Strange ruling by Colorado court
In this article, CNN reports that the Colorado supreme court ruled that a death sentence that had been issued to a convicted murderer was invalid because the jury had consulted the Bible during deliberations. That's...strange.
This demonstrates two things:
1) In our society we will overturn rulings that are supposed to be binding, and end the issue, if we can;
2) Often we do this on grounds of technicality instead of morality.
The judges didn't say "No, jury, you're wrong; it would be immoral to impose the death penalty, so we're going to override your ruling." They said, "Your ruling is invalid because you consulted the Bible." I'm not sure which way is better--I suppose the vagaries of life demand realpolitik, and if someone is not going to listen to reason you work the system instead.
The Terri Shiavo case was rejected by a federal judge, who declined to hear it and overturn the state court's ruling. Democrats, Republicans and others quickly pointed out that Republicans were breaking one of their supposed foundational tenets--federalism. Here's Ryan Sager, a conservative, whom I highly respect:
"The forums for matters such as the Schiavo case are state courts, upholding state laws. Conservatives, especially religious conservatives -- who want Roe v. Wade overturned and the issue of abortion moved back to state legislatures and courts -- should understand this better than any other group of Americans."
Democrats laughed gleefully at the supposed hypocrisy of Republicans. Here's Eric Alterman, a liberal, whom I also highly respect:
"Republicans are fundamentally contravening their own alleged principles by trying to put the federal government in the face of an intimate family decision-making process."
I thought this was seriously disingenuous of these critics. Here's the tie-in: just as the judges were going against a ruling that was supposed to be binding by way of a sort of a first amendment technicality, because they probably believe the death penalty is wrong in this case, so Republicans and states rights conservatives are (correctly) fighting state courts and going against one of their supposed principles because of what they believe is right.