Tuesday, July 22, 2008

O'Malley Fails Civics 101

Through a spokesperson, Governor O'Malley assures us that no legislation is needed to prevent a recurrence of the political spying undertaken by the State Police when Bob Ehrlich was governor (and which he says isn't happening under his watch).

Why does he say we don't we need any legislation? Because we can be assured that his administration won't engage in that kind of conduct.

According to the Baltimore Sun:

O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec said the governor . . . is confident that the state police will not undertake surveillance without evidence of wrongdoing during his administration and that legislation isn't necessary at this point.
Oh, okay.

We don't need to rely on laws to protect our most basic rights when we can instead trust in the good nature of the governor.

What Governor O'Malley seems to have forgotten is that we have the rule of law precisely because we cannot rely on the good will of whoever holds power. Has he learned nothing from history, to say nothing of Civics 101?

Our protection against abuses of our rights is the rule of law, not blind trust that those in power will be good people.

Since the spying story came to light last week, the governor has not clearly said that what the State Police did was illegal. He has not given a pretty good but not completely satisfactory denial that his administration has engaged in similar activities. And now he opposes legislation to put our basic First Amendment protections into state law, so that we can have specific processes in place to prevent these abuses.

Surely the governor knows basic civics. And even if he doesn't, surely he knows that the next governor may not be so gracious toward the people as he apparently is.

O'Malley's "you don't need laws to protect your rights - just trust me" approach to this issue does not indicate a healthy respect for civil liberties. Nor does it make me more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to figuring out what his own administration has been up to.