Friday, March 04, 2005

Why I Will Not Be Reasonable

On Wednesday, Laura Ingraham was bitching about the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 1989 ruling that allowed the execution of minors aged 16 and 17. Apparently, Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, cited the standards and laws of Western Europe and the rest of the industrialized world in his opinion. Ingraham could not get over the fact that Kennedy had "used foreign law to make his ruling instead of the constitution" and that "liberals pick-and-choose what foreign laws to cite to back up the conclusion they have already come to."

If, indeed, Kennedy had made his ruling entirely or even primarily based on foreign law rather than the Constitution, I would agree with Ingraham. But Kennedy's ruling is simply informed by the fact that the rest of the Western world has repudiated capital punishment, not determined by it. Kennedy based his ruling on the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the 8th Amendment of the Constitution, not foreign law.

Now, there are a lot of questions and issues about how Kennedy arrived at such a decision and by what criteria such decisions are made which are legitimate topics of discussion. But, as usual, Ingraham and the conservatives don't discuss those, because subtle discussions of law don't get the rank-and-file all fired up. Instead, they focus on something that they think will get their constituency pissed off and fired up: "Activist" judges making rulings based on the laws of other countries.

So here's where I will not be reasonable. Ingraham may be right. Kennedy may have decided he wanted to rule against capital punishment for minors and then sought a legal argument that would allow him to make that ruling. And, under normal circumstances, I would agree with her that that is wrong, even though it produced the correct result.

Screw that. Ingraham can shove this ruling up her ass as far as I am concerned, because she doesn't give two shits about how this ruling was made. She only cares about the outcome, just like she accuses others of.

In a recent book written by several Supreme Court clerks about the 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore, we learn that Scalia openly pressured his fellow justices to find arguments that would let them rule in Bush's favor. That is to say, Scalia did not care about the merits of Bush's case at all. He had decided to rule in Bush's favor regardless of whether the law supported Bush's case (it didn't). In other words, he did exactly what Ingraham was accusing Kennedy of doing!

So, where was Ingraham's outrage then? Hmm... strangely absent. Now, she's all about the law and the Constitution and how judges should follow the law and not what they want to have happen. But then? Nary a peep.

So, you know what? I don't give a shit if Kennedy really just wanted to outlaw the executions of minors and then looked for law to support it. Because the conservative judges do exactly the same thing. Conservatives don't care about law or the Constitution or rights. They care about being able to tell other people what to do and they use reasonable arguments a smokescreen to get the gullible on the left, earnest and reasonable people, to believe that they actually care about the rule of law.

They don't. In fact, Ingraham's guest, who wrote some book about how the Supreme Court is "out of control," suggested that the 17 states who have capital punishment for minors on the books should just go ahead and execute those minors and say to the Court, "What are you going to to about it now?" From the rule of law party? "Rule of law" does not mean that you only obey the law when you agree with it! It means you obey the law and the duly constituted authorities no matter what. But these people care nothing for the rule of law: They care about making everyone else live according to their standards and then telling them to obey the law.

Ingraham's guest also noted that Kennedy had claimed that no other countries execute minors or something to that effect. I presume Kennedy was speaking of Western countries. But this douche bag said, basically, "What about Iran and Bangladesh? Has Kennedy ever heard of them?"

Isn't it interesting that, when it suits them, conservatives call countries like Iran "evil," but then turn and use those countries as an example? Is there any clearer definition of hypocrisy in this world, do you think?


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