When the 9th Circuit Court Gets it Right
By Scott Editor | Scott's Archive
December 05, 2003

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is touted as the most liberal court in America. Every ruling they issue is heavily monitored and often unanimously overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The 9th Court is specifically notorious for its drug rulings, and many elites in the media, like Bill O'Reilly, continue to hammer away at the court's decision to throw out the conviction of an Idaho man who was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana.

"Item, in 2002, the Ninth ruled that people in Idaho could drive under the influence of marijuana. Unbelievable." -- Bill O'Reilly The O'Reilly Factor (12/03/03)

Citizens against the use of drugs and/or its legalization are not happy with this ruling, but when you look at the case, which O'Reilly never does, you see that the court had no other choice. When you look at the case, you realize that the court's decision was the only logical one to make.

On September 27, 1998, a motorist was pulled over for a broken tailgate light, but when the officer found that he had smoked marijuana earlier that day, the man was arrested under the Idaho impaired driving law because the officer mistakenly thought that marijuana was a narcotic. The man passed two sobriety tests indicating that the marijuana he smoked earlier in the day had no affect on his driving.

The court studied the law which simply states that it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol and narcotics. Well, marijuana isn't an alcohol nor a narcotic, thus the motorist shouldn't have been arrested on that charge.

Keep in mind, no cannabis was found on him or in his car. So what can you arrest him for, having smoked marijuana in the past? That's not legal, and neither is arresting someone for being high, because marijuana isn't covered under DUI laws.

Don't like it, then fix it! It's up to the state's legislature to add marijuana next to alcohol and narcotics. But because current law does not forbid someone from driving while high, the court cannot legally add that provision into the law. The Court is not a lawmaking body; it is not an enforcing body. The Court interprets, and there’s no way to interpret this case to favor the state. Having smoked marijuana and being arrested because it's illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol and narcotics is like getting a ticket for running a red light when there aren't any traffic signals at the intersection!

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't always get things right, but it made the right decision here. The problem is that the cultural conservatives in this country absolutely refuse to look into the facts of the case. On paper, it looks bad that a court would let a man walk free after being caught high on the roads, but what is the court supposed to do when there's no law in that state that makes it illegal?

But members of the conservative media call this ruling a victory for the drug users. In an angry rant, O'Reilly finishes a statement with: "…and that motorists, get this, motorists (says the court) should not be prosecuted if they drive high on marijuana."

Maybe O'Reilly doesn't understand this, but judges don't have an opinion on what people should and should not do. They're only supposed to be concerned with the written laws and if they've been broken. In the case of a man high on marijuana, he did not break a law that forbids driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. It could very well be that the judges who ruled in the case oppose marijuana and want restrictive laws on the substance; either way, it's not their job to create laws.

More info on the Idaho law can be found here.

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