From the Right: Reform Comes Straight From the People, Not From ‘Activist’ District Attorneys

Don Schmitz

Across America, “activist” district attorneys (DA), with significant financial backing for their campaigns, are winning elections on a platform of “reform.” An activist is “a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.” Yet an elected DA takes an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and is responsible for the prosecution of criminal violations of state and county laws. It is their job, and their solemn oath, to uphold the laws of the land.

Billionaire George Soros and other wealthy leftists have a different idea: spend big to get activist DAs elected to office, whereupon they will pick and choose which laws to enforce, irrespective of their oaths. It has been their years-long campaign to remodel our justice system. Frustrated by their inability to convince legislators and voters to embrace their judicial vision, they seek to accomplish their goals by getting their activists elected. 

Now, activism is a good thing, and debate about our laws is healthy within the legislative process, or voter initiative. Citizens can and should contribute to political campaigns and public infomercials to try to effectuate change. However, activism and political bias have absolutely no place in the ranks of our law enforcement and judicial system—none. In fact, for an individual to do so is immoral and a betrayal of their oath. It has often been said that America is a government of laws, not men. That means the law is blind; no one person writes the law and they are to be universally applied. As Michele Hanisee, president of the L.A. County prosecutor’s union, stated, “It is a very, very slippery slope when you are asking the elected official to ignore laws they have sworn to uphold.” Yet that is exactly what is happening, as personified with the recent election of LA County DA George Gascón. 

On his first day, Gascón decreed that deputy DAs would no longer seek sentencing enhancements like the three strikes law. The three strikes law was passed by the legislature as AB 971 in 1994 and overwhelmingly approved by the voters as proposition 184. Yet Gascón, one man sworn to uphold the law, finds it offensive to his worldview and intends to ignore it.

Gascón also immediately put an end to cash bail. Contemplate the irony of this: on the Nov. 3 ballot that elected Gascón DA, California voters also overwhelmingly defeated the law to eliminate cash bail. The voters exercised their right overturning SB 10 by millions of votes, passing Prop 25, overruling the legislature and governor to reinstitute cash bail for public safety. Yet DA Gascón believes he, as one man, has the legal and moral right to overrule us all. That is a whole new level of arrogance. 

However, the pinnacle of hubris was his first day decree (more like a royal or papal decree than a judicial one) that no prosecutor would seek the death penalty. This didn’t resonate well with the family of Anthony Avalos, a 10-year-old Lancaster boy tortured to death. Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty against his mother and her boyfriend for whipping him, pouring hot sauce repeatedly over his face and dropping him on his head for six days. Anthony’s family is furious with the decree from Gascon.

But I digress—back to the hubris. Voters in California have a long history with the death penalty. In 1972, we approved Prop 17, putting it back into law, and in 1986 we ousted three state supreme court justices due to their categorical opposition to the DP. In 2012, Prop 34, eliminating the death penalty, was defeated. Recently, in 2016, competing side-by-side measures, Prop 62 eliminating the death penalty, and Prop 66, streamlining the process to execution, were on the ballot; 62 was defeated and 66 passed. Could it be more clear? Is the law, the will of the people, or the Constitutional review of this topic somehow debatable? No.  

We all understand, we truly do, that there are differing opinions on the death penalty, as well as other judicial topics, which is why we have well thought out processes for creating laws reflective of our societal values. Yet activist DAs assert they have the moral high ground and will simply act pursuant to their conscience, therefore not enforcing the law. If they find the laws repugnant and cannot in good consciences enforce them, they should resign. However, the whole point of this movement by Soros and the ACLU is to get the activist DAs elected so that they will do what the voters will not endorse, and the legislators won’t pass into law. Clever. Also, Machiavellian and immoral. Irrespective on where you stand on the issues, the danger should be obvious. Likely We The People will have to fix this, so prepare yourself for the recalls.