San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec




San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Supreme Court erodes civil liberties

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court put a dent in your civil liberties. In a 7-2 ruling, the justices decided that police have the right to order all passengers out of a vehicle during traffic stops.

This is unfortunate. Citing officer safety as the main concern, the majority of justices ruled that, during a routine traffic stop, police can order all passengers out of a vehicle. The two dissenting justices, Anthony Kennedy and John Paul Stevens, rightly stated that innocent passengers can now be detained because of a minor traffic violation committed by the driver.

This is just another in a series of erosions of the authority of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which defends citizens’ rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

The majority of the justices believed that police officer safety was more important than the rights of passengers and cited the 5,000-plus assaults and 11 slayings of officers in 1994 as proof. However, Stevens noted that these statistics are irrelevant because they do not show whether passengers were involved or not.

This case stems from a 1989 police stop in which passengers in a vehicle were found with crack cocaine. This is just one more example of how the drug war is infringing on your rights and freedoms.

Government needle exchange

Also last week, the Clinton administration ordered Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalayla to look into the possibility of a federally funded needle program for drug users.

Citing programs and scientific studies that show free needles reduce AIDS infection among hard-to-reach groups, the government may begin distributing needles in major cities by next year.

The Daily Aztec applauds this measure. Opponents have claimed that free needles encourage drug use and amount to government-sponsored drug addiction. This claim is preposterous. If anything, intravenous drug users are often the most hard-core drug addicts and are extremely hard to reach through traditional education efforts. If the free needle program can also distribute important information and education to IV drug users, then it is possible that the spread of AIDS can be slowed.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Supreme Court erodes civil liberties