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The New Ropers

The Supreme Court pays for its cheapness. Also: Bob Casey's new opponent. Rangeling Susan Estrich. Sticking up for Shawn. Plus much more.

3.3.05

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UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Re: George Neumayr's Constitution Killers:

Your commentary about the Supremes was on the mark and could be (should be!) construed as applying to all activitist judges be they city, county, state or federal.

They know not what they sow for the rest of us to reap:

"The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people -- and especially of government -- always have effects that are unanticipated or 'unintended.' Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it."

The lawyers are going to make a lot of money from applying Roper v. Simmons to a multitude of issues involving 17 year olds and younger, including the yet-to-be-born.

Let the fun begin.
-- Nelson Ward
Ribera, New Mexico

What Mr. Neumayr points to is a direct consequence of the work of that sainted, Democrat icon, that great Fabian Socialist: FDR. FDR fully realized the potential of the court when they ruled against his early New Deal initiatives. He attempted to stack the court and the Democrats from that day to this have relied on judicial fiat in lieu of legislation.

I do believe there is a step just short of armed insurrection that may re-establish a sort of balance between the branches. There is no constitutional reason why there has to be 9 justices. All Congress has to do is abolish the positions of three of them: Kennedy, Souter, and Ginsburg. No hearings. No impeachment. No trial. Just hand them their severance packages and one-way tickets to Europe. The only question is: does our legislature, with the intestinal fortitude of an amoeba and the backbone of a jelly fish, have the grit to do it. I'm not holding my breath.
-- John Jarrell
San Antonio, Texas

Judicial activism is merely the penultimate source of the woes Mr. Neumayr enumerates. The Constitution lies dead not at the feet of judges but at those of Congress and the American people. No recent President nor Congress has exhibited the will to ignore the Supreme Court when it has overstepped its bounds. We have acquiesced to the Court's authority in all manner of things never intended by the Constitution. And why? Because that's precisely what left-liberal politicians have wanted and Americans have accepted. What couldn't be legislated on our march to socialist, PC and diversity nirvana would be litigated.

I cannot understand how anyone can blame the judges for doing precisely what they were hired to do. If these same federal judges were not ensconced for this purpose, why the desperate Senatorial battle to prevent the seating of those who consider themselves bound by the Constitution? Already there are indications that some Republican Senators are shying away from using the "nuclear" option to stymie Democratic judicial nomination filibusters. So much for their political courage. Oh, and let's not forget the Republican obeisance to Arlen Specter.

Even President Bush appears intent on trashing the First Amendment by chiming in on the chorus to limit or prohibit the 527 political advocacy groups. If the First Amendment was meant to do anything it, was meant to forbid the restriction or prohibition of political speech. But all branches of the Federal government have colluded in restricting political speech with McCain-Feingold and now the politicos want to close the 527 "loophole."

Blame the Judiciary for what is most certainly a Constitutional crisis? No way, Jose! That argument is the ultimate red herring. The whole situation could be turned around tomorrow if we possessed the political will to do so.
-- Dennis Sevakis
Bloomfield, Michigan
(P.S If you don't think this is the case, just check out Michelle Malkin, where she points out the current efforts to regulate Internet speech.)

"The authority of Supreme Court justices derives from the authority of the Constitution: once they deny its authority, they deny their own."

Thank you for showing the courage to expose the naked emperors. I have long received blank stares when I pointed this out; I think conservatives have avoided this obvious conclusion for fear of legitimizing civil disobedience.

But as your article clearly shows, it is the justices, and their supporters, who are delegitimizing themselves. It is simply willful ignorance to suggest otherwise.
-- Edward A. Ipser, Jr.

Your excellent article defines the theory and it's spot on. But now, there is a tragic practical result of this ruling as well. Gang members aren't dumb. So all those 19, 20, and 21 year old gang leaders will recruit 14-17 year olds to be on hit squads. They can go out and kill someone with impunity knowing full well they cannot get the death penalty even for an execution-style killing.

And where is the liberalistic compassion in such outcomes? The areas most impacted by such a ruling will be the very same areas that a lot of these destructive gangs inhabit -- low income urban centers. So the Gang in Black has just ratcheted up the violence on the group least likely to be able to resist its effects. Very compassionate indeed.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

I know George Neumayr is your executive editor and all, but his logic is starting to slip. I agreed with most of his article, but by the end he was falling into the same trap that discredits the originalist interpretation of the Constitution. In his last paragraph, Mr. Neumayr reminds us that in the Founding Father's day, 17 years old was middle age and they had no problem executing criminals of this age. But guess what, 17 is no longer middle age! Believe it or not, the world has changed since the late 18th century, and some of the values and worldview that even modern conservatives hold would be foreign to our forefathers. They thought that blacks should be slaves and that women weren't fit to vote.

