Judge Jim Gray - Articles 4

Judge Jim Gray supports Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s proposed AB 390.


Assemblyman Jose Solario
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Re:  Support for AB 390

Dear Jose:

As a trial court judge in the Orange County Superior Court with more than 23 years of active service, I support Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s proposed AB 390.

The objections that the opponents of this forward-thinking bill generally cite are, first, that marijuana causes harm to the user and to society, and second, that the bill would “send the wrong message to our children.”  But the reality of the situation is that, first, marijuana is already abundant in California, and the rest of the country as well, so whatever harm it would cause is basically already upon us, and that, second, society would no more be encouraging or condoning children or anyone else to use marijuana by instituting these changes than it now encourages or condones anyone to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. 

But many other harms directly caused by our present system would be materially reduced by the program that would be established by AB 390, once federal law were to be changed to allow it to be implemented.  These include the fact, as stated by the Honorable Betty Yee, chair of the State Board of Equalization, that the strictly regulated and controlled distribution of marijuana to adults over the age of 21 would bring in about $1.3 billion in additional tax revenue to our state. 

Government estimates that presently illicit marijuana today is a $14 billion per year business in California alone, and, of course, that is untaxed revenue.  Since AB 390 would undercut the present retail price of marijuana by about 50 percent, even with the $50 surcharge per ounce and applicable sales taxes, it would still generate this much-needed tax revenue.  But in addition it would also save our taxpayers at least $1 billion that now we spend in a futile effort to eradicate marijuana and prosecute and incarcerate non-violent marijuana users. 

In 2008, California authorities seized about 2.9 million marijuana plants with an estimated wholesale value of $11.6 billion in 542 raids.  (In spite of this “success,” marijuana was still our state’s largest cash crop.)  But the money that we spent on these raids could be saved, because by undercutting the price, AB 390 will do what the eradication efforts could not: come close to putting the Al Capones of the marijuana world out of business.

In addition, today there are literally thousands of people in our state prisons because they did nothing but smoke marijuana.  These were people who were on parole, with the condition that they use no form of illicit substance.  But if they smoked marijuana at all they would either fail to appear for the drug testing or be tested positive.  So either way they would be re-incarcerated.  And often this has caused their families to go back onto welfare.  Holding people accountable for their actions instead of punishing the mere smoking of marijuana would save taxpayers a sizeable amount of money.

But even more importantly, AB 390 will make marijuana less available for our children!  Today it is easier for our children to get marijuana, if they want to, than it is a six-pack of beer.  Why is that?  Because the alcohol is controlled and regulated by the government, and marijuana is controlled and “regulated” by illegal drug dealers, and they don’t ask for i.d.!  As a consequence, no alcohol is offered for sale on high school campuses, but marijuana, including free samples to get them started, is offered to our children consistently. 

Furthermore, today children are not being recruited to sell Coors beer or Jack Daniels bourbon, but they are routinely being recruited by adults to sell marijuana.  Why would anyone do such a thing?  Because then everyone makes more money!  And to whom do these children sell their drugs?  To people like us?  No, they unfailingly sell the marijuana to their peers, thus recruiting more children to a lifestyle of marijuana usage and marijuana selling.  As a trial court judge, I have seen this happen time and time again.  It is not a pretty sight, and it is all caused directly by our present system. 

Children are solicited to join juvenile street gangs for the same reason.  And it works!  Why?  Because they want to be a “part of the action” in making money off the sale of illicit marijuana.  So if passed and put into operation, AB 390 would probably be the most effective anti-gang legislation to have been enacted in a decade.

Finally, I believe AB 390 should be amended to allow hemp, which is the stalk and seeds of the marijuana plant, and which can be manipulated so that they have no mind-altering properties whatsoever, to be treated like cotton or any other industrial crop.  The industrial history of hemp goes back thousands of years, and the crops to be manufactured from it are another story in themselves.  But today California’s merchants are required to import their raw hemp materials from countries like Canada and England, to the disadvantage of all of us in California.  So that hindrance to competition for our industries must be addressed and changed.

Certainly no system is perfect, but AB 390 is a major step in the right direction.  That is why I so strongly support its passage, and also why I recommend that you and your colleagues give it your fullest favorable consideration and assistance.

Naturally if I can be of further assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me either on my cell phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx, or by e-mail at JimPGray@sbcglobal.net.

