Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Credit Where Credit is Due (SCOTUS Edition)

Three decisions from the Supreme Court have caught my attention lately, The DC gun ban case, of course, the case where terrorist sons of bitches were given rights, and the case where Louisiana's death penalty for child rapists was struck down (replaced with castration at least).

I've already cheered for the demise of the DC gun ban and the triumph (sort of) of the Second Amendment. On the other hand, I'm hoping the pieces of shit currently housed at Gitmo are forced to walk to the US for their appeals (water not withstanding). And as for sick fucks that rape kids, I'd personally start with some good old torture. I'd go on, but good Christian people read this, and I think my spicy language is enough; the gore would overwhelm.

As it stands, there are four strict constructionists/conservatives on the Court: Chief Justice Robers and Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito. There are four progressives/liberals on the court: Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer. That leaves, sitting squarely in the middle and wielding damn-near godlike power over the Constitution, Justice Anthony M Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who has not exactly lived up to expectations (though not the horrible mistakes that Stevens (appointed by Ford) and Souter (appointed by HW Bush) turned out to be.

Now in all three cases I mentioned above, Kennedy was the deciding member. of the Court. And while I agree with the gun verdict and am sickened (more by reprieve for child fuckers than the terrorists) by the other decisions, I did have a thought. In all three cases, Justice Kennedy did side in favor of individual rights over government power: Individual terrorists over the war machine, evil, perverted individuals over a (justifiably) vindictive state, and the individual right to bear arms over laws designed to disarm the populace.

Even in utter disagreement over two verdicts, this more libertarian approach (favoring the individual over the state) to jurisprudence does give me a measure of respect for his decisions. I would rather have a Justice who errs on the side of the individual rather than one who will vote to empower an imperial state to usurp more power unto itself.

So while disappointment (and a desire to make waterboarding good, clean fun by comparison to what I'd do to the kiddie diddlers) is often a part of the picture when the Supreme Court tells us what the Constitution means, I'm glad that the man pissing us off half the time is Justice Anthony M Kennedy.


Name: Soapboxgod said...

"Justice Anthony M Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who has not exactly lived up to expectations (though not the horrible mistakes that Stevens (appointed by Ford) and Souter (appointed by HW Bush) turned out to be."

It is the aforementioned, which I've previously referred to in conjunction with the fact that Democrats control the House and Senate at present, which proves the weak argument with respect to John McCain and Supreme Court appointees. Even if his want for strict appointees were genuine, he faces an uphill battle without question.

What's more, Stevens is the only appointee likely to step down in 4 years. So, as I've said before, worst case scenario is you replace a liberal justice with another liberal.

Toad734 said...

Well now you are starting to see the flaws of conservative logic. They are for free speech and the fist amendment when it comes to their religion and their speech, not when it allows Muslims, porn kings, artists who don't like Jesus, movies, television, news, etc. to exercise their rights.

I wish they would do terrible things to child rapists but I will only say that until the day I am falsly accused of being a child rapist. And by the way what's a child rapist?? By law, a child rapist is an 18 year old who has sex with his 16 year old girlfriend. My girlfriend is 3 years younger than me and my last one was 5 years younger. So are they to be castrated and killed as well?

Just as they are for their civil rights, they aren't for the civil rights of criminals. Just as they want say they don't want the government, state or otherwise telling them what they can do and how they can live they don't blink an eye at not permitting an adult video store in their town or prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays or every day of the week for that matter. Just as they don't mind imposing their religious views on the rest of the society they flip their shit when someone tries to impose their views on their children or even challenge their imposition of their religious culture. Just as they want a small limited government with a free market, they flip their shit when their homes are worth less than what they paid for them, when their SUVs have now become too expensive to drive or their tomatoes get salmonella contamination. Just as they talk about a small government they have no problems putting more money into stealth bombers and submarines and creating the strongest military on the planet but still think their handgun is going to protect them from a tyrannous government.

The reason you don't agree with him is because you don't know the law, he does. You are not a lawyer, he is. He was right that in fact, the second amendment is in the constitution, while its there, he has to interpret it the best he knows how. Unlike Christian justice, we don't kill people in this country for disobeying their parents, robbing their neighbor’s stereo and even raping children. We also can't imprison someone without charging them, that’s the process of law you expect, why should they be any different. This could become one of the largest abuses of federal power since the incarceration of Japanese during WW2. If the people we have in there are terrorists and we know it, then why the fear of putting them on trial and or charging them. You wouldn't like if you decided to take a vacation to Munich and ended up in the wrong place and the government incarcerated you for 4 years with no charges would you? I am not saying these people are guilty or they are not but how many thousands of innocents have been freed from prison because the investigators had the wrong guy? Imagine adding 5000 miles and a language and cultural barrier and see what you come up with. Just because it is only happening to them now, doesn't mean it can't happen to you. I am sure the Gypsies said the same thing about the Jews during the late 30s and 40s.

Patrick M said...

No Soap For You!: That's ANOTHER reason I have to not have to vote for McCain. Yay.

Toad: I see flaws in politicians on both sides. And my ability to see a logic in Kennedy's swinging proves that.

By child rapist, I'm talking about true adults diddling 9-year-olds and the like. There has to be specific and extreme circumstances, which were the case in the aforementioned decision. When we're talking an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old sneaking off and fucking because they're in 'looooooove' (insert gagging noise), different rules should apply.

