A question for Bill Sorrell

To the Editor:

Bill Sorrell seeks our votes for re-election as Vermont Attorney General. But isn't the Attorney General supposed to protect our Constitutional freedoms?

In State v. Bryant, a 2008 decision concerning the use of federal helicopters to detect marijuana plants, Mr. Sorrell argued to the Vermont Supreme Court that it was Constitutional for federal helicopters to fly at very low altitudes looking for pot in our backyards. The Court ruled that the search in that case was unconstitutional.

When our Supreme Court ruled that gay people have a Constitutional right to marry, Town Clerks who refused to issue civil union licenses were quickly fired. Yet Mr. Sorrell's low-flying helicopters are routinely overhead, in blatant violation of our rights and in flagrant disregard of the Court's ruling in Bryant.

And when Orleans County Sheriff Dan Locke searched a Barton residence even after discovering he had no warrant for that address, Mr. Sorrell publicly backed this clearly illegal conduct, standing blindly behind police power at the expense of our vital Constitutional rights.

So Bill Sorrell: will you commit to opposing the violation of our rights by intrusive helicopter or police searches? As noted by our Supreme Court in Bryant, the purpose of Article 11 of the Vermont Constitution "...is to protect personal privacy and dignity against unwarranted intrusion by the state. It requires that the state temper its efforts to apprehend criminals with a concern for the impact of its methods on our fundamental liberties.... We protect defendant's marijuana plots against such surveillance so that law-abiding citizens may relax in their backyards, enjoying a sense of security that they are free from unreasonable surveillance."

That "sense of security" is most surely absent now: our black-choppered federal government routinely menaces us with the active assistance of our State Attorney General, four years after our Supreme Court specifically informed him that such searches were unconstitutional. Now Bill Sorrell seeks our votes for re-election as Vermont Attorney General? WTF?

John Klar

Irasburg, Vt.

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