Best personal regards,

James P. Gray
Judge of the Superior Court (Ret.)

The Peer Court Experience - By Judge Jim Gray

Peer Court

Without Question, numbers of things with our young people are not going well in out society today.  Even worse, in several well-publicized situations our local government organizations have not only been unresponsive, but sometimes they have been a part of the problem.  However, our citizens, parents and taxpayers should be aware that many things are going right, too.  One of those successful and helpful programs is peer court (also known as youth court or teen court).

We started our peer court in Orange County, California in 1994.  The purpose was to provide and institutional means for our young people to focus upon ethics, individual responsibility, the long-range importance in their lives of getting accurate information and making intelligent decisions based upon it, and the fact that they are important role models for others, especially their younger siblings.

Orange County’s Peer Court is a diversion program that presents real juvenile court cases that are carefully screened by the probation department to high school “jurors.”  The juvenile subject must admit the truth of the charged offense and, along with his/her parents, waive their rights to confidentiality.  They personally appear at high school outside of their own school district (so that no one present knows them) with at least one parent.  A jury of students at the host high school is impaneled after short questioning to determine if they can be fair and impartial.  A probation officer reads a statement of facts about the case, and then the subject about themselves, their backgrounds, the offense, or anything they feel would be important for the jury to know about the situation.  A sitting county judge presides over each of the sessions, and also asks questions; however the program is designed for most of the questioning to be done by the high school jurors.  After enough questions are asked to enable to the jurors to feel that they have received sufficient information, the jury retires along with a volunteer adult attorney advisor to deliberate and reach a recommended sentence to the give to the judge.  The attorney advisor tries to keep the jury focused, but does not participate in the deliberations.

When the jury returns, the judge reviews the recommendations and tries to incorporate them into the sentence.  If the juvenile subject completes the sentence within four months, the underlying offense if dismissed.  The only sanction for a failure to complete the sentence is to refer the underlying offense back to the district attorney for prosecution.  Obviously, the district attorney must exercise appropriate discretion in making this decision; however, that office has stated that it will consider the subject’s failure of the diversion program as a “factor in aggravation” in whether or not to proceed.  We stress that these are serious matters.  Even though juvenile records are still sealed for most purposes, there are always exceptions and the risks of having a criminal conviction should not be taken lightly.

Read complete article, download the Adobe PDF on "The Peer Court Experience" by Judge Jim Gray - approx. 8mb

The Peer Court - Video

James P. Gray is a Judge of the Superior Court in Orange County, California, the author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed And What We Can Do About It – A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs, Temple University Press (2001), and has a website at www.judgejimgray.com.

Your Motivation? - A Response From Judge Jim Gray.

February 17 2009 - Join The Group END THE WAR ON DRUGS with Judge Jim Gray


Dear Mark,

Thank you for the note. I worked hard on the book with the hope that it would increase a full, open and honest discussion of this critical area.

When I became a trial court judge at the end of 1983, I had no particular thoughts about drug laws one way or the other, except to enforce them. That is what I had done as a Navy JAG attorney, and that is what I did as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.

Then the thing that struck me first in this area when I was on the bench was that alcohol-related offenses were the largest problem area that we faced, and we were doing almost nothing about it. So I helped to establish what was probably the first Drug Court in the country. We screened every drinking driver that came into our courts to determine who were the alcoholics (We called them "High Risk Problem Drinkers," but they knew what we meant.), and then placed them onto a program that required total abstinance from alcohol. We were successful in keeping 65 % of these people off alcohol for 8 months, which was as long as I was able to keep statistics. We also received letters from, for example, wives that told us they were going to divorce their husbands because of their drinking. But now that they were on our program, thank you, because you have given me my husband back. We didn't need to receive too many of these letters to know that we were on to something good.

So with this experience, it did not take me long to realize that we were facing similar problems with the other mind-altering, sometimes addicting drugs. And that jail and prison was not the answer. What worked was four things: education, prevention and treatment, positive economic incentives to do what was socially acceptable, and individual responsibility for one's actions. But trying to control what people put into their bodies was not working. And along the way, the drug money problems were dwarfing the actual drug problems.

So, being a fairly clean-cut, conservative judge in a conservative county who had never used any form of illicit drug, I decided that few people could cause others to listen to the message more than I could. (It certainly was not a "career-enhancing" thing to do.) So in April of 2001, I actually held a press conference, and I spoke out about my conclusions as publicly as I could. And I continue to do so today.