Now obviously, you seem to be under the impression that I easily support those 'Christian conservatives' for whom you possess such excessive vitriol. I have many problems with the limits put on our freedom by those zealots. However, I usually end up voting that direction because the Democrats offer more big government solutions than the GOP (although with a McCain administration, it's more a matter of degree). But on the court, this activism is what is costing us more and more freedom.

The reason you don't agree with him is because you don't know the law, he does. You are not a lawyer, he is.

Okay, does his specific training give him that much clearer of an understanding than mine?

Sometimes, it's a matter of distilling things down to essence. I have not read the other decisions, so I don't know the specifics. So let me just throw out my opinion based on what I know.

Death for child rapists: The decision was that this violated the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Like most amendments, there's some interpretation required. For a death penalty case involving child rape, it would require several things: a prepubescent child, a clear string of evidence of the abuse, including physical evidence, and testimony as to the damage done to the child, both physical and emotional. Our laws do allow for death in cases of capital murder. The difference in the cases is that with the child rape, the child is not dead, but their innocent life is effectively destroyed. The danger of this precedent is that it diminishes the right of the states to determine a fair punishment for an extreme violation of a child's rights.

As for the Gitmo terrorists: I base my thoughts on the fact that these were people captured on the battlefield, in foreign lands, and that we are still engaged in the war. If they were captured in this country, then they would certainly be entitled to every Constitutional right we offer. Now they are entitled to basic human rights, of course, as well as some legal protections. However, where is the line between full Constitutional protections and the ability of our armed forces to conduct war in foreign countries. This decision blurs that line. Also, (irrelevant to the decision, but important to your argument) our enemy knows how to use our legal system against us. We are, in effect, handing them weapons.

As I said, I haven't read the specifics, so this is off the top of my head. But the law should not be designed to where a thinking man can't grasp both the theory and practical application. Otherwise, we subject ourselves to rule by the legal class.

Toad734 said...

But the definition of child rape is the same for 18 and 16 year olds and 35 and 9 year olds. Sure a jury will look at them differently but the definition is the same. If you are 18 and have sex with a 16 year old you are a registered sex offender and your picture goes up on the website along with the 35 year olds who bang their 1 year old sons. I am sure the guidelines for the death penalty in those cases are different just as they are in all death penalty cases. For instance, in Maryland you are eligible for the death penalty only if there are aggravating circumstances such as drugs or a robbery. But that can even be argued, it’s not always black and white.

Again, I am not defending child rapists, I personally think they should be strung up by their balls in the middle of downtown and let the public do to them what they please. That’s just me but we don't live under Henry the Longshanks and this isn't 1300s England.

I mean, most 6 year olds think unicorns come to play with them and that they have magic cloaks which turn them into vampires, can you always trust their testimonies? Sure there are some slam dunk cases, if you get caught with 8 penises in your freezer, you gotta go but us since we are the last Western Nation to have the death penalty, and I think we already kill plenty of people per year and guess what, it hasn't prevented crime. In fact, look at the countries without the death penalty and their crime rates vs. the ones with the death penalty. I think you will find that the countries with the death penalty have more murderers, not fewer. How can this be if the punishment for murder is death?

As for Gitmo, no all these guys weren't captured on a battlefield with plans for 9/11 hidden in their socks. Jose Padilla wasn't captured on a foreign battlefield. Padilla was an American citizen whom they held without charges. That could have been you. Criminals have been using our legal system for years; ever hear of temporary insanity? This is nothing new, no system is perfect.

The laws are written in fairly plain English, especially for a lawyer. It's the application and interpretation of these laws and the constitutionality of these laws where we need the experts. Any hillbilly can make a plain English law that at 4pm on every Wednesday every business must be shut down for an hour of Bible study. You can't challenge that on your own and the police have every right to arrest you for breaking that law, until you get a lawyer who can challenge the constitutionality of that law in our legal system and has the tools to do so. So yes, his training does give him a clearer understanding that what either you or I could have.

Patrick M said...

Toad: That's why the law has to be written narrowly enough to protect kids and new adults and only apply to the slam-dunk cases. This is why the zero-tolerance laws sometimes don't work. Generally, I have faith that the system does work (except for maybe OJ) so even rulings I think are wrong don't bother me, until subsequent criminal acts prove my instincts right.

As for Gitmo, justice is generally served. Last time I checked, Jose Padilla was tried and convicted in civilian court. Looks like the system is working to me. Padilla was improperly transferred, hell was raised, and he was returned. Don't see the problem.

In the end, I'll put my brain side by side with Kennedy's training. I have confidence in myself that I will measure up.

Toad734 said...

Padilla was held for many months without charges and only when a Judge told the administration they had to charge him or set him free did they come up with charges. Sure, maybe since you are white they couldn't have gotten away with that if it happened to you bu never say never. The system did not work with Padilla, he should have been charged in the same time frame I would be charged in a DUI.

Patrick M said...

Uh, the system did work. Yes, he was held for months, but the situation was corrected in the end. Not that the system works perfectly, especially when things are blurred by political and war issues, but in the end, justice was done.

Our system works because mistakes get corrected, the innocent sometimes go free, and there are people who stand up even for the lowest scum in and out of the country. Plop Padilla's kind of case in an Islamic country and see how fast he ends up dead without a trial.