Thursday, March 03, 2005

With Scalia, "I dissent"!

The ABB-er with whom I work, (anybody but Bush) and I talked, amicably about the Supremes latest invention. He murmured about the United States' "membership in the world community" and "the changing standards...". This begs the question. Regardless of any" membership in the world community", (I didn't get my membership card) and changing opinions from any other places, from none of those things does it follow that we should change our laws. He was pleased with the ( so called) moral grounding of the decision. If the people of this country wish to change a law about the death penalty, and plant that change in the grounds of moral repugnance, that decision belongs with the states. (Or should be. The Supremes' latest discovery changed that phrase to 'should have been left). Their decision to rule on morality is erroneous! And what, I asked my ABB-er, if the court, citing the world wide popularity of soccer, and the contempt for baseball, held, world wide, by soccer fans, and the superiority of soccers rules, and leagues, and championships, what if they told all American states, cities, and municipalities that all law, regulations, allowances etc. with regard to baseball, were now void? And, heretofore, soccer was the only game allowed, would he agree or disagree with such a decision? No? Lacking a 'moral' dimension, is their decision all that different? "Show me", I said, "where in the Constitution is says the court may base its decisions on morality, and not law. Are five appointed men and women to become our brand of the Saudi Morality Police, letting our laws go up in flames, rather than being allowed to flee the burning building in immoral guise? "

The Text of Scalia's dissent:
Justice Scalia, with whom The Chief Justice and Justice Thomas join, dissenting.

In urging approval of a constitution that gave life-tenured judges the power to nullify laws enacted by the people's representatives, Alexander Hamilton assured the citizens of New York that there waslittle risk in this, since "[t]he judiciary ... ha[s] neither FORCEnor WILL but merely judgment." The Federalist No. 78, p. 465(C. Rossiter ed. 1961). But Hamilton had in mind a traditional judiciary, "bound down by strict rules and precedents which serve to define and point out their duty in every particular case that comes before them." Id., at 471. Bound down, indeed. What a mockerytoday's opinion makes of Hamilton's expectation, announcing theCourt's conclusion that the meaning of our Constitution has changedover the past 15 years--not, mind you, that this Court's decision15 years ago was wrong, but that the Constitution has changed. The Court reaches this implausible result by purporting to advert, not to the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment, but to"the evolving standards of decency," ante, at 6 (internal quotation marks omitted), of our national society. It then finds, on the flimsiest of grounds, that a national consensus whichcould not be perceived in our people's laws barely 15 years ago now solidly exists. Worse still, the Court says in so many words that what our people's laws say about the issue does not, in the last analysis, matter: "[I]n the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment." Ante, at 9 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards--and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent.
Addenda: From the fine blog, Sons of the Republic and his post on the same nonsense, his words and some from Anthony 'the improviser' Kennedy:
I have a problem with the precedent cited by the SCOTUS, specifically that of Justice Anthony Kennedy, in reaching the Majority Opinion. I quote directly from yesterday's ruling (available from the SCOTUS website in PDF form):
"The overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty is not controlling here, but provides respected and significant confirmation for the Court’s determination that the penalty is disproportionate punishment for offenders under 18. See, e.g., Thompson, supra, at 830–831, and n. 31. The United States is the only country in the world that continues to give official sanction to the juvenile penalty. It does not lessen fidelity to the Constitution or pride in its origins to acknowledge that the express affirmation of certain fundamental rights by other nations and peoples underscores the centrality of those same rights within our own heritage of freedom."
I could quote further, as Justice Kennedy goes on to cite "world" law another 16 times in his opinion. With due respect to Justice Kennedy, I would like to remind him that he is a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Should he wish to rule on international issues, I believe he should resign from his current position and pursue an appointment to the World Court.

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