFA a policeman can do just about anything up to, and including, drawing a weapon and 'defending himself' from whatever he sees.

        --
        4 out of 5 dentists choose Brand X. The other is just a denier.
        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by AthanasiusKircher on Thursday May 18, @06:00PM (7 children)

          by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @06:00PM (#511765) Journal

          As someone who actually taught secondary school for a few years, I can back up some of this. I still remember when a lawyer came to the class I was required to take for certification and advised us NEVER to touch a student, unless we were specifically trained and authorized to do so.

          That means -- if a fight breaks out outside your classroom, you call whoever the school tells you: an administrator, security, police, etc. It doesn't matter if one kid is beating another senseless -- if you intervene and something bad happens, you could likely get sued. If you get injured, you may not be covered by the school's insurance. If you accidentally injure a student in attempting to break up a fight, you could be sued. So, while police are basically ALWAYS immune, teachers are basically NEVER immune to lawsuits. (Of course policy varies by state and individual school district.)

          However, I think it's an exaggeration to say that administrators have no recourse today since they can't expel students. Students frequently get sent to in-school suspension for extended periods, which (depending on the school) can be operated in a pretty authoritarian way. Obviously if students are committing clearly illegal acts, like physical assault, etc., police can and should be involved.

          All that said, I'm not sure what any of this has to do with a case of a middle-school student burping and laughing in gym class. For such an infraction, teachers and administrators still have MANY options before calling police.

          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday May 18, @06:36PM (3 children)

            by sjames (2882) on Thursday May 18, @06:36PM (#511782) Journal

            I have to wonder if some of the "kids these days" aren't disrespectful of their schools simply because there's nothing to respect. When I hear of schools turning minor disciplinary issues into a police matter, I certainly don't have much respect for them.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:37PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:37PM (#511820)

              http://www.salon.com/2013/08/26/school_is_a_prison_and_damaging_our_kids/ [salon.com]
              "Schools as we know them today are a product of history, not of research into how children learn. The blueprint still used for today’s schools was developed during the Protestant Reformation, when schools were created to teach children to read the Bible, to believe scripture without questioning it, and to obey authority figures without questioning them. The early founders of schools were quite clear about this in their writings. The idea that schools might be places for nurturing critical thought, creativity, self-initiative or ability to learn on one’s own — the kinds of skills most needed for success in today’s economy — was the furthest thing from their minds. To them, willfulness was sinfulness, to be drilled or beaten out of children, not encouraged. When schools were taken over by the state and made compulsory, and directed toward secular ends, the basic structure and methods of schooling remained unchanged. Subsequent attempts at reform have failed because, though they have tinkered some with the structure, they haven’t altered the basic blueprint. The top-down, teach-and-test method, in which learning is motivated by a system of rewards and punishments rather than by curiosity or by any real, felt desire to know, is well designed for indoctrination and obedience training but not much else. It’s no wonder that many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and innovators either left school early (like Thomas Edison), or said they hated school and learned despite it, not because of it (like Albert Einstein)."

              http://thewaronkids.com/ [thewaronkids.com]
              "The War on Kids is a documentary on Public Education in America. While several documentaries on schools have come out since The War on Kids, these films tend to be either propaganda for charter schools or look at symptoms without any appreciation or understanding of underlying issues. To be a great documentary, it is essential to do the necessary work and dig deeper to uncover the heart of the problems observed. The numerous failures and pathologies associated with school are predominantly due to its autocratic structure. Because no one wants to voluntarily relinquish power, this fundamental problem is never addressed or even recognized."

            • (Score: 1) by tftp on Friday May 19, @01:22AM (1 child)

              by tftp (806) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 19, @01:22AM (#511929) Homepage

              I have to wonder if some of the "kids these days" aren't disrespectful of their schools simply because there's nothing to respect.

              Why would an aggressive kid, who is probing the boundaries of permissible, respect someone who is not holding his ground? Remember, kids are not adults, they are often driven not by rational thought and respect for others. IMO, even the best teacher cannot always attract undivided attention of everyone, from future Einsteins to the village idiot. Teachers have to teach, and not all subjects are nice, easy and pleasant to study. It requires effort - and very soon the pain of learning exceeds the pleasure from listening to a nice guy. Then the village idiots stop listening and start disrupting the class.