So please use whatever your personal experiences and observations are, and help us to discuss this critically important issue. The beheadings in Mexico have almost nothing to do with drugs: they are all about drug money. And so are a large number of other problems with violence, corruption, disregard for the law, supporting terrorism, and directly leading our children into a lifestyle of drug usage and drug selling. Drug money is the major problem, and still we refuse even to discuss the issue.

And I would be interested in your thoughts, both in general, and about my book.

Thank you again for the note, and Good Luck to us all.

Judge Jim Gray

Los Angeles Times

Legalization, No -- Policy Overhaul, Yes

EDITORS, Los Angeles Times, January 4, 1994
Calls by Orange County judge for a critical study of drug laws gain influential support Bit by bit, adding a legislator here and a policeman there, Orange County Superior Court Judge James P. Gray is building a coalition to support his proposal for a thorough review of the nation's drug laws. He is proving to be a catalyst for a needed debate on an important subject.

Gray first caused a stir by advocating drug legalization, a position The Times opposes. However, his less controversial call for examination of existing laws merits study. Consider state Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach), who appeared with Gray at a Santa Ana press conference last month. Bergeson, an adamant foe of drug legalization, lamented that "drug use is ravaging our families" yet she said also that a study of the problem is needed "if we are to make a difference." It's hard to quarrel with that.

It has been nearly two years since Gray proclaimed himself fed up with the dreary parade of drug cases through his court and said he backed legalization of marijuana, cocaine and heroin as a way of dealing with the tide of drugs in America. He was condemned by a host of law enforcement officials, and there even were calls for him to be disciplined. The judge survived, and now he urges "a program of regulated distribution" of drugs. That's a bad idea, but Gray is right to keep up the effort to make the public aware of inadequacies in present drug enforcement approaches. Several days before the Santa Ana press conference, U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders suggested that drug legalization be studied. Clinton Administration officials quickly disowned her comments, but examining and reforming anti-drug policies indeed make sense. For one thing, we clearly need better treatment programs.

At the press conference, Gray was supported by a Detroit councilwoman, a clergyman, an L.A. County sheriff's lieutenant and an Orange County supervisor. Among those advocating drug legalization or decriminalization are conservatives and liberals. They deserve to be heard, and proposals for a study of anti-drug policies deserve consideration.

Los Angeles Times

From: Orange County Voices section of the Los Angeles Times

September 22, 1996
It's Time for New Battle Plan in the Losing War on Drugs
By Judge James P. Gray

Our great country is reeling from self inflicted wounds resulting from our current failed "war on drugs." It is clear that we are not in better shape today than we were five years ago regarding drug use and abuse and all of the crime and misery that accompany them. Unless we change our approach, we can have no legitimate expectation that we will be in better shape next year than we are today.

However, we will not pursue change until we realize, as a country, that it is all right to talk about this issue-and that just because we talk about the possibility of changing our drug policy does not mean that we condone drug use or abuse.

During the election season, let us as voters challenge all candidates for all offices to take a fresh and objective look at our most basic drug policy assumptions and recommend changes based upon the evidence. Let us tell all candidates in the clearest of terms that it is not only all right, but it is essential to discuss this critical issue openly fully.

In the "war on drugs," victory is now literally being viewed as slowing down the pace of defeat. Our present policy has made cocaine the most lucrative crop in the history of mankind. It has made marijuana the most lucrative crop in California, easily outdistancing the second- leading crop, which is corn.

Our present policy is directly funneling tens of billions of dollars per year into organized crime, with all of its accompanying violence and corruption both in our country and around the world. Our present policy is directly causing our children in the inner cities and virtually everywhere else to have drug dealers as their role models, instead of people who have gotten their education and worked hard to be successful.

Our present policy has at the same time both increased street crime and diverted scarce resources away from its prosecution. Our present policy has directly spawned a cycle of hostility by the incarceration of vastly disproportionate numbers of minority groups. And our present policy is directly responsible for medical doctors being unable to prescribe appropriate medications for their patients who are either in pain or are suffering from a number of devastating diseases.

