Friday, March 25, 2005

Why I am not particularly religious

I consider myself to be a Catholic (big C, meaning I take what the Pope says seriously, but not absolutely). But it is very hard to put all of Catholicism and/or Christianity on a logically, or even morally, sound foundation. Take this article from Neal Boortz. How do you argue against this if you believe all that Catholicism teaches about the afterlife? Here the basic text of my email to Neal in response (I didn't copy it before I sent it and now I can't retrieve it):

"Then why don't we all kill ourselves, then? Where along the continuum of completely abled, prime of life, to completely incapacitated, all currently available medical technology necessary to, and in fact, keeping one alive, is it ok to deprive someone of food and water to hasten their death? Terri Schiavo obviously is not at the end of that continuum so the line must be further up."

Now, the one big factor here is the wishes of the person-to-be-starved. But that simply changes the question: Where on the continuum I just described above do we let people starve themselves to death? Pure libertarians will say anywhere. I think Catholicism would say nowhere. The libertarian answer is abhorrent to me. The Catholic answer is tough to square with Neal Boortz' observations. But Neal's observations are impossible to square with my questions.

If there is a God and heaven as Catholism teaches, why can't - why shouldn't - we all starve ourselves to death, painlessly it would seem? God says no. But why? God is mysterious. This troubles me. You can see why the afterlife business makes straightforward moral questions murky. Yet I take great comfort that bad people here on Earth will get their due.

Another observation: does one kill oneself by starving oneself to death, or is one simply allowing the "death process" to run its course? Starving yourself to death is the same as killing yourself. I have no problem making that assertion of fact. Therefore, we can't kill Terri Schiavo, either, even though it would accellerate her ascent into heaven (after all, she is not killing herself).

Lest this happen to me ever, let me announce to the world: DON'T EVER TAKE ME OFF OF ANYTHING!!! I WANT TO LIVE!!! And I'm gonna make a pile of money and buy insurance so no one has to pay for me. If, for some reason, I don't have the money, and you want to pay, great, but I don't demand that you do.

If you are reading this you are smart enough to know that we are so far down the slippery slope that all the super glue, sand paper and mountain climbing equipment in the world will likely not bring us back up.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

All the Terri Schiavo you need to know . . .

. . . is summed up here from Right Wing News.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Blake Aquitted

By now you've probably heard that Robert Blake was aquitted of murder today. Having no interest in criminal law or a murder trial where a husband is accused of killing his wife, made sensational merely because the accused is an actor, I did not follow this case closely and indeed avoided it for the most part. Yet I was somewhat curious, as a lawyer, as to how Blake's attorneys' got him off, given that the little evidence I had heard about seemed to be pretty compelling evidence of guilt. After reading the AP column linked to above, I still have no idea how they did it. From the AP article:

"Blake told authorities that he walked his wife to the car after dinner, then discovered he had left his gun back in the booth at Vitello's Restaurant. He went back to get it, then returned to the car and found his wife shot, he said."

Whoops, honey, I forgot my gun in the restaurant booth. I hate it when I do that. Hold on a second here in the car and let me go back and get it. [2 minutes later. . .] Oh my god, my wife has been shot!

How utterly incredible is that story? Mr. Blake owes his life to his defense attorneys.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

March Madness

Today is the first day of the greatest sporting event in the world, the NCAA basketball tournament. Congratulations to Oakland for defeating Alabama A&M in today's play-in game (I picked Alabama A&M - grrr).

The NCAA basketball tournament mocks all other sporting events with its sheer perfection and, well, madness. Only NFL football comes close, with a single elimination playoff, but the NFL lacks the NCAA tournament's greatest asset - the opportunity for a monumental upset. With 12 teams in the playoffs out of a 30 team league, itself an elite parity-driven league, every team in the NFL playoffs thinks it has a legitimate shot to win the Super Bowl.

Only in the NCAA tournament do we get Coppin State beating South Carolina, Princeton narrowly losing to Georgetown and Hampton beating Iowa State. Indiana (the state) made a huge mistake when it went to divisions for its state high school basketball championship (whiny liberal - "but everyone deserves a trophy").

The biggest recipient of the NCAA tournament's mockery is NCAA football. I should say, Division 1A NCAA football. The NFL has a playoff, every other NCAA division has a playoff, heck even the Arena League has a playoff, why not NCAA div. 1A?

And the answer is so easy. Make an 8 team playoff with the teams in the four major bowls! Each bowl would be the first round. That means a mere 3 more games (2 semis and 1 final). Each major bowl would therefore be hugely important, rather than the 1 national championship bowl and the three meaningless bowls. Every bowl's viewership and attendance would skyrocket.

Why are they so stupid?

Anyway, rant over. Illinois will win it all. You heard it here.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Gay Marriage in California? Don't bet on it.

A San Francisco Superior Court judge just ruled that limiting marriage to a man and a woman violates the California Constitution. Note that this is merely a Superior Court judge and accordingly the ruling has no precidential value. The AP article does not say what the immediate impact of the decision is - i.e., is Gavin Newsome now ordered to issue marriage licenses to the litigants? Is he enjoined from refusing to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians?