I agree that we need to maintain a general fidelity to the ideals upon which this country was founded, but to go to the extreme of believing that we must follow the words of the Framers as if they were from the Bible, infallible and unchanging, is truly absurd. If we were to follow Mr. Neumayr's logic, 17 is still middle age because that's what the Founding Fathers thought. I wouldn't expect anyone but a teenager to follow this logic, but it seems good enough for your editor!
-- unsigned

Today I turn 61. I couldn't have expressed my feelings about the "Constitution Killers" any better than George Neumayr did, in his article of this date, if I lived to be a 102.

I hope his next article is to offer a solution to the problem. I think "hang 'em high" should be amongst the choices.
-- Bob Minarik
Rochester, Indiana

While I would not wish for Congress to start impeachment proceedings against any Supreme Court Justice on the basis of his or her ruling in a single case, it would be both useful and beneficial for Congress to communicate it's intention to rein in the court.

Whether this would take the form of some kind of censure, or whether the court were warned well in advance that a given piece of legislation was not to be blithely dismissed, some kind of rebalancing is definitely in order.

Sadly, in the end an impeachment may be necessary, as the Constitution provides very few other means for correcting the court.

Thanks,
-- John S

Re: Roper vs. Simmons:

The decision to halt these executions does not upset me, but the justification used has me angrier than I have been since Al Gore tried to steal the election.

This citizen finds it unacceptable for our high court to be entertaining any form of "international law" as an excuse for enacting (and that is what they are doing) into law whatever they damn well please. In my judgment the mere use or reference to "international law" by a SCOTUS justice constitutes an impeachable offense.

Why?

1) The US Constitution, Article VI, requires that "...judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution."�

2) Basing judicial decisions on cherry-picked aspects of "international law" is an inherent violation of the duty of all US civil servants to act in accordance to law and the United States Constitution.

What are we going to do? This cannot be allowed to stand, much less continue to grow. The five justices who decided this are out of control and the people must reassert themselves. I have written more emails on this issue than any other in my entire life. Keep up the pressure.

Supreme Court members may have robes, but no one gave them crowns
-- Donovan Hinds
Bethesda, Maryland

Regarding George Neumayr's "Constitution Killers": The genius of the U.S. Constitution is in how simple a document it is. The Breyers, Ginsburgs, and the Kennedys of the court seem miffed that it's not a more complex construct. After reading the Breyer-Scalia debate a while back, one can draw a conclusion that Breyer regrets decisions based on a simple document, for being simple. Instead he and liberals in general tend to think that, ignoble vacuous research on meaningless tangents outside of U.S. jurisprudence, suffering, or a pretense of suffering to reach a conclusion that is convoluted and complex is somehow better, or appears more intellectual. Thus in the end, no one is really harmed, until the court's decision have their impact in society.

The court will take that one up...at a later date.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

And once you are looking abroad, why limit yourself to the relatively recent European experience. What about Egyptian law? Egypt has been around for 7000 years. What about Chinese law? China has been around for 3500 years. What about Japanese law? Japan has been around for 2500 years.

What about Native American practices? The Native Americans by definition precede the European colonists. What about Islamic Law? That is codified and has been around for 1,400 years, far longer than any modern European country.

And what about the wisdom of aboriginal peoples? The headhunters of New Guinea have been in their habitat since before historical times, which takes us back at least 8,000 years. THAT is pretty impressive precedent.

Today Europe. But tomorrow, sure as the sun is going to come up, someone is going to point out that that is civilizationist -- an arbitrary and narrow reference to the gorgeous mosaic of human experience.

And, finally, what is the law? Does it exist in the abstract, like the laws of physics? Is it context independent? No. It codifies the interaction between people. The whole basis of the legitimacy of American law is that it is created and can be changed by the public. On what basis does one cite laws not dependent on that legitimacy?

After all, the Nazis (as Senator KKK Byrd observed most amusingly in a different context) were careful to create a legal framework for their society. The Nuremberg Laws established the status of the various races in Germany. Would that be a useful precedent for the Supreme Court? Germany had claim to being the most advanced society in Europe at the time those laws were passed.

