RALEIGH – If left to their own devices, most politicians are perfectly content to enable the growth of Big Government and enabling of Big Brother programs. That seemed to be the case with a bill to install license plate readers across the Old North State’s highways for purposes of tracking wanted criminals….or anyone. The bill actually passed the N.C. House, until it was brought back to the floor for reconsideration and was defeated.
The defeat of this Big Brother bill is owed largely to a select group of state lawmakers that take our God-given rights and Constitutional limitations on government very, very seriously. Reps. Michael Speciale (R-Craven), Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort), and Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus), among others, lead the charge against this bill on the grounds that it was, if not an outright violation of constitutional principles, was at the very least a slippery slope toward government intrusions that have no place in a free society.
“The readers, which capture images of tag numbers on passing vehicles and feed them to databases of vehicles being sought by law enforcement, are used in some North Carolina cities already. But sponsors say they need to be across the state to improve the chance of catching criminals on the run or seniors with mental impairments who drove off and didn’t return home.
A short time after the House voted 59-57 in favor of the bill, it was brought back for reconsideration and was defeated 47-69.
Privacy advocates expressed concern that the plate readers could be used to track the movements of law-abiding citizens.
“I want to help law enforcement. I really do. But I don’t want to give up my liberty, and I don’t want to give up the liberty of the people I represent,” said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven. […]”
Even though the bill is undoubtedly well-intentioned — sponsors want to catch people that have committed crimes, or abducted children — the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Those intentions merely smooth the path for government to incrementally violate individual rights until such a point that they are lost completely.
The Patriot Act, the NSA, National Gun Registry – all are examples of government that is too big and too intrusive, but justified by proponents for the apparent good they can do. But are we really supposed to trust the government to limit itself? Reps. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus) and Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) certainly don’t, and for good reason.
“Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, predicted an Orwellian future for North Carolina residents with plate readers used to help government keep tabs on citizens.
“I do sincerely not trust the government,” Pittman said. “I do sincerely fear what types of things might be done with this capability down the road.” […]
“We’re dying the death of 1,000 cuts,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, noting that the House last week passed a measure allowing some warrantless wiretaps. “We’re handing away our rights one piece at a time, and at some point, we’ll get to where we don’t have any.”
These lawmakers, going against the grain on Jones Street to stand up for liberty and limited government deserve to be applauded. It is not only their district constituents that benefit from preventing bigger and more intrusive government, but all North Carolinians.
More stands like this are needed on Jones Street, and especially Washington, D.C. Unfortunately too many politicians, Republicans included, are more interested in expanding government powers or creating new government programs. Fortunately, this time a core group of liberty-minded state lawmakers were able to slow that expansion, but if they don’t get reinforcements in Raleigh over the next few election cycles it’s only a matter of time before Big Brother takes hold again.
Read more from WRAL here.