Waiving Constitutional Rights

Reply Wed 15 May, 2013 05:57 pm
I thought that the rights provided by the U.S. Constitution are inalienable and thus the individual can not sell them.

However, I have read of people entering into contracts whereby in return for a sum of money, agree to not divulge certain ijnformation.

Can a person sell his first amendment right to free speech?

If yes, does the Constitution allow the individual to sell his vote in government elections?
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Reply Wed 15 May, 2013 06:19 pm
This seems like an awfully silly question, lets see if it gets interesting.

A person entering a contract (of any kind) is entering a voluntary civil agreement. The agreement is enforce by civil, not criminal law.

Agreeing to not speak, for any reason, is not giving it up. You could make the same argument with any of the "rights".

I would accept money for not owning a gun. I would let soldiers sleep in my house for enough money. I would let police (or anyone for that matter) search my house for enough money.

In none of these cases would I be giving up anything.

Reply Wed 15 May, 2013 06:53 pm
Selling your vote?
Reply Wed 15 May, 2013 10:47 pm
Of course that is illegal. It has nothing to do with free speech, it has to do with free and fair elections.
Reply Thu 16 May, 2013 03:51 pm
A person filing a civil lawsuit against another person (e.g., a public official) for wrongful behavior against the first person. The subject behavior could be criminal and cause the local district attorney to bring criminal charges against the wrongdoer. Then the wrongdoer agrees to pay a sum of money to the victim in return for him/her dropping the charges and agreeing to keep silent about both the receipt of the cash and about the underlying crime. Thus the DA is precluded from bringing charges and Justice is subverted.

A variant on this that happens to be in the news presently (in New York State) is for the State Treasury to make the payment, the wrongdoer pays nothing and the victim agrees to keep silent.
Reply Thu 16 May, 2013 09:14 pm
I don't know what lawsuit you are talking about. And, with general terms like "subject behavior" it makes it a little hard to have an opinion on the topic. But this isn't a constitutional crisis.

I imagine it is troubling for a DA to force a victim to testify about the crime.
Reply Fri 17 May, 2013 04:10 am
Speaker Silver mishandled Lopez sex-harass claims, violated house rules: prosecutor


Last Updated: 12:17 PM, May 16, 2013

Posted: 2:27 AM, May 16, 2013

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver disregarded house rules by sweeping sexual-harassment claims against Vito Lopez under the rug with a secret settlement that only encouraged the lawmaker to continue harassing female staffers, a special prosecutor said yesterday.

The stunning criticism leveled by Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, the special prosecutor tapped to lead a criminal probe, was part of a one-two punch yesterday that included the release of a scathing report from the state’s ethics commission, detailing Lopez’s sleazy conduct.

Donovan’s seven-page statement concluded that Lopez’s alleged abuse did not amount to a crime in Brooklyn.

But, he added, “What we found is alarming.”

Donovan noted that two more female staffers filed sexual- harassment claims against Lopez after the initial complaints filed by two others were dealt with in a confidential $103,080 settlement, and were never forwarded to the Assembly Ethics Committee to investigate wrongdoing by Lopez.

“In fact,” Donovan said, “such investigation appears to be mandatory.”

“Unsurprisingly, resolving the complaints in this secretive manner and requiring a confidentiality clause edited by Assembly Member Lopez apparently encouraged him to continue the inappropriate conduct,” Donovan said.

Instead, the actions by Silver and his staff served as cover for Lopez and the Assembly, not to protect the alleged victims, Donovan said.

“The chief concern of those in the Assembly was mitigating the Assembly’s damages,” Donovan wrote. “That goal outweighed any interest in investigating or disciplining Assembly Member Lopez or in preventing similar occurrences in the future.”

He said the request for a confidentiality clause came from Lopez and the Assembly, not the victims.

Lopez paid an additional $32,000 to settle the initial harassment claims.

The separate report released yesterday by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics mirrored Donovan’s findings.

The long-awaited 70-page report described Lopez as a vindictive pervert who abused, harassed and even threatened the careers of his female staffers.

Among its other findings:

* Lopez used “power and perks” — such as gifts and raises — to manipulate female staffers to put up with his offensive behavior.

* Threatened and punished female staffers who left his office or got other jobs without his approval.

* Misused legislative time by requiring one of the plaintiffs to go on a trip with him to Atlantic City that was not government-related. He was accused of groping the staffer’s thighs during the drive.

* Fears that the first two staffers were represented by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred and would become sensationalized in the media pushed Silver and his staffers to make a deal and keep the matter quiet.

