The competition is intense, but Durbin is definitely a contender. Here is the latest evidence:
In preparation for a previously announced hearing on controversial “stand your ground” laws announced after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., sent letters to more than 300 possible corporate backers of the American Legislative Exchange Council, requesting their position on such policies in states across the country.
This is Durbin’s press release announcing the “stand your ground” hearing in his Senate Judiciary subcommittee:
Around 30 states currently have some form of “stand your ground” laws on the books. September’s hearing will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws; the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and “stand your ground” laws mix, along with other issues.
There are multiple layers of stupidity here, so let’s try to itemize at least some of them:
1) Self-defense is a matter of state, not federal, law. Why is Durbin’s Judiciary Subcommittee holding a hearing on a topic that cannot, and will not, result in federal legislation?
2) “Stand your ground” had nothing to do with the Trayvon Martin case, as both prosecutors and defense lawyers said, and as we and many others have explained countless times. Is Dick Durbin really one of the few who don’t get this?
3) As Durbin’s own press release states, around 30 states have some some sort of stand your ground legislation. That is a clear majority. There is a reason for this. Most people think such laws are a good idea, as shown by, for example, a strong 45%-32% plurality in this Rasmussen survey. It is not necessary to investigate the influence of some nefarious “lobby” to explain why popular legislation is enacted in 30 states.
4) Durbin’s attack on the American Legislative Exchange Council is a sad page in the current left-wing playbook. A previously little-known good government group (albeit one with broad support and participation among both corporations and legislators), ALEC found itself in the left-wing crosshairs a year or so ago, and has remained there. Why? Roll Call’s blog offers a clue:
Durbin may have a hard time getting Anheuser-Busch, BP, Comcast or the Koch Industries [sic] to file formal responses to Durbin about laws like the one that gained notoriety in the case of killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin, but Durbin’s going to try nonetheless, given that those companies back ALEC, which in turn pushed “stand your ground” laws.
The left’s attack on ALEC was largely a front in its war against the Koch brothers. MSNBC bizarrely accused the Kochs of being responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death, via Koch Industries’ participation in ALEC–seriously–which led to an explosive appearance on MSNBC by Koch Industries’ general counsel, Mark Holden. We covered it in detail here, including video and a first-hand account by Holden.
Despite MSNBC’s having been completely humiliated in that exchange, Durbin is happy to pick up where they left off. It it’s a dumb theory and a complete waste of time, Dick Durbin is your man. Here is a suggestion: if Durbin wants to do something useful with his Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, how about looking into Barack Obama’s and Eric Holder’s politicization of the Department of Justice? Unlike state laws on self-defense, that would be an appropriate topic for Senate oversight.