If you don’t remember Representative Istook’s provision that would prevent marijuana law reform ads from being placed on public transportation, check out my earlier posts here.
Back in June, a US District Judge rightly ruled against the law, calling it “an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ broad spending power.” At that time, Istook vowed to take it further (using our money, of course).
Now, however, according to this release:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice has notified Congress that it will not defend a law prohibiting the display of marijuana policy reform ads in public transit systems. The controversial statute was recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court. The Solicitor General Paul Clement stated in a letter to Congress that, “the government does not have a viable argument to advance in the statute’s defense and will not appeal the district court’s decision.” Today is Congress’ last day to respond to the federal appeals court in the D.C. Circuit.
“The Justice Department finally met a law so unconstitutional that it could not find any way to defend it,” said Graham Boyd, Director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. “Congress should stop trying to silence public discussion of the cruel and expensive failures of current marijuana laws.”
As the Wall Street Journal reported today, “Mr. Clement’s opinion also could serve as a warning to Congress that it can’t assume the Justice Department will support the controversial riders that lawmakers have been adding to funding bills if those riders are challenged in court.”
Now I’m not sure I’m ready to give a lot of credit to the Justice Department on this one. I don’t think this was a case of them taking the proper approach for the good of the country. I think they just were afraid of the humiliation of getting laughed out of the court.