at last count, there were 4,237,023 probationers in the united states. on friday, they all found a hero in judge andrew j. kleinfeld of the u.s. court of appeals for the ninth circuit.
the circuit court ruled in united states v. betts (no. 06-50205) that probationers cannot be banned from alcohol use unless their crimes had something to do with drinking. writing for a unanimous panel, judge kleinfeld stepped up strong in defense of certain fundamental and near-sacred rights:
"consumption of alcohol does not rise to the dignity of our sacred liberties, such as freedom of speech, but the freedom to drink a beer while sitting in a recliner and watching a football game is nevertheless a liberty people have, and it is probably exercised by more people than the liberty to publish a political opinion."
the ruling comes just in time for the holidays and the playoffs.