Why would they not apply to the United States? For one very good reason. They were not passed by American legislatures and they were therefore outside the bounds of the Constitution which protects us all. Once you discard that, then you have opened the floodgates. Never forget that Hitler had claim to IMPROVING German society and was very popular up to the middle of the war. He had the APPROVAL of his public. To many people, Fascism and National Socialism were the wave of the future.

There have been MANY fads among the intelligentsia in the 20th century which one does not now mention in polite company, such as eugenics, which was the progenitor of Planned Parenthood. Giving up our rights under the Constitution and the procedures it directs would be a disaster of biblical proportions.
-- Greg Richards

Please let us (Me) know what, if anything, can be done by individual citizens to express our indignation of theses justices and their decisions.
-- Mark Crawford

MORE THAN A GO
Re: The Washington Prowler's Casey: It's a Go:

Just to keep you up to date on Pennsylvania politics: former State Treasurer Barbara Hafer yesterday announced her intention to run for the Democratic nomination against Rick Santorum. Hafer is a longtime Republican pro-abortionist who was twice elected as State Auditor General and twice elected as State Treasurer. Her sole statewide loss -- a slaughter, really -- was as Republican gubernatorial candid in 1990 against Bob Casey, Sr., whom she inelegantly labeled a "redneck Irishman" for his pro-life views.

Hafer is a very stubborn woman who seriously hates the pro-life Santorum wing of the Pennsylvania Republican Party. When it was clear that she could not gain the nod for the 2002 Republican nomination for governor over pro-life Attorney General, now federal judge, Mike Fisher, she stomped off, endorsed Democrat Ed Rendell, and eventually announced her party switch. This is very personal for Hafer, who has a penchant for carrying long and large grudges against the likes of Santorum, Fisher and the Casey clan. With the backing of Emily's List a lock, one shouldn't expect Ms. Hafer to easily or quietly step aside in favor of young Bobby Casey. This might be a good time to invest in Tum's ® -- Pennsylvania Democrats and the DSCC will be buying them by the truckload before this is all over.

One more thing: conservatives should be VERY careful about supporting a Bobby Casey candidacy on pro-life grounds alone. Casey is a textbook liberal on virtually every other issue, save gun control. Rick Santorum's re-election is critically important to the future of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, and especially to the prospects of pro-life conservatives -- including presidential candidates -- on running statewide.
-- John Shirvinsky
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

I'm well aware of Bob Casey Jr.'s stated positions and pedigree, but I don't really trust it. Wasn't Tom Daschle also a "pro-life Catholic" when he ran for the Senate all those years ago? Dick Gephardt was similarly pro-life (though a Baptist) when I lived in the St. Louis area in the mid-1970s. It seems that many Democrats run as reasonably sounding centrists when they first seek a national seat and then slowly lose their convictions. We may be witnessing the most extreme version of this in the makeover of the junior Senator from New York as she prepares for a run for the Presidency. I hope that the people of Pennsylvania will keep that in mind in 2006.
-- Chris Symank
Reedley, California

I believe former RINO and now Democrat, Babs Hafer has announced she will run for the Senate nomination in PA. She is the pro-choice boob who secured Gov. Casey's re-election when she referred to him as a redneck Irishman from Scranton. The nomination battle should be a hoot and cost both Bob and Babs a great deal of money.
-- unsigned

SEOUL ON ICE
Re: Doug Bandow's Appeasing North Korea:

As usual Doug Bandow hits the nail squarely on the head. In a recent editorial the Korea Times newspaper referred to a "recalcitrant" North Korea and an "arrogant" U.S. government. Who do you think Koreans consider to be the greatest threat to peace? The regime that keeps threatening to turn Seoul into a sea of fire or the government that has provided the security for the ROK to grow into the 10th largest economy in the world? That's right, it's the evil old USA! South Koreans aren't even interested in reunification unless they can get someone else to pay the costs. As for the refugees they don't want them. They would prefer they go somewhere else and not bother them. No matter what happens in the future the USA will get blamed for anything that goes wrong. --- Chris Buckley

SHAWN SHINES
Re: Shawn Macomber's Re-Enfranchising Felons and the "Jailing the Vote" letters in Reader Mail's Get Out of Jail Free:

This is regarding reader reactions to Shawn Macomber's
"Re-Enfranchising Felons":

The fact that at least a couple of the respondents attack Macomber personally, suggesting that he's become "Kennedy-like" and "morphing into another David Brock," tells me that they suspect a flaw in their own argument. It is clear as well that most of the anti-reenfranchisement faction have as their main fear the possibility or probability that the ex-felons will vote Democratic. Every day, lefties let politics take precedence over justice and virtue; clearly they don't have a corner on this market.