If there is any universal agreement in any area of drug policy, it is that the education of our young and our not so young people is critically important in combating drug abuse, and that to an appreciable degree for non-addicted users, it works. Social pressure is another effective deterrent to drug abuse, as is drug treatment, which has been determined by the Rand Corp. in a 1994 study to be seven times more effective than drug prosecution, even for addicted drug users.

Similarly, education. social pressure and treatment have been effective in decreasing the use of other dangerous and sometimes addictive drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco-even though these drugs are not illegal for adults. It may be that the recently documented increased use of marijuana by teenagers, and the frustration and resignation shown by their parents, has resulted from less emphasis upon drug education. If so, maybe we should at least consider investing our increasingly scarce resources where they will be most productive, instead of routinely continuing to spend enormous and never-ending tax dollars on the incarceration of nonviolent drug users. All responsible citizens understand the necessity of holding people accountable for their actions. However, our citizens are becoming increasingly aware that the criminal justice system is simply not able to make meaningful progress in this area because of the obscene profits to be made in selling illegal drugs.

As a result, thousands of Americans such as Dr. Milton Friedman, former Secretary of State George Shultz, Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore and former San Jose Chief of Police Joseph McNamara have signed a resolution calling for the investigation of change by a neutral commission. This resolution actually was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton as a part of the recent crime bill; however, it has been widely ignored since that time. The signatories of the resolution include large numbers of judges; civic, business and religious leaders; probation officers and prison officials, medical doctors, teachers and counselors. There is wide support for the investigation of change-our present policy simply will not stand scrutiny.

We are the ones who elect our governmental officers, so the responsibility for their silence and inaction is ours to bear. However, this can be changed. Let all candidates know that we voters understand that the honest exchange of information is the only way we will begin to reduce the continuing harm wrought by these dangerous drugs in our country. Tell them we demand that the law be followed and the neutral commission be appointed. If we the voters demand that these important issues be discussed, our leaders will follow.

James P. Gray is a judge of the Superior Court in Santa Ana, Ca.

Judge James Gray - Campaign Issues For Senate 2004

Budget and Economy

Much of what the Federal government does exceeds the limited powers granted to it under the U.S. Constitution. The result has been the huge growth of government, ever-increasing budgets, higher taxes, and burdens on the economy that reduce employment opportunities.

Millions of Americans who are willing and able to work are unemployed. Republicans and Democrats argue over band-aids like extending unemployment benefits and creating make-work government officials inflate the supply of money, when they give special privileges to banks and large corporations, and when they try to plan the economy, they cause cycles of boom and bust – cycles that misdirect investors, destroy healthy companies, and put people out of work.

The only cure for unemployment is a real job, and the free market economy is the most effective job creator on earth. Remember, governments do not create wealth- only private businesses do that.


Schools under the control of Federal Government have failed our children. For decades, costs have gone up while performance has declined. Government schools are hotbeds of violence and drug dealing; problems virtually non-existent in private education, which has local control. And the issue is not about money. Private schools perform better at about half the cost per student.

Freedom in the area of intellectual development and personal philosophy is fully as important as freedom of religion, and for the same reasons. Government control of what your children think or are taught is just plain wrong.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the Federal government has no legitimate power to legislate regarding education. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.” As such, there is no proper role for the federal government in education. It should withdraw completely and leave control to the parents and the local school districts.

Foreign Policy

It’s very simple: Neutrality, free trade and strong, responsible defense. Or, as Jefferson said: “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” Unfortunately, both Democrat and Republican politicians have followed a policy of going anywhere and doing anything, and these policies have been a security disaster.

When Americans and American goods are allowed into other countries, the people want more of what America has: individual liberty, a free market economy and political freedom with open democratic elections. It’s amazing what messages blue jeans, rock and roll and Big Macs carry. When allowed to see such products and to interact with the people who produce them, the oppressed subjects of totalitarian regimes quickly see that their lives will improve with the introduction of free markets and liberty.

Gay & Lesbian Rights

These are not federal issues. They must be left to the states! Gay and Lesbian rights for adults are issues of liberty! Marriage licenses were wrongly originated to “control” interracial relationships, and are now wrongly being used to control gay and lesbian relationships.

On four occasions over the years was presented with petitions by natural mothers for their lesbian partner to adopt their child. Employing the “best interest of the child” standard, I reviewed the petitions carefully, and in each occasion approved the petition and presided over the adoption.

