Governor Carcieri and “civil rights”
The ACLU of Rhode Island has attacked Governor Donald Carieri’s record on civil rights (and the Providence Journal newsroom obliged with an undiscerning, over-the-top headline).
Following is the basis of the ACLU’s charges:
•Carcieri suggested on talk radio in October that English-language interpreters are unnecessary.
•He made statements in a legal brief in August condemning “no-fault divorce” laws, adding on talk radio last month that the state’s welfare system is “enabling” unmarried women to “have children they can’t support.”
•He vetoed a bill in July that would have eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for various drug offenses associated with urban, minority offenders. The General Assembly passed the initial bill but declined to override the veto during a special session.
•He vetoed another bill in July that would have provided retirement and death benefits to domestic partners of state and municipal employees. The Assembly later overrode the veto.
•And Carcieri last spring supported legislation sending all 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system to adult court. The Assembly approved the law in July, but reversed it four months later.
It should be noted that the first two items were statements made by Governor Carcieri (can a statement be a violation of someone’s civil rights?) and that the General Assembly concurred with him on two of the others. Already, then, the credibility of the ACLU’s criticism is diminished.
More importantly, as to the substance of all five of these items, how do any of them constitute a violation of civil rights? Hasn’t the ACLU misinterpreted or exaggerated the definition of civil rights, thereby watering down and even dishonoring genuine civil rights?