However, the AP article notes the following:

"A pair of bills pending before the California Legislature would put a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the November ballot. If California voters approve such an amendment, as those in 13 other states did last year, that would put the issue out of the control of lawmakers and the courts."

California has a reputation as being ultra-liberal. I predict at least 60% of California votes will vote to ban gay marriage . You heard it here.

Update: McGehee comments:

"I hope it's more than that -- state constitutional amendments in California must be approved by two-thirds of voters. 60% won't cut it."

Au contraire.


The electors may amend the Constitution by initiative.


A proposed amendment or revision shall be submitted to the electors and if approved by a majority of votes thereon takes effect the day after the election unless the measure provides otherwise. If provisions of 2 or more measures approved at the same election conflict, those of the measure receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

To Follow Stare Decisis is to Abandon its Traditional Meaning

SoCalLawBlog seems to think that liberals have won the stare decisis game and we conservatives are doomed to sit back and take it.


The left has the lead because they are shameless, and the right has shame. But, as my high school tennis coach taught me, once your opponent cheats, he has now established the rules. The majority on the U.S. Supreme Court cheated in Roper. But guess what they did, in their arrogance? They sowed the seeds of their own ultimate failure.

With Roper, it is the opinion - ne, instruction - of the U.S. Supreme Court that the U.S. Constitution is to be interpreted in accordance with current social values. Here is the critical point: It now violates stare decisis not to reevaluate the Constitution in every case, regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court found to be then-current social values in a past case. A good conservative judge, applying the conservative perspective on stare decisis, should apply the U.S. Supreme Court's reasoning to its fullest.

First to go should be the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule. As Scalia's dissent points out, no other "civilized" county has such a rule. Moreover, nowhere in the Constitution is the exclusionary rule required. Rather, the rule was a Supreme Court invention to further the policy behind the Fourth Amendment. However, as a consequence of Roper, it is now obligatory upon all lower courts to reexamine this rule in light of "international opinion." If any D.A. out there wants to argue this point, I'd be happy to write the appellate briefs, free of charge. And I certainly disagree with SoCalLawBlog that raising such an argument would get a lawyer in trouble. It is clearly a good faith argument allowed by FRCP, Rule 11.

Now, SoCalLawBlog pointed out Judge Roy Moore's takedown when he disobeyed a court order. Will something similar happen to a conservative U.S. District Court judge who throws out the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule based on "international opinion?" Not on your life. Judge Moore disobeyed a court order when he was a party, not in his judicial capacity. Recall that the Ten Commandments monument was in the Alabama Supreme Courthouse, and the Alabama Supreme Court was being sued to have it removed. A U.S. District Court judge (or circuit panel) making a decision on the law in his or her judicial capacity is personally 100% immune from any consequences of that decision. The decision may be reversed by a higher court, but the judge stays a judge, unless impeached. And if Clinton couldn't be removed from office, what are the chances that a politically motivated impeachment of a conservative judge would succeed? None.

SoCalLawBlog does bring up a good point when he questions how a case will ever reach the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roper. Easy. Any Eighth Amendment case will do to give the U.S. Supreme Court the ability to reexamine the Roper method of Constitutional interpretation. What would be jucily ironic is if the next Eighth Amendment case to come before the U.S. Supreme Court, brought by some ultra-liberal activist group trying to prevent criminals from being punished, is used by the Court as a vehicle to implicitly overrule Roper and its entire set of flawed Constitutional interpretation methods.

Moreover, as Roper also holds, the views of ordinary Americans via state legislatures are not the only way to determine current social mores. A shift in the law, not practice, of a mere 10% of states, was apparently not enough because Justice Kennedy had to go trolling for "international opinion." Any poll of ordinary Americans on abortion will show that the vast majority favor severe restrictions on abortion in the third trimester. A recent CBS poll found that 63% of americans favor stricter limits on abortion than now exist (40%), or want it banned outright (23%). That's good enough evidence for me of current social mores to find that the Constitution no longer allows abortion on demand. It took the U.S. Supreme Court a mere 16 years to - well, not overrule Stanford v. Kentucky, as Scalia points out - devine the social trend away from executing minor murders; 17 years for Bowers v. Hardwick's temporary view of then-applicable moral values to bite the dust in Lawrence v. Texas. Roe v. Wade is 32 years old. A lot more has changed. Reexamination time, baby.

The only reason the left's cheating thus far has worked is that the right believes that the Constitution does not change except by amendment. Hence, traditional stare decisis suggests that once a Constitutional issue has been decided, the particular holding of that case interpreting the Constitution should be followed thereafter. But with Roper, the very reasoning used to decide the issue before the Court compels the conclusion that the particular holding is transitory, and not a final say on the Constitution's meaning. Moreover, the reasoning of Roper compels the conclusion that no decision of the U.S. Supreme Court is ever final, according to liberal orthodoxy now enshrined as law, to which stare decisis mandates adherence. Just as the non-existent penumbra of privacy expanded from Griswold to Eisenstadt to Roe v. Wade, so too must the reasoning of Roper, if stare decisis is to be followed.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

So long Stare Decisis

As promised, I have some more thoughts to share on the U.S. Supreme Court's joke of an opinion in Roper v. Simmons.