I believe that binding commitments to a child and to an adult partner are good things! Society should support them! I agree with Governor Schwarzenegger. “If gay and lesbian marriages are all right with the people of California, they are all right with me.”

Gun Prohibition

Gun Prohibition doesn't work and actually compounds problems. What works is liberty, education and personal responsibility in gun ownership.


I believe that labels don't work. First of all, abortion is not and should not be a federal issue. It should be left for the states.

However, if I were running for a state office, I would say that a woman should have domain over her own body, until the fetus is viable outside the womb. However, once that point is reached aborting the fetus would be tantamount to murder.

In addition, prohibitions don't work. In my view people who view this differently are going to have to decide whether or not they want to be philosophically pure, or if they want to actually reduce the number of abortions. If abortions were legal, I would recommend it only after the woman was required to get some counseling by a professional of her choice. I am convinced that once she focused upon viable options and realized she was not alone and she could potentially be at risk to severe psychological pangs in the years to come, there would be fewer abortions than there are now.

Israel & Palestine

1. The fifty-year-old Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is the core cause of Middle Eastern violence. It is wreaking tragedy on the region and creating increasingly dangerous destabilization for the entire globe.

2. American taxpayers, without being consulted, are giving Israel over $10 million dollars per day of their tax money - far more than to any other nation on earth. This enormous disbursement abroad of American money is rolled over year after year, and is often increased - without any debate whatsoever by our governmental representatives.

3. With this money the Israeli government is maintaining an occupation that has been decreed illegal according to the United States government and international law. This occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights is engendering escalating violence, which is costing the lives of numerous innocent civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian.

4. A multitude of international observers and organizations - from the International Red Cross to UNICEF to Israeli nongovernmental organizations - have reported systemic and continuing violations by Israel of the Geneva Conventions. These violations create desperate reprisals by Palestinian resistance organizations, causing a tragic and growing cycle of violence that inflames the entire region.

5. In 1967 Israeli forces attacked an American naval ship, the USS Liberty, killing 34 American servicemen and injuring 172. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer called this attack "an act of war against the United States of America." For over 30 years the surviving crewmembers of the USS Liberty have long called for a thorough, honest, and open Congressional investigation of the attack that killed their crewmates and maimed many of them. To date, Congress has failed to give these American servicemen the respect of its attention.

6. In 2004 an Israeli military bulldozer crushed to death 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie, who was sitting on the ground in front of a Palestinian family home in an attempt to prevent it from being bulldozed. Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, are asking that the United States investigate their daughter's death by America's close ally.

It is time for the United States to work toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians through the implementation of policies of rationality, morality, and practicality. It is time that American funding be contingent on adherence to international law and American principles. Only through justice and firm resolve will peace be achieved. It is unacceptable for Israel to take American money while disdaining American needs.


1. The United States must end all aid to Israel until it obeys international law. By doing this, Israel will finally take the road to peace that many of its citizens have long called for. In addition, the United States will demonstrate the principles of fairness and democracy that will begin to earn back the respect that our nation traditionally enjoyed in the region.

2. The United States Congress must immediately undertake a fair and thorough investigation of the USS Liberty. This will bring the justice these Americans deserve, and demonstrate to future American servicemen that they will not be abandoned.

3. The United States Congress must call for an immediate and open investigation of Rachel Corrie's death. The Corries, and all Americans, have the right to learn the truth. When Daniel Pearl was killed in Pakistan, American investigators were there within days. Rachel Corrie deserves the same.

For many years, Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been living in tragic fear and violence. As the United States Congress sends more and more aid to Israel, Americans are becoming increasingly embroiled in this conflict and imperiled by its violence. Peace can only come through justice. It is time that America stand up for our principles of equality, inclusion, and fairness. It is time that American policies ensure the right of Israelis and Palestinians to exist in peace. By doing so, we will not only bring peace to this sacred land, we will bring it to our own as well.

Note from the author: This is an old article. Since visiting Israel and the region and having received new information, I have reconsidered some details and particular courses of action named in the article. However, I have four unshakeable beliefs:

  • 1) We stand united for a peaceful, vibrant, safe, strong and democratic state of Israel, our strategic ally in the region,
  • 2) As soon as feasible, we build the same for Palestinians on land that Israel and Palestinians agree to through negotiation,
  • 3) Palestinians are suffering and need help,
  • 4) The Palestinian people need competent representation so that they and Israelis can sit down without international interference to offer a just, equitable and reasonable solution for so that Israelis and Palestinians can enjoy security, autonomy, prosperity and peace.

