Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Supreme Court blocks life sentences without parole for violent teens, citing 'international opinion'

Regardless of whether one likes the verdict or not, the fact that it is based on "international opinion" makes it a mockery of constitutional interpretation -- which is what the court is supposed to be doing. They have simply made themselves a super-legislature

The Supreme Court has just held that violent juveniles cannot be given a life sentence without a chance for parole, unless they succeed in killing their victim. Even torturers and rapists who attempt to commit murder cannot be denied the opportunity for release under the Court’s decision today in Graham v. Florida.

Most states have long authorized life sentences without parole for vicious 17-year-olds who commit rape and attempted murder. But the Court looked instead to “international opinion” to declare such sentences “cruel and unusual,” writing that “the United States adheres to a sentencing practice rejected the world over,” illustrating “the climate of international opinion” against life without parole.

The Court’s opinion was joined in by all the liberal Supreme Court justices–including Obama’s appointee, Sonia Sotomayor–and authored by swing vote Anthony Kennedy. Conservative justices Alito, Thomas, and Scalia dissented.

Chief Justice Roberts agreed with the liberal majority only that the defendant in this particular case deserved a chance for parole. But he disagreed with its sweeping ruling that all violent juveniles must be given a chance for parole unless they succeeded in killing their victim. He cited the examples of nightmarishly evil people who will now be given an opportunity for parole thanks to the Supreme Court:

“But what about Milagro Cunningham, a 17-year-old who beat and raped an 8-year-old girl before leaving her to die under 197 pounds of rock in a recycling bin in a remote landfill?” asked the Chief Justice. “Or Nathan Walker and Jakaris Taylor, the Florida juveniles who together with their friends gang-raped a woman and forced her to perform oral sex on her 12-year-old son?” These vicious predators will now be free to seek parole.

The Court’s decision today illustrates that the Supreme Court is a liberal court, not a moderate or conservative court. The great majority of states–even “Blue States” like California–permit life without parole for violent juvenile torturers and rapists. The Court ignored the wisdom of the sages, such as the ancient maxim that “he who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind.”

In relying on “international opinion” to decide the case, the Supreme Court ignored the pleas of civil libertarians and libertarian think tanks like the Cato Institute not to smuggle international standards into the interpretation of the American Constitution, since doing so is a dangerous precedent: international law and opinion are often hostile to important American civil liberties like free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion; the right to self-defense against home intruders; and laws designed to secure those protections.

The libertarian Cato Institute, which frequently files amicus briefs in the Supreme Court seeking to promote civil liberties and privacy rights, filed an amicus brief in today’s case asking the court not to rely on “international norms,” since doing so would “undermine the democratic process and rule of law, casting considerable uncertainty over many U.S. laws.” Sadly, the Court ignored that brief. (My employer, Competitive Enterprise Institute, joined Cato's amicus brief).

Courts should not rely on “international opinion” to decide cases, since it is vague and manipulable. So-called international law is applied selectively by lawyers and judges, who cite real or imagined ”international law” to push the ideological goals they support, while ignoring actual international court rulings they don’t like.

Left-wing lawyers take vague international treaties and interpret them as mandating liberals’ ideological wishlists, like restricting criticism of Islam and minority religions as “hate speech,” banning Mother’s Day as sexist, and mandating quota-based affirmative action. For example, the CEDAW equal-rights treaty has been construed by an international committee as requiring “redistribution of wealth,” “affirmative action,” “gender studies” classes, government-sponsored “access to rapid and easy abortion,” and “the application of quotas and numerical goals.” Never mind that most countries don’t even have affirmative action.

But left-wing lawyers ignore foreign law and world opinion when it calls into question liberal policies in the United States. One classic example is the horror that most countries’ courts have for the American practice of letting virtually unguided juries award punitive damages. In most of the world, punitive damages are forbidden. But you will never see a liberal Supreme Court justice talk about “international law” or “international opinion” when it comes to punitive damages, which are sacrosanct in the eyes of many liberal judges.

Ultimately, even liberals may come to regret the reliance on “international opinion” by today’s Supreme Court decision, which sets a dangerous precedent for civil liberties.

In USA Today, liberal law professor Jonathan Turley earlier criticized the Obama administration for foolishly endorsing a “blasphemy” exception to free speech at the UN, in an effort to curry favor with Muslim countries: “Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.”

Turley says Western blasphemy cases have included the arrest of a Dutch cartoonist for depicting Christian and Muslim fundamentalists as zombies; the investigation of an Italian comedian for joking that in 20 years, the Pope will be in hell; the exclusion of a Dutch politician from Britain because he made a movie describing Islam’s holy book as “fascist”; and the prosecution of writers for calling Mohammed a “pedophile” because of his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha (which was consummated when she was 9).

Earlier, conservatives and civil libertarians criticized the Obama administration for endorsing restrictions on so-called “hate speech” at the United Nations in an effort to ingratiate itself with other countries. The Administration is backing proposals to classify hate speech as a violation of international human rights law. Some left-wing lawyers are now likely to argue that these proposals constitute “customary international law” binding on the U.S., as a consensus interpretation of treaties the U.S. has already signed, like the CEDAW equal rights treaty. The U.S. courts are unlikely to accept such arguments in the near future, although if Obama manages to appoint enough left-wing judges, the chances of such arguments prevailing will increase.

In Canada, hate speech laws have been used to punish ministers for anti-gay sermons. In the U.S., college hate-speech codes have been used to discipline students for criticizing affirmative action or homosexuality, or writing about the racial implications of the death penalty.

