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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Judge Scalia's Neighborhood

In a contentious decision handed down today, the Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty can't be meted out to those under 18. While it isn't an issue in many parts of the country, three specific states -- Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia -- have executed minors in the past, and are pretty liberal with the one-way passes to the chair anyway.

Notable in dissent was Antonin Scalia, who said:
The court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our nation's moral standards - and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislature.
Now I really have no idea if Scalia is a fine legal mind or not. I certainly hear all the time that he is, mostly from people who are not lawyers and have probably never read one of his legal decisions (and that means you, Monica Crowley) so I'm not going to pass on an unreliable opinion as my own. I do know, however, that he is using this dissent as an opportunity to play a fine bit of politics and fan the flames of Congressional wingers, particularly Rep. Tom Feeny (R-FL), who introduced a resolution last year which threatens with impeachment any Supreme Court Justice who cites a foreign law in a decision.

It's an absurd proposition. US law cannot be rendered in a vacuum, especially when it comes to areas like intellectual property and maritime law that depend on a high degree of international cooperation. Why, it wasn't so very long ago that the Supremes handed down this decision construing the Warsaw Convention in Chan v. Korean Airlines, Ltd.:
For the reasons given above, we agree with the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada, see Ludecke v. Canadian Pacific Airlines, Ltd., 98 D.L.R.3d 52 (1979), that the Warsaw Convention does not eliminate the limitation on damages for passenger injury or death as a sanction for failure to provide adequate notice of that limitation.
And who is the author of this opinion? Well -- that would be Justice Scalia, writing for the majority.

Hey Monica, can you say the word H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E?

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)