CHRIS POWELL: Why marvel at a verdict that was hardly in doubt?

Published on Monday, 26 April 2021 21:08

Nearly everyone in public life in Connecticut has seemed to feel compelled to kowtow to and marvel at the verdict in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin as if his conviction was a triumph of justice against the odds. In fact Chauvin's killing of George Floyd may have been the most photographed and witnessed crime since Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas on national television 58 years ago.

All governmental authority in Minnesota and most news organizations around the world were immediately arrayed against Chauvin. His own supervisors testified against him. He wasn't going to escape responsibility.

Yes, Floyd was a petty criminal, drug addict, and deadbeat dad, and his poor health likely contributed to his death. But with the video anyone could see that the proximate cause of his death was the pressure applied to his neck by the officer's knee for 9½ minutes.

Besides, as Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter observed with wry understatement, "the safeguards of liberty have been forged in controversies involving not very nice people." The rights of petty criminals are everyone's rights.

The only danger to a conviction in the Chauvin case was not the "structural racism" that political correctness imagines filling the universe but the political pressure applied to Minnesota's judicial system while it strove to provide Chauvin with due process of law. The worst of this pressure came, appallingly, from officers of the federal government – U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, and President Biden himself. That pressure may provide grounds for appeal.

Connecticut's most ridiculous kowtowing to the verdict may have been that of the interim president of the state colleges and universities system. Jane Gates, who signs her name with "Ph.D" – a "doctor" like Jill Biden. Gates issued a statement lamenting "the sordid history of a weaponized legal system stacked against people of color" and declaring that defeating structural racism "is perhaps our most important mission as educators."

If that really is the most important work of educators in Connecticut, it may be no wonder that most students in the state emerge from high school without mastering high school work and that most students admitted to the higher education system supervised by Doctor Gates require remedial high school courses. As Doctor Gates says, educators have something more important to do than teach students how to read, write, and do basic math, since students need political indoctrination more than a good basic education.

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KEEP IN-PERSON VOTING: Connecticut's procedures for voting are said to be more restrictive than those of most states. Yet all one has to do is register at town hall, a special voter-enrollment session elsewhere, or via the internet and then go to the polls during 14 hours on Election Day. People who will be out of town or who are too ill to get to the polls can obtain absentee ballots and vote by mail.

It's actually easy and simple, but Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, and many Democratic state legislators think it's too hard. They support legislation to allow everyone to vote by mail for mere convenience. This strikes at the heart of election integrity, since it would remove the primary assurance of the genuineness of votes – the personal appearance of voters when they cast their votes.

Putting intermediaries between voters and the casting of their votes facilitates corruption and mistakes. A few absentee ballots delivered by mail can be managed securely, but great numbers of mail ballots can't be.

Already there is plenty of room for corruption in Connecticut's elections. Voter rolls are not updated as often as they should be and so in any election the rolls include people who have died or moved and can be impersonated.

And while only citizens are authorized to vote, the citizenship status of registrants in Connecticut is never checked. Election authorities simply take people at their word that they are citizens, even as some political activists advocate letting noncitizens vote.

The convenience of voting in Connecticut could fairly and safely be increased by allowing people to vote in person in the week ahead of Election Day. But "no excuse" absentee voting will invite trouble and impugn every close election.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Monday, 26 April 2021 21:08. Updated: Monday, 26 April 2021 21:10.