Normal Topic Senator Edward M. Kennedy, R.I.P. (Read 2885 times)
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Senator Edward M. Kennedy, R.I.P.
Aug 26th, 2009 at 9:23am
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One of the great heroes of polygraph reform has died. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), who succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 77 years, was a co-sponsor of the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act, which severely restricted the ability of private employers in the United States to compel applicants and workers to submit  to lie detector "testing." Before the passage of this legislation, as highlighted in a 1986 CBS 60 Minutes exposé, millions of Americans were routinely forced to submit to the indignity of having their honesty and integrity assessed by this pseudoscientific procedure.

The following is the New York Times' contemporaneous coverage of the passage of this progressive legislation by the U.S. Senate:

March 4, 1988
Senate Votes for Limits On Polygraph Testing
By IRVIN MOLOTSKY, Special to the New York Times

The Senate today approved a bill that would sharply limit the use of polygraphs to screen job applicants or to test employees in private industry. The vote was 69 to 27.

In November the House of Representatives approved a version of the bill that goes even further in restricting the use of polygraphs, or lie detectors, in the workplace. A House-Senate conference is to work out the differences before the bill goes to President Reagan, who threatened to veto the House version.

Leslye Arsht, the deputy White House press secretary, said the Administration found the Senate version more agreeable than the House bill and would work with the conferees to arrive at a bill Mr. Reagan would sign.

This is the furthest that legislation restricting polygraphs has gone since the first bill to limit their use was introduced 25 years ago.

Administration Opposes Ban

The Reagan Administration and many in business oppose a ban on the use of polygraphs, which they say are valuable tools in combating business theft that causes billions of dollars in losses each year.

The tests are viewed as an intrusion on individual liberty by proponents of the ban, which is supported by organized labor, civil liberties organizations and a wide range of members of the Senate, from the liberal Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to the conservative Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.

An earlier test vote had drawn 74 supporters, but opponents stalled the measure. That led the Democratic leader, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, to file a cloture petition today to cut off debate. The Senate then voted to end the debate by 77 to 19.

Senator Kennedy said polygraphs were used on two million workers last year. Asserting that employees should have the right to refuse to submit to polygraph tests, the Senator said the tests did not detect lies at all but rather were ''inaccurate instruments of intimidation.''

''We know that in most applications, the devices cannot be trusted,'' Senator Kennedy said. ''It is time to put an end to their unacceptable misuse that unfairly places so many workers' jobs in jeopardy.''

An official of the Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the ban, said such regulation was best left to the states. Roger E. Middleton, the chamber's counsel for corporate policy, said, ''We believe the polygraph is an invaluable tool to the private sector. It is cost-effective and reliable.''

Those businesses that are most subject to theft, such as those in retail, have generally pressed hardest for use of the polygraph.

The House bill, sponsored by Representative Pat Williams, Democrat of Montana, would virtually ban the use of polygraphs altogether in the private workplace. The only exceptions would be for security guards at sensitive installations and employees of pharmaceutical companies with access to controlled substances.

The Senate bill would ban the use of the polygraph in pre-employment and random testing, which Senator Kennedy said ''make up 85 percent of the testing being conducted today and for which there is no demonstrable validity.''

But the Senate bill would permit the use of a polygraph examination after a theft, with the testing restricted to those who had access to the property and those the employers had reasonable suspicion to believe were involved. Before requesting that an employee be administered the polygraph examination, the employer would have to file a police report, an insurance claim or a report with a regulatory agency.

Restrictions on Questions

Under the Senate bill, Mr. Kennedy said, ''No employee can be disciplined or dismissed for refusing to take the test or for failing the test without additional supporting evidence'' of wrongdoing.

There are several restrictions on what could be asked of polygraph subjects in both bills. For example, in the Senate bill, an employee could not be asked any questions dealing with ''religious beliefs or affiliations, racial matters, sexual behavior, political beliefs and affiliations, beliefs or opinions regarding unions or labor organizations.''

An employer violating the law in either the Senate or House version would be subject to a fine of up to $10,000. The bill would apply to the 29 states that do not have restrictions on the use of polygraphs, since 21 states and the District of Columbia already have such laws. Those state laws with more stringent restrictions would remain in effect. In addition, collective bargaining agreements with more restrictions on the use of the polygraph would also remain in effect.

The states with restrictions already on the books are Connecticut, New Jersey, Alaska, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

New York permits the use of polygraphs but forbids the use of psychological stress evaluators, which are supposed to detect lying through voice tremors.

George W. Maschke
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Senator Edward M. Kennedy, R.I.P.
Reply #1 - Oct 17th, 2009 at 9:01pm
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It will be a REAL tragedy when Ralph Nader dies. Ralph Nader was a TRUE American hero - never being rewarded with a big cushy government position and unlimited spending money like he deserved for the decades of his selfless sacrifice.  Ralph Nader should have and could have been president for 8 years since he ran in 1996.

Had Ralph Nader been elected President, or Cynthia McKinney, we would not even need an website. He would have banned the use of polygraphs in government and private corporations entirely. Boom! Done!

But, the vast majority of americans are lazy and mental inferiors. If the majority of them actually did any work, then they would actually think about the consequences of their actions. For one thing, they would actually worry about how their OWN money is endlessly thrown away by the leaders they repeatedly and thoughtlessly elect - let alone the money and freedom of the few, the poor, who DO fight and struggle for power that these few - like Nader and his supporters - deserve.  The stupid americans, who constitute the vast majority, need to be forced to think. They do not have the mental capacity to flip a little switch or push a button for Nader or Independent or Green or Socialist or even Libertarian and end (among many, many other atrocities of injustice) once and for all the use of polygraphs.
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