Basically, the U. S. Supreme Court has almost totally undermined the concept of stare decisis - lower courts are bound by the rulings and reasoning of higher courts. In Roper, the Supreme Court of Missouri held that under the U.S. Constitution, it was "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to execute a criminal who murdered while a minor. At the time the Missouri Supreme Court decided this, the U. S. Supreme Court's last decision on this subject was Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361 (1989), which held that it was not a violation of the Eighth Amendment to execute murderers who murdered as minors.

For 400+ years of the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition, the Missouri Supreme Court's utter disregard of the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court directly on point would be a flogging (not literally) offense. Why do we care that lower courts follow the precedent of higher courts? So that everyone is treated equally. If there is no high court guidance, then every lower court is free to interpret the law as it sees fit, virtually guaranteeing that the law will be applied unequally, and hence, unfairly and in violation of at least the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Most of Continental European legal systems do not adhere to stare decisis - which just shows how insane they really are.)

But now, according to the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court (including Sandra Day O'Connor's reasoning in her dissent), any time they are called upon to interpret the Constitution, which for them means making a value judgment, that necessarily is a mere snapshot of the current predominant social values. If social mores changed in the 16 years since Stanford v. Kentucky, when was the precise turning point?

According to the logic of the majority opinion, social mores are in constant flux and lower courts are called upon to determine those ever-changing social mores on a case-by-case, moment-by-moment basis. And since liberal constitutional interpretation is all about value judgments based on present day attitudes - a "living constitution" - literally everything is fair game for every lower court to reexamine at every instance.

Again, Scalia's dissent makes this point with utter elegance and damnation. The fact that truly brings this point home is that the murderer in Stanford v. Kentucky had his death sentence upheld, while the murderer in Roper v. Simmons had his death sentence set aside. If this is how you think the U.S. Supreme Court should be interpreting the Constitution, how do you justify this result?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Send them a bill

From Jay Nordlinger's "Impromptus" column today:

"Speaking of Canada: They have "opted out" of our anti-missile defenses. Prime Minister Martin says that his country opposes "the weaponization of space." All right: but what if missiles are heading toward Canada? Can the U.S. president possibly not shoot them down? Can he allow the preventable slaughter of millions? Is he supposed to say, "Yes, I could stop these missiles, but I respect Canadian sovereignty, and the Canadian people have spoken, and they have a right not to be protected, and . . ."

What a nightmare. Or a joke."

Actually, there is a very easy solution to this dilema. When a missile is headed for Canada, the President of the United States needs to call up the Prime Minister of Canada and ask whether they want us to shoot it down. There should be ample time for such a phone call (unless, possibly the missle is launched from a submarine off Canada's coast). I'm also assuming that any missile defense shield we build would be capable of stopping missiles headed to Canada, since most of their populated areas are relatively close to the U.S. border.

If Canada says "yes" then we say, great, that will be $4.3 billion dollars - U.S. dollars, mind you. That's how much your share of the development costs comes out to. Upon our receipt of the funds via wire transfer, we'll happily shoot it down.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

U.S. Supreme Court further erodes democracy

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion in Roper v. Simmons holding that the death penalty for murderers who commit their crimes under the age of 18 is "cruel and unusual punishment" and therefore prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Say what you will about the policy of capital punishment for minors (though this particular minor bragged to his friends and asked for help killing an innocent woman on the grounds that they would get away with it because they were minors) but the rationale for the decision embodies everything that is wrong - and I predict will be remedied in one or more ways I'll share later - with modern liberal constitutional interpretation. Or should that be "interpretation."

As usual, Scalia's dissent absolutely gets it right. It is worth the full read because it addresses nearly all the obviously wrong modern liberal trends in Constitutional "interpretation" - reliance on selective "International Law," reliance on selective "experts," judges substituting their own moral judgments for those of the people, etc.

For now I'll give you just one quote from the dissent which pretty much encapsulates why liberals are scumbags:

"As petitioner points out, the American Psychological Association (APA), which claims in this case that scientific evidence shows persons under 18 lack the ability to take moral responsibility for their decisions, has previously taken precisely the opposite position before this very Court. In its brief in Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417 (1990), the APA found a “rich body of research” showing that juveniles are mature enough to decide whether to obtain an abortion without parental involvement."

Read Scalia's dissent and you will have a basic understanding of all that is wrong with lefty judges and why the fight on judicial nominees is the most crucial fight Bush can wage in his final term. Every time Justice Kennedy authors one of these weak excuses for constitutional law, I always think that had it not been for Arlen Specter and the Dems "Borking" Bork, we wouldn't have to put up with this nonsense.