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The Supremes and their Dope in Public Housing
March 28, 2002
By Sag

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that "government agencies can use aggressive eviction policies to get rid of drug users in public housing." This means that if you live in public housing and you or your family are caught using or dealing any kind of illegal drugs, the entire family - grandpa, grandma, and the whole shebang - innocent or not - are out on the street on their collective asses.

This gives one cause for pause. Didn't old George #41 live in public housing back when young George #43 was "using"? And doesn't young George 43 have two daughters that used a drug (alcohol - that we know of) illegally?Where exactly do we draw the line? And just who is permitted to step over that line?

The Supreme Court without dissent, with the exception of Justice Stephen Breyer who did not take part in the ruling, said on Tuesday they had no problem with a law that allows entire families to be evicted from public housing for the drug use by one member.

Of course, in this world there are winners and then there are the losers - and some losers are declared winners. But on Tuesday the losers were four elderly California tenants who received eviction notices.

The four had challenged the zero-tolerance policy for drugs in federally subsidized housing in lower courts and won, but the Supremes dismissed the tenants' arguments that they should be allowed to have a roof over their heads even though they proved they were not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who doesn't have a worry in the world - except maybe how to get an unelected president re-unelected - wrote that the government as a landlord can control activities of the tenants and said that the "one-strike" law passed in 1988 amid complaints about crime in public housing was Congress' answer to drug problems.

The ruling affects ANYONE who lives in public housing, so ruled the Justices. How is it then that old George H. W. was not tossed out on his aristocratic blue-nosed butt? Didn't he live in public housing? And weren't young George W. and baby brother Jeb coke-sniffing, dope-smoking users of an illegal substance?

Under this law, tenants who are caught with drugs in their apartments are subject to eviction, even for a first-time violation - and an entire family can be thrown out on the street if one person is caught with drugs - even if the offender is blocks away and everyone else in the household is completely innocent and knows nothing of the "crime."

An injunction had been filed in Oakland to allow the elderly tenants to remain in their homes with the case pending - but just as the Supremes upheld a rigged election, they are now upholding a law that singles out the poor, elderly, and infirm as co-defendants in cases where they are innocent of all wrongdoing. Three of the renters in Oakland now face eviction because they had relatives that used drugs.

One 75-year-old disabled grandmother doesn't know where she'll go. Her "crime"? Her grandson was caught smoking marijuana in a nearby parking lot.

Tough, says Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who stated that the "strict liability" policy serves the dual purpose of putting all tenants on notice that they will be "removed" - kicked the hell out in the streets - if they do not prevent drug use by family members, and also protects law-abiding families from crime and violence in the projects.

It seems the Republican Party in the guise of the Supreme Court is seeking to confine crime and violence to only protesters against administration policies. I'd bet my bottom dollar that Willie Lee, the grandmother who can look forward to being homeless because of this ruling, is far more honest than Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who - as stated by columnist Richard Reeves - announced last week that when the government chooses to lie, the public's business is none of the public's business.

This was last Monday and Olson argued his position and won in front of the Supreme Court, saying, "It is easy to imagine an infinite number of situations where government officials have reason to give false information out."

No damned kidding.

Who's to say the government didn't lie in this case? If, for instance, the government wanted to get rid of a few of us, er, "undesirables," say, who were, er, "suspicious"?

Rehnquist continued, saying drug users and drug crime are, "a threat to other residents and lead to murders, muggings, and other forms of violence... it was reasonable for Congress to permit no-fault evictions in order to provide low-income housing that is decent... and safe."

So they're tossing this grandmother out on the street because they are concerned for her safety and to protect her from murderers and muggings?

A woman by the name of Pearlie Rucker, 63, was kicked out of her apartment because her mentally ill daughter was caught with cocaine three blocks from home.

Herman Walker, a 78-year-old stroke victim, will lose his apartment due to the Supremes' concern for decent and safe housing because his in-home caseworker was found with drug paraphernalia. Herman spent part of the day on Tuesday in a hospital but was later released with no home to return to.

The California courts had overturned Congress' zealous law. Ninth Court judges set out an "innocent tenants" exception - but the Supreme Court, exercising their right to reign supreme and flexing their controlling muscle, overturned the overturning.

The San Francisco lawyer who argued in vain for his poor clients asked "What sense does it make if a 67-year-old woman loses her home because she took in her grandchild and the child did something wrong? If you're poor and drugs are involved - anything goes."

I object, Your Honor. I contend that if you're RICH and drugs or any other criminal activity are involved - anything goes.

The administration of Bush #41 put this policy into effect in 1991, when Bush #43 was still wiping the coke dust from his nostrils and looking for Jesus.

President Clinton said it all when he said in 1996, "There is no reason in the world to put the rights of a criminal before those of a child who wants to grow up safe."

...You listening, George?


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