Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 23, 2013

Lawmakers need to break the mold

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — In April, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down warrantless blood extractions resulting from DUI cases.   Justice Sotomayor wrote the conclusion for the court’s majority, “As an initial matter, States have a broad range of legal tools to enforce their drunk-driving laws and to secure BAC (blood alcohol content) evidence without undertaking warrantless nonconsensual blood withdraws.”

At approximately the same time in April, the West Virginia Legislature passed H.B. 2513, a law pushed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. This legislation allows law enforcement to extract blood samples without a warrant or permission during traffic stops. Unfortunately, Joe Ellington, John Shott and Bill Cole voted in favor of this new law. Marty Gearheart was the only Republican from Mercer County who did not cave under the pressure of Gov. Tomblin and the Democrats.

In short, our representatives held up a law that the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional. Quite frankly, it’s hard to believe. Obviously, we all want DUI laws enforced, and we want West Virginia’s drug problem dealt with appropriately. However, issuing warrants of this nature not only violates the Fourth Amendment, but it requires very “subjective judgment.” Citizens who may have a physical disability or have to take maintenance medication could be mistaken as those “under the influence.”

The law that local Republicans supported not only violates the U.S. Constitution, but it puts innocent, law-abiding citizens at risk. I am very thankful that the U.S. Supreme Court acted with the U.S. Constitution in mind.

When I lived in Mercer County, I voted for all of the above mentioned Republicans to help promote change in Southern West Virginia. I gave them my precious vote to be brave and to stand up for common sense and economic prosperity. I voted for them to have understanding and to do necessary research.   So far, the only thing they have given their constituents is more of the same good ol’ West Virginia politics — uniformed and non-progressive. My vote is precious; I challenge those who call themselves conservative Republicans to focus on the economy versus social issues during the next legislative session.  

Cole, Ellington, and Shott — you have seen what 80-plus years of this behavior has produced. I beg you, become steadfast and break the mold.

Greg Shrewsbury