Tuesday, March 29, 2005

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.


At 10:56 AM, Blogger RedHurt said...

The Schavio case is a ridiculous political mess in which neither party is playing true to it's stereotypical colors. The Republicans are acting consistently with neo-conservatism's "big government" - they have control of the system, so they're working it to serve their own ends. I don't agree with this, but it's hard for me to get upset about considering the circumstances. On the other hand, we have here an incapacitated woman, possibly from abuse by her husband, whose husband has been given permission to starve her to death so that he can inherit roughly 1 million dollars. Her family doesn't believe she ever wanted to die and want to take full responsibility for caring for her from this point on. Where are the bleeding heart liberals, crying out in defense of the family? Where is NOW, stomping and stamping in defense of this woman's rights? It's strange, bizarre and tragic all at the same time.

On ruling by technicality, it's just ridiculous. Laws need to exist that address complicated and detailed situations, but the undergirding of the whole thing should be simple common sense. If you find a man with a smoking gun next to 3 dead bodies, forgetting to read him his rights should not guarantee his "innocence".

At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

redhurt, on what do you base your claim that Michael Schiavo will inherit a million dollars when Terry dies? I read that all her money had already been spent for her care.


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