"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Monday, June 10, 2013

Great American Public Servant - Judge Alex Kozinski

"Those of you who've had the good fortune to be born in the United States simply have not known the absence of freedoms..."

- Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

It's always a good exercise to listen to and celebrate faithful public servants who remind us of the importance of our Constitution, and the importance of our liberties.  Judge Kozinski's story is particularly interesting, as he grew up in a time when political dissidents from other countries left to escape their governments, and to seek asylum in America.  This is in striking contrast to the news today, where an American citizen has left America to escape the American government, and is seeking asylum in a foreign country.  The experiences of this great American federal judge are very relevant to America today, and he shares his views on our Constitution and the Fourth Amendment and surveillance and privacy, after about twenty minutes into the video interview above.

The bio presented on the YouTube video introduces the judge:
Born in 1950 to Holocaust survivors, Kozinski grew up as a committed communist in Bucharest, Romania. On his first trip outside of the Iron Curtain, in Vienna, Austria, he experienced forbidden luxuries like bubble gum and bananas. It was his first taste of freedom, and it caused him to become, in his words, "an instant capitalist."

Today, Kozinski is responsible for some of the most influential - and controversial - legal decisions in the United States. Kozinski's rulings have challenged the Obama administration over the issue of same-sex marriage. In a case that tested the limits of parody and artistic expression, he has weighed in on whether a Barbie doll qualifies as a sex object. In one of the most influential dissents in recent memory, he caused federal prosecutors to drop all charges against a defendant who'd been convicted of smuggling of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexican border.

Kozinski sat down with Reason editor-in-chief Matt Welch during Reason Weekend in Las Vegas for a wide-ranging discussion about freedom and the law. How do mobile phones and cloud computing affect our right to privacy? Why do judges interpret the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution so broadly? What's wrong with the practice of jury nullification?

Kozinski, a self-described libertarian, answers these questions, and many others, with the insight and wry humor that comes from decades of experience on the bench - and a childhood under communism.

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