worry about the “rights” of criminalsnwhen the persons and property of allnof us are at risk every day in a rising tidenof crime. It is almost as if the currentnprocedures of criminal law are designedndeliberately to encourage street criminalsnand to weaken defenses against crime.nBut to make such an assertion would bento lay oneself open to the gravest chargenin the lexicon of the modern academic:nof falling prey to the “conspiracy theorynof history.”nOnce disposed of the bogey of “proceduralnrights,” other methods of swiftnpunishment, of “taking the law into one’snown hands,” that have had a strong traditionnin American history but have hadnbad press in recent years, can be disinterrednand resurrected. “Vigilante justice”nworked far better, and far more smoothly,nthan has been credited by modem propaganda.nBut whether justice be done bynthe armed citizenry or by the police, letnit be done, and done swiftly.nMurray N. Rothbard is a professornof economics at the University of LasnVegas and vice-president for academicnaffairs at the Ludwig von MisesnInstitute.nVagrancy Lawnby Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.nSan Francisco’s municipal palace looksnlike the Wicked Witch of the Westnmight live there, only there aren’t any flyingnmonkeys. But several years ago, thenmonkeys set up housekeeping right outnfront. Supplied with food, clothing, tents,nand other amenities by “communitynactivists,” hundreds of wild-eyed trampsnextorted money from passersby, drankncheap wine, urinated and vomited onnthe sidewalk, rutted in public, collectednjunk, and cooked their hobo cuisine overnopen fires. They did everything, in fact,nbut bathe. It was Mad Max Goes Homeless.nLeft-wing Mayor Art Agnos was popularnwith all of San Francisco’s specialninterests, from Forests Forever to Dykesnon Bikes. But when he allowed vagrantsnand beggars —most of whom have criminalnrecords, are crazy, and are alcoholicsnor dmg addicts—not merely to roam thenstreets but to set up a Bushville on somenof the most expensive real estate in America,nhe was the ex-mayor at the next elec­ntion. The new mayor is a former policenchief and, in Bay Area terms, a membernof the hard right. Frarik Jordan hasnpromised to sweep the streets as well asnCity Hall Plaza, but he will have his workncut out for him; like every other local officialnin this country, he faces court mlingsnthat empower the bums and disarm thencops.nBefore the Supreme Court guttednvagrancy laws in 1972, the police werenfree—in the wonderful words of a Jacksonville,nFlorida, ordinance—to roust ornarrest “rogues and vagabonds, or dissolutenpersons who go about begging,n.. . common drunkards,. .. lewd, wanton,nand lascivious persons, common railersnand brawlers, persons wandering ornstrolling around from place to place withoutnany lawful purpose or object, habitualnloafers, disorderly persons… personsnable to work but habitually living uponnthe earnings of their wives or minor children.”nIt was a law with more than sixncenturies of tradition behind it. By allowingnvagrants to be punished with up ton90 days in jail, it kept the streets of Jacksonvillensafer and more decent. But thatnordinance and all similar laws werendeclared unconstitutional in a decisionnwritten by William O. Douglas. It wasnthe sort of sweeping act of judicial imperialismnwe have come to take for granted,nbut which violates the letter and spiritnof the Constitution. Local laws arennone of the Supreme Court’s business.nThe central government has legitimatenjurisdiction only over the District ofnColumbia’s vagrancy laws. It’s easy to seenwhy the feds might want to obviate thatnresponsibility, however. Arresting “habitualnloafers” would not only clear thenstreets, it would empty most of the buildingsnin D.C.nDouglas called the Jacksonville statutenarchaic and vague and said it encouragednarbitrary arrests and allowed too muchnpolice discretion. He cited Walt Whitman’snrotten “Song of the Open Road”nand noted that Puerto Rican governornLuis Muiioz-Marin called loafing an”national virtue” to be “encouraged.”nHow, Douglas asked, can loafing be anvirtue in the land of palm trees and welfare,nand be “a crime in Jacksonville”?nNor, he said, can a law aimed at “so-callednundesirables” be constitutional, sincenit violates “equality.” Laws “evenly appliednto minorities as well as majorities, tonthe poor as well as the rich” are the “greatnmucilage that holds society together.”nBut this is nonsense. Justice means “tonnneach his own,” not some crazed leveling.nThe police must be allowed to treat differentnpeople differently. An experiencedncop knows exactly who isnsuspicious and ought to be questioned,nwho ought to be moved along with ansharp word, who ought to receive a tapnon the shin with a billy club as he isnsent to the Bowery, and who ought to benarrested. Some bums should be givennsecond and third chances, others not:nWhen the police could use their ownnjudgment about arresting vagrants —nwhom only morons and liberals could seenas desirable—our streets were, by today’snstandards, idyllic.nNot too long ago, I left a good hotel onnCapitol Hill to walk to my car and wasnsurrounded by seven or eight “street people”ndemanding cash. It was dusk, nonone else was around, and they exudednthat motiveless racial malignity that characterizesnthe underclass. That experiencenwas, of course, nothing unusual. In everynmajor American city, bums rule. It wasn’tnonly the Bush depression that lowerednretail sales last Christmas. Aggressiventramps thronged big-city shopping areas,nkeeping many women shoppers away.nThanks to the federal courts, aggressivenderelicts live in airports, train stations,subways,andnATM vestibules.nOne federal judge mled that the wall-towallnbums in New York City’s Penn Stationncannot be ousted. Another claimednthat begging in the subways is constitutionallynprotected as “free expression.”nStill another said that a malodorousntramp could not be shown the door of anNew Jersey public library, even thoughnhe was making everyone sick to his stomachnand terrorizing little children with hisnlunatic stare. The city has agreed tonpay this man $150,000 if he and thenACLU (who else?) promise to bring nonmore suits about his “rights.” In the goodnold days, he would have been tossed outnof the library and onto the sidewalk and,nif he persisted, into the pokey.nVagrancy laws originated in Englandnin 1349, with Edward Ill’s Statute ofnLaborers. The Black Death had cut thensupply of workers and therefore raisedntheir wages. The king sought to hindernthis process by making it illegal for exserfsnto move from town to town to seeknhigher wages. That was special interestnlegislation of the worst sort, but there wasna legitimate aspect to the law as well: thensocial breakdown that accompanied thenBlack Death had led to a vast increase inncrime, especially wandering “wickednMAY 1992/49n