portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

human & civil rights


Civil Rights and Liberties in Dean's Vermont

Dean recently has strongly criticized the Patriot Act and Ashcroft. Dean's record reveals that his policy in Vermont was to appoint judges that would ignore "legal technicalities" (i.e. the Bill of Rights). He publicly stated this policy in a 1997 Vermont Press Bureau interview. His record shows that he appointed anti-civil-rights judges. Dean increased prison funding 150% during his tenure in Vermont. Dean called for "a re-evaluation of the importance of some of our specific civil liberties" post 9-11. Dean will say anything to gather votes, regardless of his record and what his true feelings are concerning an issue.

Dean's closest friend and favorite appointee, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, is currently fighting vigorously in the federal courts to allow Vermont to close courthouses to the press and citizens for any reason without hearing, court findings, trial or Due Process in direct contravention of First Amendment requirements concerning closure of courtrooms. According to Sorrell, simply criticizing the government or reporting on court corruption can justify banishment for life from Vermont courthouses. Dean and Sorrell's courthouse secrecy policy can be invoked with unfettered discretion by a single government employee based upon the way one looks, the way one thinks, one's political views or any other arbitrary standard without opportunity for the banished persons to challenge the sanction consistent with Due Process. This is civil rights in Vermont after Dean finished his appointments.

Dean's covert implementation of a Vermont Patriot Act in the 1990s by simply appointing anti-Bill-of-Rights judges and placing Sorrell in the Attorney General's office is far worse than any piece of federal legislation now in place. Unlike legislation, Dean's covert Vermont Patriot Act can not be repealed or modified and it oppresses Vermonters to this day. Whatever one's opinion of the Patriot Act, it was at least done in public view. Dean chose to oppress the people of Vermont and subvert the Bill of Rights in secrecy behind closed doors via appointments. He now claims to be a civil liberties champion.

Dean's criticism of Ashcroft is a sham and directly contradicts his record in Vermont. His conduct in Vermont was far worse than any allegations he directs at Ashcroft.

-- Scott Huminski

Supportive links embedded below.