Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crazy Court!

Three recent decisions by the supreme court and the subsequent split decisions and dissenting opinions is the failing testament to an entire branch of our government gone crazy! The judicial branch of our government used to be touted as the unequivocal pillar of justice and freedom that this nation was founded on, however somewhere along the way the pillar has become corrupt and the institution of checks and balances has become suspect due to the increasing number of activist judges. This has long been a problem in liberal California and New England, but over the last 20 years the activist judge infection has permeated the highest court of all.

The first decision that i want to mention is Kelo v. City of New London. This was the landmark Supreme Court ruling known as the Kelo decision. The case was decided by the Supreme Court in 2005, in regards to the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to "further economic development". This nation was founded on property rights and the protection of those rights. Some of you might be familiar with the term "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." This little gem is the fifth amendment. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." This little gem is the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution. However the court decided that eminent domain allowed the city of New London, Connecticut, to seize a private owner's land for economic redevelopment by another private owner. The ruling was very unpopular and forced Susette Kelo out of her home, which she never wanted to leave. Now, three years later, Kelo's house is no longer there and the lot where it once stood is vacant. In fact, Real Clear Markets reports that there is no new construction in the area because the city-sponsored developer has been unable to secure financing because interest is minimal. The end result is that "further economic development" is a relative term open to broad interpretation from city, local and state governments who have an eye on your property in order to increase their tax base. This is something you would hear about coming from the peoples republic of some foreign nation, not the U.S.A. Worth mentioning is the decision of the Kelo case was decided by a 5 - 4 split. The majority in this case included Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion, and by Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. This is the liberal wing of the court. The minority opinion (in this case the conservative wing of the court) was written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who objected to the fact that an unelected and therefore unaccountable private corporation was the primary beneficiary of the government taking. Her opinion suggested that the use of this power was in fact a type of reverse Robin Hood which would essentially take from the poor and give to the rich. Justice O'Connor stated that this would become the norm, not the exception "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." Clarence Thomas weighed in with his own dissenting opinion in which he stated that the precedents the court's decision relied upon were flawed and that "something has gone seriously awry with this Court's interpretation of the Constitution." he added further that "Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful."

The second case is the recent Kennedy v. Louisiana, in which Patrick Kennedy, 43, was sentenced to death for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter in Louisiana. the rape was so severe that the child needed multiple surgery's. Worth noting is that of the approximately 3,350 inmates currently on death row only two people are on death row for any crime other than murder. They both happen to be in Louisiana and they both happen to be child rapists. five other states allow the execution of child rapist, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas allow executions in such cases if the defendant had previously been convicted of raping a child. Forty-five states ban the death penalty for any kind of rape. No one has been executed in this nation since 1964 for anything other than murder. Having said all this it is an absolute travesty for the Supreme Court to flagrantly interfere with a historic states rights issue. Not to mention the heinous nature of rape in general and the enormous criminality of child rapists, this ruling is despicable. Of course the decision was a 5-4 split along the liberal-conservative lines that we have come to expect. The majority opinion (again represented by the liberal wing of the court) written by Justice Anthony Kennedy; he was joined by his liberal colleagues Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Justice Anthony Kennedy stated "The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child." Kennedy also said that the absence of any executions for rape and the small number of states that allow it demonstrate "there is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape." Since when was the Supreme Court empowered with anything remotely differing from interpreting the constitution as it relates to law. No mandate or precedent exists for the Supreme Court to "poll" "national consensus" and then rule accordingly. This absurd at best and criminal at worst. Kennedy did acknowledged that the decision had to come to terms with "the years of long anguish that must be endured by the victim of child rape." However, Kennedy concluded that in cases of crimes against individuals, as opposed to treason, for example "the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the victim's life was not taken." The minority opinion ) again represented by the conservative wing of the court, was penned by Justice Samuel Alito, who stated that in this case, proponents of the Louisiana law said the trend was toward the death penalty. "The harm that is caused to the victims and to society at large by the worst child rapists is grave," Alito wrote. "It is the judgment of the Louisiana lawmakers and those in an increasing number of other states that these harms justify the death penalty."

And finally the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most federal firearms restrictions intact. I listed this third due only to the fact that every other blogger, news outlet or person with a sharpie pen is talking and writing about this decision. I have talked in length on this issue in the past and those who read The Ghost of Jefferson on a regular basis have been inundated with it from its inception. I will spare you any further tirades on behalf of Heller and the nation. I do however want to point out that the decision was again a 5-4 split along conservative-liberal lines. The conservative opinion, in this case the majority, can best be summed up by someone not even on the bench, but by NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox, who stated “Anti-gun politicians can no longer deny that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right,” “All law-abiding Americans have a fundamental, God-given right to defend themselves in their homes. Washington, D.C. must now respect that right.” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion and said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted. He went further and stated The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home". The court also struck down Washington's requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks or kept disassembled, but left intact the licensing of guns. Justice Scalia noted that the handgun is Americans' preferred weapon of self defense in part because "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police."the majority opinion dealt almost exclusively with self-defense in the home, acknowledging only briefly in the lengthy historical analysis that early Americans also valued gun rights because of hunting. The minority opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens stated that the majority "would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons." He further added such evidence "is nowhere to be found." Justice Stephen Breyer felt compelled to write an additional separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas." I might add that this is exactly where law abiding citizens are most likely to need to defend themselves or their loved ones, but far be it from me to point that glaringly obvious point out to the liberal justice who would like to deny you your constitutional right to self defense. That very document that the Supreme Court is supposed to uphold. How ironic is it that the next president will likely hold sway over the makeup of the supreme court who obviously is hell bent on legislating from the bench. Wake up, take notice and get involved!

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