Is Law Enforcement a Right?

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Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales (additional links) notwithstanding, I believe law enforcement may still be a right in other respects.  Certainly I am in no position to argue with Supreme Court justices, but this quote from the Denver Post is overly-simplistic:

Denver attorney David Lane, who is not involved in the case, said police are also under “no obligation to take any action simply because someone reports something.”

“Just because she may have reported something to the police doesn’t mean they are on the hook for anything,” he said, noting the ruling in the Castle Rock case.

This case has several circumstances which make general statements about the responsibility of law enforcement precarious.  These include:

  • The characteristics of a restraining order are different than other crimes against life, liberty, or property.  This is why in his concurring majority opinion Justice David Souter referred to a restraining order as a “process” rather than right protected by the due process clause.
  • Restraining orders in general, and the behavior of Ms. Gonzales specifically. involve some discretion in enforcement.
  • Colorado law with respect to mandating restraining order enforcement is not specific enough nor does it provide remedies for enforcement failures.
  • A monetary settlement may not be relevant or appropriate and the police employees may have had qualified immunity.

Overall, this ruling in particular does not completely absolve a legal responsibility for government to provide effective law enforcement.

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I believe this subject, this influence on our lives is much broader than this one case and even law and courts in general.

The town of Castle Rock is an affluent, desirable place to live which outpaces national averages on home value and income metrics.

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