The report will be sent to the Legislative Ethics Committee, which could slap Lopez with multiple fines of up to $10,000.

State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox and others called for Silver’s resignation yesterday.

“Sexual abuse is not a partisan issue,” said Cox. “Once again, Speaker Silver has lowered the bar; in this case, he even violated his own Assembly regulations.”

Two of Lopez’s alleged victims spoke out yesterday.

“We came forward and filed a complaint with the Assembly because we wanted Vito Lopez’s harassment of us to stop and to ensure that other women wouldn’t be forced to endure what we went through,” Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera, the staffers who filed the third and fourth complaints against Lopez, said in a joint statement.

The JCOPE report reads like a tawdry novel, with details of Lopez’s antics based on interviews with 45 witnesses and a review of 20,000 documents.

The four complainants and other Lopez staffers told the ethics panel that he tried to force them to share hotel rooms with him and even get them to bunk with him in an Albany apartment so he could “cuddle.”

Lopez gave one staffer $150 and urged her to buy and wear a “low-cut blouse” and miniskirts to show off her “best feature.”

At one point Lopez, who has cancer, used his sickness to lure a young staffer. He too her hand and placed it on his neck, shoulder, and armpit to feel his tumors and told the woman “he was dying and he needed her,” the report said.

One of the staffers even recorded Lopez proposing that she move in with him in an Albany apartment so they could be together in “an adventurous way.”

Despite the damning report, Lopez’s lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, hailed Donovan’s decision not to seek criminal charges as a “just and welcome end to this sad saga.”

Lopez also issued a lengthy statement dismissing JCOPE’s “salacious and sensational” findings as “fallacious.”

Meanwhile Silver’s office issued a statement defending his actions as being taken “in the interests of victims.”

“A full review of the facts by both JCOPE and the special prosecutor has found that all actions by the Assembly were lawful and there was no basis for an ethics complaint against the speaker or his staff,” said Silver spokesman Michael Whyland.

“However,” he added, “as the speaker stated in August, it was a mistake not to immediately refer the initial complaints to the Assembly Committee on Ethics and Guidance, one that will not be repeated. The speaker is deeply committed to ensuring that all our employees are treated with respect and dignity.”

He noted that Silver censured Lopez and stripped him of leadership titles after the Assembly ethics panel concluded that Lopez had sexually harassed staffers Burhans and Rivera, who filed their complaints after the hush-money settlement.

“Given that the JCOPE investigation has found significant violations of the Public Officers Law by Assemblyman Lopez, Speaker Silver renews his call for him to resign,” Whyland said.

The state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics yesterday released its report into accusations of repeated sexual harassment of female staffers by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s handling of the complaints. Among the findings:

* Lopez violated the state Public Officers Law; subjected female staffers to “prolonged mistreatment.”

* Two women who received a $103,080 settlement never demanded a confidentiality clause.

* Silver’s staff didn’t refer initial complaints to Assembly Ethics Committee promptly.

* Assembly never investigated initial allegations or took measures to protect remaining female staff.

* Women who tolerated Lopez’s advances were showered with gifts, promotions, salary increases; those who didn’t were berated, threatened.

* Lopez gave female staffers cash to purchase more provocative clothes; required them to send fawning text messages; made staff members massage him.

Read more: Staten Island DA Donovan: Speaker Sheldon Silver mishandled Lopez sex-harass claims, violated house rules - NYPOST.com http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/mr_sleaze_mr_squeeze_ObZxtOasHRaS9YphnmUo2M#ixzz2TXkJXAeK
Reply Fri 17 May, 2013 06:36 am
This is a pretty disturbing case. I don't see how this is related to the initial post.

There is no claim that the victims did anything wrong. This article is condemning the actions of Speaker Silver who had the authority and the duty to stop this behavior.
Reply Fri 17 May, 2013 10:55 am
I thought i'd just point out that the concept of unalienable rights comes from the Declaration of Independence, not the constitution. The sentence from which that comes reads:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

For however much we may admire the sentiments expressed in that document, it does not have the force of law.
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Reply Fri 17 May, 2013 04:07 pm
I did ask for your opinion and you provided it. I thank you.

For the record, I don't agree with you. I think the two ladies had first hand knowledge of a crime by a public official. Rather than testifying truthfully they chose to pocket a large sum of money in return for keeping quiet about the crime. Without their testimony, I don't think Speaker Silver had the evidence to charge Lopez.
Reply Fri 17 May, 2013 04:58 pm
I disagree with you, in most cases, if you think that we should force victims to testify about the crimes against them...
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