Ironically, hate speech laws have often been used against minorities in the Third World, with prosecutors arguing that advocating the rights of minorities is an inflammatory form of racial separatism.



Supreme Court Rules Sex Offenders Can Be Imprisoned After Sentences Expire

Such laws are increasingly common worldwide so they no doubt pass the "international opinion" test. They do undoubtedly help block the release of violent criminals who are very likely to reoffend. Any decisions made in pursuance of such laws should of course be subject to judicial review, however

The Supreme Court ruled today that convicted sex offenders can be imprisoned even after their sentences expire if they are determined to be mentally ill and sexually dangerous.

In a decision by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Court upheld a federal law that allows dangerous sex offenders to remain in prison if the federal government proves by clear and convincing evidence they would have "serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation" if released.

The case came about when the government sought to detain five men who had been convicted or charged with federal sex offenses. Three had pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing child pornography and a fourth had pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor. The fifth man was charged with aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, but was found incompetent to stand trial.

The five men argued that continuing to detain them violated their constitutional rights. A federal appeals court agreed that Congress exceeded its power in passing the law.

In overturning the appeals court decision, the Court emphasized that the constitutional clause at issue "grants Congress broad authority to enact federal legislation."

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, said the Court was granting Congress broad powers that should be left to the states.



Public option is alive and well, but hidden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t kidding when she famously said Congress had to pass Obamacare “so you can see what’s in it.” And now as more people find out what’s in the 2,700-plus pages of the law, a steadily lengthening list of President Barack Obama’s promises are being exposed as empty.

Obamacare was going to reduce federal health care spending. Now, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the president’s own Department of Health and Human Services estimates federal health spending will increase at least $311 billion. Obamacare was going to let everybody keep their private health insurance if they chose to. Now Fortune magazine reports that companies across the country are looking at dropping health coverage for their employees because Obamacare makes it profitable to do so. Obamacare was not going to raise insurance premiums. Now another CMMS report says premiums are going up because of Obamacare’s provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

Here’s another Obamacare myth biting the dust. Remember when Obama and congressional Democrats made a big show of dropping the public option government insurance program that was supposedly going to give private insurers competition and drive rates down? The truth is the public option is alive and well, residing in Section 1334, pages 97-100, of the new health care law. That section gives the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — which presently manages the federal civil service — new responsibilities: establishing and running two entirely new government health insurance programs to compete directly with private insurance companies in every state with coverage for people outside of government.

Quoting the new law, former OPM director Donald Devine notes that it makes the OPM boss a health care czar, with power to set “‘profit margin premiums and other such terms and conditions of coverage as are in the interest of enrollees in such plans.’ That’s open-ended. You can do anything.” Dan Blair, another former OPM director, calls the new program “nothing but a placeholder for the public option.” Indeed, the OPM head is also given the authority to “appoint as many employees” as needed to run the program, and to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to establish and administer it.

As with so much else, Obama and the Democrats did this behind closed doors. They held no public hearings on it and invited no public testimony to estimate its costs or explain its effect on OPM in its traditional role of managing the civil service. The reasons are steadily piling up to repeal this destructive law and replace it and the congressmen who voted for it as soon as possible.



Obama administration helps ACORN defend socialism – in India!

The Obama administration is using U.S. government resources to help the embattled radical advocacy organization spread the gospel of left-wing community organizing in India.

President Obama’s ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, recently lent his name and the prestige of the U.S. government to ACORN India’s efforts to organize rag-pickers in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay). Roemer is a former Democratic congressman who represented an Indiana district.

The website of the U.S. embassy in India displays a photograph from May 11 in which Ambassador Roemer is shown meeting with rag pickers in Dharavi, a slum in the suburbs of Mumbai. The official caption accompanying the picture indicates Roemer was discussing “ACORN India’s local waste management and recycling program.”

The Indo-Asian News Service confirmed in a report that day that Roemer spent time at the ACORN facility and met with ACORN India representative Vikram Adige.

The U.S. consulate in Mumbai, headed by Consul General Paul A. Flombsee, also co-sponsored a water conservation event on March 22 with ACORN India. Flomsbee is listed as the expected guest of honor at the event on ACORN India’s website....




TSA gets new boss: "President Barack Obama said Monday he will nominate FBI Deputy Director John Pistole to become the new head of the Transportation Security Administration. The position has been vacant since Obama became president in January 2009, with an acting head in place. Two previous Obama nominees have withdrawn from consideration due to Republican opposition and controversial issues.”

Crooked NYC cop jailed : "Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who was dubbed ‘America’s Cop’ for his leadership after Sept. 11, reported to a minimum-security federal prison camp in Cumberland, MD Monday to begin serving a four year sentence for tax fraud and lying to the White House. … Kerik pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax fraud and obstruction, including making false statements when he was vetted to be Secretary of Homeland Security in the Bush Administration. The crimes called for a sentence of two to three years but Judge Stephen C. Robinson in White Plains, NY sentenced Kerik to more than that because of ‘the almost operatic proportions of this case.’”

Bye bye, CalWORKs: "In the early 1990s, Bill Clinton campaigned on a promise to ‘end welfare as we know it.’ Republicans in Congress called his bluff, and the result — the landmark 1996 welfare-reform bill — ushered in a decade of plummeting welfare rolls and declining poverty. Now California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, no one’s idea of a staunch conservative, has done Clinton one better: He has called for the end of cash welfare in California, period.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


A kindred spirit.