March 01, 2005

The Rule of Man

The Supreme Court has used a Missouri case to eliminate the death penalty for those under 18 by a 5-4 vote:

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Constitution forbids the execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes, ending a practice used in 19 states.

The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes.

The executions, the court said, were unconstitutionally cruel.

But why are these executions now "uncontitutionally cruel" if they weren't before? Especially considering that:

The four most liberal justices had already gone on record in 2002, calling it "shameful" to execute juvenile killers. Those four, joined by Kennedy, also agreed with Tuesday's decision: Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Shameful. Not illegal or unconstitutional, but shameful. Oh but that's right, it's only the Taliban wing of the Republican Party who want to legislate morality. Yes, I support the death penalty for murderers and child molesters. If you disagree with that, we can argue the merits of the death penalty and try to change minds, we can work on the hustings to elect people who share our beliefs, or we can let a small unelected group ignore the will of the people for the temporal whims of what they believe is right. As Julian Ku notes, Justice Kennedy's opinion, writing for the majority, seems to favor the last remedy by relying rather heavily on non-constitutional justifications by citing:

Brief for Human Rights Committee of the Bar of England and Wales et al.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 6(5), 999 U. N. T. S., at 175
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art. 37,
American Convention on Human Rights: Pact of San Josť, Costa Rica, Art. 4(5)
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Art. 5(3)

Since the US Supreme Court has once again decided to yield to the peer pressure of international jurisprudence, I can't help wondering why they decided to stop with juveniles? After all, the rest of really cool kids in the EU and the UN dislike the death penalty, period. It is only a matter of time, or until the next death penalty case is brought before the court, that this same rationale with perhaps different citations can be used to eliminate the death penalty under all circumstances. And not because we the people decided to change our laws, but because five judges seem to value the opinions of people who are not citizens of the United States of America, people who are not bound by our laws and customs, people who, it must be said, frankly want to see the United States of America humbled and occasionally hurt, more than the freedom to our citizens to administer their own government. I am appalled.

If the Supreme Court continues to extend its brief in this manner, it will have stopped being an arbiter of the law and instead it will become the law. In other words, this is merely a return to the rule of man. That is what I find most troubling. Gosh, I can't wait for the first Supreme Court ruling that cites the new EU Constitution for a rationale.

If you are interested here's more info on the sick bastard that Ronnie White (remember him?) and the rest of the Missouri Supreme Court chose to let live.

Posted by Charles Austin at March 1, 2005 02:19 PM

I wouldn't advocate a return to the Black Law of late C18/early C19 England, but it strikes me we don't hang nearly enough people these days. This guy should have been stretched within 48 hours of his conviction.

Posted by: David Gillies at 12:52 AM

If justice is perverted and injustice is allowed to flourish, then the Book of Judges is followed by the Book of Kings.

Posted by: Jon at 01:49 PM

This opinion is such a mess. I wouldn't be surprised if the death penalty is abolished altogether within 10 years. Wouldn't be hard to do with this kind of reasoning.

Viva the Nuclear Option!

Posted by: mark at 08:27 PM