              Nothing else can be expected if the education is mandatory. IMO, however harsh it may be, people have to be responsible for their actions. As children are not legally ready for that, their parents step in. If the student cannot confrm to the rules of the class, he shall be expelled, and the school's duty to him is at that point done. The missing knowledge can be always regained, if needed, later - but, perhaps, on different conditions. Otherwise you will always have a few fools in the class that only hurt others (sometimes physically.) I would very much prefer to learn among students who are like myself, not among some random snapshot of the society. Perhaps bullies would also like to study among people like them. They won't learn much, of course, but that's given - you can only take the horse to the water. The society is wise in giving every kid a fair chance to get free education, but you cannot force-feed that education to those who reject it.

              If the requirement of mandatory education is removed, then automatically the police is out of the picture - we do not have police officers on duty in offices and on factories. The situation that unfolded here will be impossible; at worst, the ex-student would be removed by the police from the school for trespassing (as he is no longer a student there,) but not jailed. One would say that such children will become the dregs of the society - but they can correct the situation on their own, entirely within the existing legal framework - by finding an alternative school who is willing to accept them, perhaps on other terms, perhaps in classes full of other kids like them. If they won't lift a finger, though, nothing will change - they ain't learning anything either way.

              • (Score: 2) by sjames on Friday May 19, @02:58AM

                by sjames (2882) on Friday May 19, @02:58AM (#511975) Journal

                The school system where I am still has one school specifically for disciplinary problems. If a student is expelled, they go there and their parents are required to arrange transportation (making sure even otherwise unconcerned parents will show an interest).

                I don't know how it is now, but when I was in school, disruptive students did their assignments in the hall or got sent to the principal's office. If a student refused to leave, a large male teacher would (if necessary) drag them out. While there were a few incidents, they were handled within the school.

                But really, it goes beyond that. If a school's administration isn't smart enough and doesn't have enough sense of proportion to handle problems in house, they're buffoons. Hardly shining examples of educational ideals. They will not be looked up to by anyone. The kids know the difference between someone who really cares about education and someone who is just there because they didn't have enough charisma to sell used cars. Let's face it, some of the administrators out there (particularly the ones who manage to get discussed here) have failed adulthood.

          • (Score: 2) by BK on Thursday May 18, @07:10PM (2 children)

            by BK (4868) on Thursday May 18, @07:10PM (#511791)

            However, I think it's an exaggeration to say that administrators have no recourse today since they can't expel students. Students frequently get sent to in-school suspension for extended periods,

            I work on the data and IT side of schools and I assure you that in--school and out-of-school suspensions are reported to state and federal governments and that they (the higher powers) have expectations. Administrators are discouraged from giving them. And parents will actively encourage students to act out or violate rules [bostonglobe.com]. (In fairness, the rules are sometimesgenerally arbitrary and unfair and whatnot, but disrespect is learned at home.)

            All that said, I'm not sure what any of this has to do with a case of a middle-school student burping and laughing in gym class.

            Oh agreed. To all appearances, this is an overreaction. I *assume* that this is a student with a history of causing disruptions and for whom other options had been tried in the past. Back when, the hypothetical chronicly misbehaving student would have been sent home and possibly asked not to return until next year. Today, the district would have to pay for tutors, etc. and could be sued or worse. The police, as I noted earlier, can apparently do anything...

            --
            4 out of 5 dentists choose Brand X. The other is just a denier.
            • (Score: 4, Informative) by AthanasiusKircher on Thursday May 18, @08:39PM (1 child)

              by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @08:39PM (#511821) Journal

              I work on the data and IT side of schools and I assure you that in--school and out-of-school suspensions are reported to state and federal governments and that they (the higher powers) have expectations. Administrators are discouraged from giving them.

              Let's be clear on some facts. Your first post here waxed nostalgic for the good ole days when students could actually be expelled from school. Although expulsion rates have begun to decline in the past few years, they were at record highs up until about a decade ago. The National Center for Education Statistics [ed.gov] notes that the percentage of K-12 students who had ever been expelled rose from 15.2% in 1993 to 21.6% in 2007. The percentage of students who had ever been expelled rose from 1.5% in 1993 to 3.4% in 2007. Between the early 1970s and the 2000s, the percentage of suspended students more than doubled (particularly among minority students).

              So, I'd like to see some stats from you about the good ole days when they supposedly used to kick kids out of school more often -- and that made everything better.