It is an easy matter to decide, broadly speaking (and not denying the necessity for fine-tuning the details). If a person has "paid his or her debt to society," they deserve to vote again. If they cannot vote, that shows they have not yet paid their debt to society. They should therefore be thrown back into prison.
-- Jeffrey S. Erickson
Davidson, North Carolina

I see Macomber has been properly chastised for his article on giving ex-felons back their voting rights. While there is merit to that issue, (in Vermont, convicted felons have the right to vote while in prison for state elections and never lose it), it is something for debate. Like the so called student vote in our college towns, it's a myth that they will elect certain type people or even affect a vote outcome. The only time that would happen is if everyone else stays home. Our Constitution only takes away the right to vote because of felony convictions while state laws vary. In some states, a felon could be declared civilly dead, thus losing all rights period, other states restore limited rights, while some may restore fully. It also depends on the type of offense. The real issue seems to be that convicted felons will vote contrary to what some of us believe. In reality, we have more to fear from those not convicted than those convicted. The crux of the issue is not whether these people have shown a laxity in their morals( remember Clinton, or Barney Frank, etc.) but whether they are willing to assume the responsibilities of a citizen of this country once their debt is paid. For the most part, these people are no more likely to vote than the average citizen, nor are they more likely to vote for liberals. So lay off Shawn. He brought up some very legitimate points whether you agree with him or not.
-- Pete Chagnon

Nice work publishing the self-righteous letters from the felon haters.

I commit a felony. I manage to plea bargain down to misdemeanor. Does that make me an unfelon? How about your own Ben Stein? I just read his article about he and his reprobate son "driving dangerously." That's a felony in lots of jurisdictions. Stein and his kid are not unfelons, just lucky. No votes for Stein and Stein, curse their felonious hearts!

All of the letter writers are without sin, no doubt. Perhaps not. How about the times most of them drove over the legal limit for alcohol and did not get caught? Remember those college days? All that beer? Unfelons or lucky? Isn't adultery a felony here and there? Buggery/"Oral Sodomy" for the gays? How about those tax filings and those "expenses" they declared back in '95 before they got canonized? Since they are all so honest and good I expect them all to turn themselves in now.

If you take away the vote for being a stupid sinner then you are left with 1% of the people voting. If you remove it for being an unlucky stupid sinner then...

How about a compromise: Felons get the vote back after all time/probation served plus 5 (or 10 or 15) years completely clean?

If you don't like that, get me a stone, I want to be first.
-- Fred Z

Shawn Macomber's article disturbed me enough to make some observations. I find his claim that "there is no legitimate moral argument for denying those who have regained their status..." as offensive, but more importantly, completely wrong. I'm confident many legitimate moral arguments will be forthcoming.

The point is made that, "...there is a Democratic advantage inherent in the felon vote." and ...99.9 percent of [felons] would vote Democratic..." and "…felons don't tend to vote Republican." But the point is made without an explanation as to why. But then again, perhaps the explanation would raise a legitimate moral argument against re-enfranchising.

Of the two foundations that Shawn brings up, and again, I believe there will be more foundations forthcoming, my belief lies most heavily with the first. Felons, many of which are repeat offenders, have given notice on society that they feel they are above the rule of law. Why should they be allowed to participate in a system they have nothing but contempt for? I'm confidant that's what our Founding Fathers had in mind, and also why the law has not been changed.

Macomber does make a point of separating violent and nonviolent felons, I believe, at his own undoing. It is the nonviolent felon who is probably more a threat to the democratic process then anyone else. The nonviolent felon is probably someone that has been incarcerated for manipulating or conning other people (embezzlement, fraud, blackmail, extortion, drug trafficking).

Getting back to why felons would vote for Democrats - - if re-enfranchisement were to actually occur, just think of the political incentives Liberals would have in further denigrating our criminal justice system and our law enforcement agencies to the point of total ineffectiveness, driving felons from incarceration straight to the ballot box!
-- Anthony Mastroserio
Princeton, New Jersey

There is certainly room for debate on this subject, but in every discussion that I have seen to date, some questions have yet to be answered. When one discusses what is meant by having paid a debt to society, rarely is it specified what constitutes "Paid in Full." Where felons have completed incarceration, but remain on probation or parole, they have not fully paid their debt, and can be returned to prison for failing to meet technical requirements because they have in fact already not completed these sentences. Once probation or parole is completed, have all court ordered monies associated with the sentence been satisfied is a question that must be answered.

