I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Tale Of A Schizophrenic Court

The Supreme Court of the United States has developed a bit of an identity crisis of late. As a judicial body, they can’t seem to decide if they are part of the legislative branch of government or part of the judicial branch. On the legislative side, they have handed down decisions that have done nothing less than to create new laws, citing foreign laws or public consensus as the justification for their decision. On the judicial side, they adhere to the original interpretation of the Constitution and decide cases based solely on the constitutionality of a law or case. To be fair, it is actually only one Justice that is struggling to find his judicial philosophy. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy has been the swing vote on the controversial decisions of this current session.

One of the decisions that have been handed down that has ripped the Constitution to shreds include deeming the death penalty too harsh a punishment for a man convicted of brutally raping his 8 year old step daughter. Associate Justice Kennedy wrote in his support for the decision that there is not a strong nationwide consensus for the death penalty in child rape cases. He also alluded to our country maturing past the point of using the death penalty in such cases. Associate Justice Alito pointed out in the dissent that the ruling would not take into account how many times the victim was raped, how many victims there were, the age of the child, or how sadistic the rape was. Senator John McCain issued a statement strongly denouncing the ruling, saying that there is no greater responsibility as a parent than to protect the innocence of a child. Senator Barack Obama chose to be ambiguous with his response. He stated that he opposed the ruling but went on to clarify his position of opposition.

Another ruling that caused uproar of cheering from the left was the Guantanamo detainees decision. The conflicted court ruled that the enemy combatants that are being held at Guantanamo Bay, have the same Constitutional rights as a U.S. citizen. They have the right to attorneys and to have their cases heard before a civilian court. The problem with this decision is that at no time in our two hundred and thirty-two year history have our enemies that were captured on the battlefield been granted our Constitutional rights. We have applied the Geneva Convention to prisoners of war, but never brought them into our courts. In World War II we captured several German spies on our soil. The Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered that they be brought before a military tribunal and subsequently shot. These detainees do not fight under a recognized national flag. They do not wear a uniform of any organized country’s military. With that in mind, these enemy combatants do not fall under the auspices of the Geneva Convention, but yet our heartless military and government have granted them the protection of the Geneva Convention. The Supreme Court just awarded more rights to our enemies than members of our U.S. military enjoy. Senator Obama applauded the ruling, citing that he has long called for the prisoners to be brought into our courts. Senator McCain was outraged by the decision, stating that he wants to close Guantanamo but does not want them brought into our court system.

The Supreme Court did make a ruling this week that was worthy of praise. They decided that the Washington D.C. handgun ban is unconstitutional. This was the first decision on gun ownership in 70 years and as Antonin Scalia wrote in his support of the decision, there is no doubt about the right to keep and bear arms. The reasoning behind the ban makes for great headlines, but shows very little in results. Once again, the well-meaning politicians asked to be judged on their intentions not their results. Washington D.C. is near the top of the list as one of the most violent cities in the U.S. In 2005, D.C. had statistically over 35 murders per 100,000 people, but yet the law-abiding population was unarmed. Isn’t it funny how the criminals never seem to abide by the law banning handguns? Both Senator Obama and Senator McCain agreed with the decision, but McCain pointed out that Obama has long been opposed to gun rights. Only recently has he come out in support of gun ownership.

The recent decisions from the Supreme Court highlight the importance of this year’s presidential election.Senator Obama has coined the word “change” as his campaign theme, but I must point out that change just for the sake of change is potentially disastrous. Obama has said that he supports justices like Ginsberg and Souter. If he is elected, the change he will bring is one that will see our Constitution rewritten at the whim of the Supreme Court.

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