December 10, 2003


I'm not a lawyer, but I'm curious, did the Supreme Court utilize it's late penchant for referencing international law in its decisions in deciding that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." means something other than what it says?

Great Britain certainly doesn't have the kind of free speech we have -- sorry, had -- in this country. I'm not familiar with the laws in most of the rest of the world, but somehow I think things probably go downhill from Great Britain with respect to free speech.

This is a very bad thing. I guess perhaps it's time to just accept that we are now ruled by robed oligarchs that will do whatever they damn well please. Wow. Magna Carta to the US Constitution in 572 years. It only took 216 years to revert back to a pre-Magna Carta view of power, with the judiciary substituted for the king. Pre-Magna Carta, the law was whatever the king said, no matter what or why. Now the law is whatever the court says, no matter what or why.

Is all of this just hyperbole or is the American experiment over?

Posted by Charles Austin at December 10, 2003 11:15 PM

Hyperbole! Your view is like anybody else's who happens to disagree with a Supreme Court ruling. "Legislating from the bench!" and "Bypassing the majority will!". Although I've never heard or read anyone so bluntly claim the end of democracy.

Posted by: Doug Purdie at 03:42 PM

Mr. Purdie may be right that it's hyperbole, but not for the reasons he has offered. I have disagreed with Supreme Court rulings before, but none of these previous disagreements have ever made me question the validity of the status quo. My complaint this time is actually neither of the straw men proposed by Mr. Purdie, but is somewhat more fundamental. My concern isn't that I disagree with the Supreme Court over the interpretation of the law, but whether in fact there remains any objective basis for the law given that the very clear and unamiguous language of the First Amendment has been ignored by this ruling. If the rule of law is nothing but pronouncements from the bench without reference to a shared, reasonably objective baseline of the Constitution, the Common Law, and precedents, then it is no better than the rule of kings. We seem to have degenerated now to another variant of trying to define the word "is."

I believe in a living Constitution. So did the founders. That's why they put in a capability to amend the Constitution over time. This ruling, and similar recent rulings that make reference to the laws of other nations, still lead me to ask whether or not the American experiment is now over. Have we passed to some post-national, dare I say transnational progressive, concept of justice and jurisprudence?

Posted by: charles austin at 04:16 PM

Charles, the only hope is that while the Supreme Court upheld the law in the abstract, future challenges of the actual application of the law will prove it to be unworkable. Small consolation.

Posted by: Steve Malynn at 05:50 PM

The experiment isn't over, but the glassware is looking very rickety.

At this point, the Bill of Rights has been "interpreted" into nullity. Virtually none of the rights Americans of a hundred years ago took for granted remain to us. Of the ten critical amendments, only one -- Amendment III, on the quartering of troops -- has not been discarded in principle or in practice.

It's time for a rising.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 04:09 PM