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July 2007
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The powers not delegated to…

Via the ACLU:

SANTA BARBARA, CA – The American Civil Liberties Union applauded today’s ruling by a California Superior Court judge to uphold a voter-enacted initiative that directs police to focus resources on serious crime by making marijuana use the lowest law enforcement priority. Citing California’s ban on lawsuits that punish public participation in the political process, the court dismissed the city of Santa Barbara’s challenge of the law, known as Measure P, which was brought against Heather Poet because she was the proponent of the challenged initiative.
“Today’s ruling is a major victory for the democratic process and a resounding affirmation of voters’ right to de-prioritize marijuana enforcement,” said Adam Wolf, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, which represented Poet in the proceedings. “The people of Santa Barbara would rather local law enforcement focus on combating serious crime than policing marijuana use. Today’s ruling confirms that the voters can make this fundamentally local decision about their community’s safety.”
In addition to finding that the city of Santa Barbara’s suit against Poet arose from “her constitutional right to participate in the process of formulating laws” and ran afoul of California’s ban on strategic lawsuits against public participation (“SLAPP”), the court held that neither state nor federal law precludes localities like Santa Barbara from prioritizing the enforcement of certain criminal offenses, including the de-prioritization of marijuana offenses.
As the ruling states, “Nothing in [Measure P] prohibits enforcement of state law…Police officers can still arrest those who violate drug possession laws in their presence. The voters have simply instructed them that they have higher priority work to do.”

And here’s the kicker in the ruling:

“Santa Barbara is free to decline to enforce federal criminal statutes. It is up to the federal government to enforce its laws. Indeed, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from impressing ‘into its service — and at no cost to itself — the police officers of the 50 States.'”

Wow! A court ruling that actually recognizes the existence of the 10th Amendment*. That’s exciting!
Now maybe the voters in Santa Barbara can penalize (at the voting booths) those petty officials who wasted the town’s money trying to avoid fulfilling the will of the people.
* Just a reminder for those who have forgotten:

Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

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