              And yes, by the late 00s, suspensions and expulsions had reached "epidemic" proportions, and they had numerous documented bad effects. Namely, kids who had these punishments were more likely to end up failing classes, more likely to drop out of school, more likely to end up in prison. (These effects show up even for students who had not previously had disciplinary problems.) Effectively, we had enlarged the "expulsion to prison" pipeline. Also, expulsions and suspensions were disproportionately growing among minority students. So yeah, stats are collected and oversight requested. I can understand why -- we should know the reasons behind this trend!

              Now, you might argue that schools are getting worse, that kids aren't being disciplined enough at home these days, etc., etc. -- maybe so. But please let's not pretend that there was ever a "good ole days" when we kicked all the bad kids out of school and that solved everyone's problems. Strict expulsion policies for things like drug offenses, etc. growing in the 1990s arguably made these problems worse in the communities at large.

              I'm not saying there's an easy solution. There are obviously a lot of factors. But I'm not going to pretend that if only we could expel more kids that it would magically fix everything.

              I *assume* that this is a student with a history of causing disruptions and for whom other options had been tried in the past.

              Why should we "assume" that? Why should we put faith in the judgment of a teacher and police officer when they were also shown to exercise poor judgment? Later in the year that this incident occurred, the same student was subjected to a strip search without an opportunity to contact his parents and with 5 adults encircling him while he stripped to his underwear. There seems to be very little reporting of other details outside the court case, presumably for privacy reasons -- but the initial newspaper reporting in Albuquerque mentions nothing about prior incidents or punishments. Certainly nothing that would rise the level of illegality that would justify an arrest and trip to juvenile detention.

              Sure, maybe he was a consistent problem kid and out of frustration the teacher asked the police to intervene. Maybe there had been a multitude of previous disciplinary actions, though I assume that would have become part of the court record if there was some escalation that seemed to justify the police action; yet there's nothing mentioned about that. So I have no basis to make your assumption.

              • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Friday May 19, @02:03AM

                by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 19, @02:03AM (#511941) Journal

                Anyone who clicks on the link will figure this out, but I accidentally wrote "expelled" in the first sentence where I meant "suspended." This should be clear that I messed up the wording since the next sentence gives the actual expulsion stats.

  • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Thursday May 18, @06:48PM (2 children)

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Thursday May 18, @06:48PM (#511786)

    ...for someone like Gorsuch to say you're acting like an asshole? (Which is in effect what this is.)

    • (Score: 2) by edIII on Thursday May 18, @09:21PM (1 child)

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @09:21PM (#511839)

      Exactly. I'm shocked and greatly disappointed in the Supreme Court for giving police officers immunity in cases in which unnecessary force was clearly applied. It's kids for fuck's sake.

      The supposed antichrist that Trump put in, is now the defender of common sense and the rights of children to not be abused. I can't lie, I'm liking the guy so far.

      How fucking weird is that?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @10:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @10:11PM (#511862)

        > The supposed antichrist that Trump put in,

        He was no anti-christ. He was always just an anodyne scalia. Was scalia the anti-christ? Nah, he was just a compassion-impaired egotistical hypocrite.

        The biggest problem with Gorsuch (who, fwiw, pronounces his own name as gor-sutch, unlike nearly everyone in the news who says it gor-sitch) had nothing to do with him personally and everything to do with McConnell's decision to make up an arbitrary rule to block consideration of Garland (who himself is just anodyne).

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @09:42AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @09:42AM (#512101)

    Well, it's not totally bad: the supreme judges just turned all police into lepers so one should avoid close contact with them -or- in other words avoid them like the pest.
    In a way this gives the police more "scary powers" or forces people to repect or fear the police.
    It means, that if the police gets involved, nobody will come away "undamaged", so it is in the best interest to civily solve the dispute without having the ... lepers get involved :)
    Depending on which country you are in this is a good or a bad thing.
    For countries like usa where guns and ammo have a life of their own and free reign, having a scary police is probably a good thing.
    On the other hand, in the burping kid case, maybe it could have been handled another way by the teacher.
    A terrible but totally effective way is to use collective punishment. Since there was support by the collective (laughter) for the unwanted burping, some form of collective punishment would galvanized the supporters to stop their support. The collective punishment would have tuned the burb supporters into little policemen who would have collectively had an interest to put an end to the unwanted actions (and more punishment)?
    Side note warning: collective punishment can also spectacularly backfire : )

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