New forms of (grand) jury nullification

The New York Times today brings us another of the sort of story it loves to do:  look, folks, the antiabortion folks are at it again, and it’s the usual metholodology:  take old law (in this case, state statute dating from 1880s that permits citizens to petition for empaneling grand juries) and twist it from its intended purpose in order to attack abortion providers whom they have not yet succeeded in putting out of business.  In short, if you get the requisite number of signatures (no problem there, obviously), you can get a grand jury empaneled to consider returning indictments on whether crimes have been committed in the provision of abortion services.  The laws governing the provision of these services are still being debated in the courts, by the way, so it’s not as if the grand juries have clear standards to guide them.  But hey, you know, when you’ve got righteousness and whatever else on your side, it’s full speed ahead.  Several interesting facts jump out at me from this account:

1.  Kansas is still not a state I’d want to live in (despite the fact that Kathleen Sibelius is the governor, and despite the fact that I live in Indiana, which is nearly as crazy);

2.  The elected officials there seem to be the voice of reason–scary thought (at least the ones quoted in the story);

3.  The grand juries have proven unwilling, in almost every case, to return the desired indictments against the abortion doctor who is the target of most of these petitions.

4.  One grand jury essentially warned the legislature that the statute was being abused by citizens using the provision for this purpose and all but declared its refusal to indict as a result.

If the recent reports about how white supremacists are going to use an Obama victory to foment civil war over the imposition of gun control and abortion are in fact true, I might point out that the seeds of discontent were sown long before Obama gained national prominence; he just makes an awfully visible lightening rod for the forces of rage.  As we go forward, I am far less worried about the terrorists abroad than those within. 


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