Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Supreme Court Is Out Of Control

"Oh yeah? Well, I know a place where the Constitution doesn't mean squat!"
- Richard Nixon's head (Futurama Episode "A Taste of Freedom")

When I read of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the application of the death penalty to child rapists, I was so incredulous that I had to read the Court's opinion for myself.

The dissenting opinion, held by Alito, Scalia and Thomas, sums up the Court's arguement.
The Court today holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of raping a child. This is so, according to the Court, no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator’s prior criminal record may be. The Court provides two reasons for this sweeping conclusion: First, the Court claims to have identified “a national consensus” that the death penalty is never acceptable for the rape of a child; second, the Court concludes, based on its “independent judgment,” that imposing the death penalty for child rape is inconsistent with “‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.’”
I must have missed school the day they talked about SCOTUS having the power to make rulings based on "evolving standards", "national consensus" and their own "independent judgment". I always thought they had to follow the Constitution. Silly me.

This is outrageous. A cabal of unelected individuals have overturned the will of the people. They have set the unreasonable standard that the death penalty can only be applied if a victim is killed (except for crimes against the state). They have based this on little beyond their own personal biases.

What can we do about such abuse of power? We can try to make sure the next nominees to the court are not social engineers using their power to create a personal vision of a "maturing society". Obviously this means denying Obama the presidency, but it also means pressuring McCain.

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