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lindagray

Legal issues : Gun control, Death penalty, Torture, USA PATRIOT Act & Right to privacy

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Legal issues
Gun control

With a stated goal of reducing crime and homicide, the Democratic Party has introduced various gun control measures, most notably the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Brady Bill of 1993 and Crime Control Act of 1994. However, some Democrats, especially rural, Southern, and Western Democrats, favor fewer restrictions on firearm possession and warned the party was defeated in the 2000 presidential election in rural areas because of the issue. In the national platform for 2008, the only statement explicitly favoring gun control was a plan calling for renewal of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

Death penalty
The Democratic Party supports the death penalty far less than the Republican Party. Although most Democrats in Congress have never seriously moved to overturn the rarely used federal death penalty, both Russ Feingold and Dennis Kucinich have introduced such bills with little success. Democrats have led efforts to overturn state death penalty laws, particularly in New Jersey and in New Mexico. They have also sought to prevent the reinstatement of the death penalty in those states which prohibit it, including Massachusetts and New York. During the Clinton administration, Democrats led the expansion of the federal death penalty. These efforts resulted in the passage of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, signed into law by President Clinton, which heavily limited appeals in death penalty cases.

In 1992, 1993 and 1995, Democratic Texas Congressman Henry González unsuccessfully introduced the Death Penalty Abolition Amendment which prohibited the use of capital punishment in the United States. Democratic Missouri Congressman William Lacy Clay, Sr. cosponsored the amendment in 1993.

During his Illinois Senate career, former President Barack Obama successfully introduced legislation intended to reduce the likelihood of wrongful convictions in capital cases, requiring videotaping of confessions. When campaigning for the presidency, Obama stated that he supports the limited use of the death penalty, including for people who have been convicted of raping a minor under the age of 12, having opposed the Supreme Court's ruling in Kennedy v. Louisiana that the death penalty was unconstitutional in child rape cases. Obama has stated that he thinks the "death penalty does little to deter crime" and that it is used too frequently and too inconsistently.

In June 2016, the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee unanimously adopted an amendment to abolish the death penalty, marking the first time the party had done so in its history.

Torture
Many Democrats are opposed to the use of torture against individuals apprehended and held prisoner by the United States military and hold that categorizing such prisoners as unlawful combatants does not release the United States from its obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Democrats contend that torture is inhumane, decreases the United States' moral standing in the world and produces questionable results. Democrats largely spoke out against waterboarding.

Torture became a very divisive issue in the party after Barack Obama was elected President. Many centrist Democrats and members of the party's leadership supported the use of torture while the liberal wings continued to be steadfastly opposed to it.

USA PATRIOT Act
Many Democrats are opposed to the Patriot Act, but when the law was passed most Democrats were supportive of it and all but two Democrats in the Senate voted for the original Patriot Act legislation in 2001. The lone nay vote was from Russ Feingold of Wisconsin as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana did not vote. In the House, the Democrats voted for the Act by 145 yea and 62 nay. Democrats split on the renewal in 2006. In the Senate, Democrats voted 34 for the 2006 renewal and nine against. In the House, Democrats voted 66 voted for the renewal, and 124 against.

Right to privacy
The Democratic Party believes that individuals should have a right to privacy. For example, many Democrats have opposed the NSA warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

Some Democratic officeholders have championed consumer protection laws that limit the sharing of consumer data between corporations. Most Democrats oppose sodomy laws and believe that government should not regulate consensual noncommercial sexual conduct among adults as a matter of personal privacy.

wikipedia.org

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