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A Strange Hearing on "Stand Your Ground"

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There was a strange hearing in the United States Senate regarding the "stand your ground" laws passed by a number of state legislatures.  Laurie Kellman has this story in the WaPo.  How was it strange?  Well, for starters, the star witness was Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, who testified:

"I just wanted to come here to . . . let you know how important it is that we amend this stand your ground, because it certainly did not work in my case," Fulton said, speaking without consulting prepared remarks. "The person that shot and killed my son is walking the streets today. This law does not work."
As we have noted here multiple times, the "stand your ground" aspect of Florida's self-defense law was completely irrelevant to that case.  The prosecution witness established that Martin had Zimmerman pinned on the ground at the time Zimmerman shot him.  "Duty to retreat," the point on which Florida's law differs significantly from the laws of a number of other states, is irrelevant when retreat is not an option.  See this post last July.  The relevant aspects of Florida self-defense law are fairly standard.  How can a law "not work in my case" when it has nothing to do with the case?

The hearing was strange, also, in that it was conducted before a legislative body with no authority to make the requested change in the law.  The circumstances in which a person can use deadly force in self-defense is a matter of state law, and nothing in the United States Constitution authorizes Congress to step in.  Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment does allow Congress to override some state laws that are used in a discriminatory manner, but despite all the race-baiting that has gone on in the Martin/Zimmerman matter, the claim that "stand your ground" laws are discriminatory is utterly unsupported.

4 Comments

Kent,

Those who shout "federalism!" "federalism!" in the debate about marijuana laws seem to have forgotten all about federalism when it comes to stand-your-ground laws, which have zip to do with any federal interest or law.

Federalism would seem to be a sometime thing. Imagine that.

To be fair, though, the tough-on-crime crowd has its own share of fair-weather federalists.

A “white-hispanic” is not even allowed to get someone off him whilst on the ground -- he must presumably take his beating. That is, if the attacker is a more worthy minority then him.

Remember the 2007-2008 Democratic primaries?
Recall Oprah Winfrey?

Black” trumps woman, Black trumps Latino, Black trumps all … unless … the Black is conservative, aka an “Uncle Tom” such as Herman Cain, Allen West,
Ben Carson, or Stacey Dash. They have no right to fairness,
and consistently, none to equal protection under the law.

~Adamakis

Kent's point is a fair one---however, given the sprawling leviathan that is the US government, why should law and order be given up when federalism principles will not be adhered to elsewhere.

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