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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Freedom is a condition that exists under a government of limited power.

Government is not rhetoric, George Washington said, government is force.

How we permit that force to be used, in a government that exists by the consent of the governed, is the subject of permanent debate in a free society.

In my view, we should take our laws seriously, or we should take them off the books. It is inappropriate, even dangerous, to have laws that we don't sincerely want enforced, just because we feel it makes a moral statement to have the law on the books.

That leads to selective enforcement of the law, which brings with it a lot of unintended and terrible consequences, both for individuals and for our society.

For this reason, I support the legalization of the use and sale of marijuana by adults. That doesn't mean I recommend the use and sale of marijuana. But to criminalize marijuana use, when so many responsible adults find it to be helpful, is to assign an enormous penalty to an activity that Californians don't generally believe warrants an enormous penalty. Our country tried a ban on "intoxicating liquors" in 1919 and repealed it in 1933. Prohibition created a huge and lucrative illegal market which was exploited by organized crime, leading to a massive expansion of federal law enforcement. The consequences are still with us.

Incidentally, Prohibition required a constitutional amendment because the federal government does not have the power under the U.S. Constitution to regulate alcohol. As your representative in Sacramento, I will defend the constitutionally protected choices of the people of California against law enforcement overreach by the federal government.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women have a right to privacy in the first trimester of pregnancy, and since that time, states have been prohibited from criminalizing abortion in those early months. I support this decision. I understand and respect the views of those who believe abortion at any stage of pregnancy is the taking of human life. The question for the government, however, is not whether abortion is right, but whether it is criminal. In my view, abortion in early pregnancy cannot be against the law.

The right to marry is another subject that the courts increasingly are deciding for our society. There are deep divisions of opinion and sometimes of religious doctrine that have not yet been bridged. In my view, the right to the pursuit of happiness applies equally to everybody. I support the right of individuals to marry the person they love.


Susan Shelley for Assembly
FPPC ID #1355796
20121 Ventura Blvd., Suite 206
Woodland Hills, CA 91364