After peace is signed, Israel won't be the last to accept a Palestinian state, it will be the first.<

- Benjamin Netanyahu

There will be cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian states.

- Mustafa Barghouti

Troops and Veterans

The Federal Government is not equipping all of our military troops adequately.

The Federal Government is not living up to its contractual obligations to our Veterans.

The so-called Feres Doctrine provides no remedy for military troops and veterans for harm they sustained, even when the federal government’s actions were criminally negligent.

As Senator I will...

o Fight to equip, protect and train all of our military troops equally and fully.

o Ensure the federal government lives up to its contractual obligations to our Veterans

o Repeal the provisions of the so-called Feres Doctrine, so that our military troops and Veterans have a legal remedy for government’s actions that are criminally negligent.

War and Peace

-- American Prestige is on the line. The United States military performed brilliantly in 2003 during the combat operations in Iraq, and demonstrated that our All Volunteer Force is the finest military the world has ever seen. But we are losing the real battle, which is for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and world opinion. The prolonged presence of 135,000 American troops (until the end of 2005, says Mr. Rumsfeld) and allegations of torture only deepen the hatred which feeds terrorism in the first place. We must internationalize the rebuilding of Iraq so we may speed the day when US forces are replaced by troops from other nations. The current Administration policy is destined to fail, and at the terrible cost of American lives and prestige.

My four-point suggestion:

-- Complete the handover of sovereignty. America gave its word to hand over the keys on June 30th. We must live up to that pledge.

-- Internationalize the mission. In the lead up to the handover, work with the UN and national leaders to secure a timetable for foreign peacekeeping troops to deploy in Iraq in place of the 135,000 American troops.

-- Bring our forces home by Christmas 2004. Our troops performed brilliantly, but the hatred against us grows with each day. It's time for other nations to step to the plate and join the mission in our place.

-- Then pursue the genuine War on Terrorism. Terrorism is any violent act by a government or group meant to kill or harm innocent civilians. Put against that measure, we must sweep in front of our own doorstep, but sticking to this principle will reduce the hatred against us and make the world more secure for Americans.

And on other points...

-- END THE WAR ON MARIJUANA. We should begin by allowing each state to treat marijuana like alcohol. If that were to occur, California’s taxpayers would save about $1 billion per year in costs spent in its futile attempt to eradicate marijuana (It presently is the largest cash crop in California- number two is grapes) and prosecute and incarcerate non-violent marijuana offenders. In addition, we could generate about $1.5 billion in revenues by strictly regulating and controlling it. And third, marijuana would be less available for children than it is today. Why, because under today’s failed policy, marijuana dealers do not ask for I.D.

-- ROLL BACK THE USA PATRIOT ACT. The Act was wrong when the Administration sent it to Congress. The Congress was wrong to pass it largely unread. The Administration is wrong in implementing the Act in a discriminatory and arrogant fashion. And the Democrats are both wrong and cowardly to "go silent" on the issue. We won the Cold War without surrendering our rights and liberties. We shouldn't hand over our way of life today.

-- REDUCE THE SCALE OF GOVERNMENT. Both the ruling party and the main opposition party are very good at spending money we don't have. To balance the budget and reduce the size of government, all legislation should have a mandatory sunset provision so that every federal agency is required to justify its own existence every five years.

-- STOP THE INVASION OF PRIVACY. Federal police can enter your home, search your private effects, papers and computer information, and then leave without even telling you they have been there. They can also get information about you from libraries, banks, travel agencies, car dealers, casinos, hotels, real estate and insurance agencies, lawyers, pawn brokers and even the post office -- and those agencies are required by law to cooperate, and not to inform you of these actions. Since 2002, requests by the Justice Department for these "FISA" court orders have quadrupled. It's wrong.

-- LET LOCAL GOVERNMENTS DO THEIR JOB. State and local officials are much closer to the ground on virtually every issue. Washington needs to stop sticking its nose into education, healthcare, drug and other policies that are better handled at the local level.

-- IMMIGRATION REFORM. The federal government should reimburse the states for all costs related to the health, education, welfare and incarceration of illegal immigrants. Only when it is required to pay for the costs of failure will the federal government implement a workable and fair immigration system.


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