I can state from practical experience in the criminal justice system in a state that allows felons to register to vote five years after the completion of their sentences that these requirements are not being currently met in many cases.

The pardons process exists in almost every state. Requiring an individual to go through this process in order to restore voting (or any other rights lost through a felony conviction)should actually require all questions to be answered rather than blanketly re-enfranchise all offenders, or create categories not understood or followed by the average Department of Elections.

As far as the assertion goes that most of the real monsters are still behind bars, I would encourage you to do more research. A large number of convicted murderers, robbers, rapists and the like walk the streets with you every day. Now the line for the voting booth is one more place you may be standing alongside such an individual.
-- unsigned

I don't necessarily agree with the arguments put forth, but more importantly, is it not the province of the states to legislate on the matter of election law for their residents, the voting rights act not withstanding?
-- unsigned

I was always taught that voting was a privilege. That meant being informed, registering and being a responsible citizen. Being a felon is but one reason the constituted people can deny this privilege by virtue of the felon having done damage to the community. I cannot accept the notion that voting is a right.
-- GMS
Media, Pennsylvania

DESPERATELY SHRIEKING SUSAN
Re: Avi Dov Klein's The Jomo Kenyatta Professor of Law:

Bravo to Avi Dov Klein and the Spectator for the marvelous expose of Susan Estrich. A regular on many of Fox News Channel's program's, Estrich's voice is a blend of Gravel Gerty and nails on a chalk board, matched only by that remarkable photo that the Spectator used. To quote that famous American philosopher, Bart Simpson -- "Aaiiee, Carumba!!". I realize that Fox seeks to be fair and balanced, and does have to include such left-wing luminaries as Estrich, Alan Colmes, Julian Phillips, Juan Williams and others, but come on! You can do better than that!
-- Jim Bjaloncik
Stow, Ohio

Avi Dov Klein's lovely article illustrates the comic irony of modern feminism. As their enemies, conservatives have nothing to fear from them. It's their erstwhile friends on the left that are now targeted, as a movement long since spent of its power and relevance lashes out at those who prove to be lacking in their fervency and quota-filling.

One minor quibble -- the USC campus is indeed set among some of the meanest streets in L.A., but is nowhere near Compton.
-- Ron Finch
Sydney, Australia

We have a radio show here in Ocala, Florida, "The Drive Time Happy Hour," whose co-host PC claims that Susan Estrich and Charlie Rangel are really one and the same person. If you listen to the two voices, this makes a lot of sense. With your latest picture of Susan online, even the visuals are coming closer together. Certainly they are of one mind.
-- Ken Kalis

I wonder if Susan Estrich ever taunted Janet Reno about her battle with Parkinson's.
-- Tom McLennon
Gainesville, Florida

NO MORE MISS NICE GUY
Re: Pat Hefferman's letter ("No End to the Kidding") letter in Reader Mail's Get Out of Jail Free, Michael McClone's letter ("Big Girls Don't Cry") in Reader Mail's Sinners Unrepentant, Shawn Macomber's Deaniacs.com and Rian Watt's letter (under "Revenge of the Howies") in Reader Mail's Howie Who?:

When I was in Junior High School, which was well before the "dumbing down" of the curriculum, we were given an assignment to write a sonnet in iambic pentameter. I was the only one in the class of 125 who produced a correct document; although reading it now makes me wince (as well it should) because of content, it was technically perfect.

I still have the paper as it was graded. At the top of the page, my teacher wrote "THIS IS SO GOOD, I WONDER IF YOU REALLY WROTE IT. IF YOU DID, CONGRATULATIONS!"

That was forty-one years ago, and to this very day this two-sentence mockery of my hard work makes me grind my teeth.

The insistence by some that anybody under the age of 35 is incapable of writing a grammatical, coherent, well thought out letter is an outrage similar in magnitude to the snide comment of that English teacher of mine. I hope one day those two kids are elected to Congress and seek you out for an IRS audit.
-- Kate Shaw

SELF-CORRECTING
Re: Bradley E. Foster's letter ("Beware the Anti-DDT Hype") in Reader Mail's Sinners Unrepentant:

In a previous letter, I twice referred to Plasmodium as "multi-cellular". It is not. It is UNICELLULAR, a sporozoan. I do in fact know better, I just inexplicably typed the wrong word. Silly me. Perhaps I have worked with vector-borne viruses a little too long!
-- Bradley E. Foster

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