« The Invention of the Homosexual Saints | Main | Distributism at the Margins »

The Benevolent Oligarchs Pronounce: No Execution of Minors

Though it is a relief that, for the moment, this barbaric exercise is stopped, we must realize that our languid democracy passed another milestone today on its decline into judicial tyranny with the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in Roper v. Simmons. The Court held, as expected, that executing minors is unconstitutional. According to the 5-4 majority, minors are “categorically less culpable than the average criminal,” and so executing them would violate the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. That position is a rational and defensible position to take.

However, the reasoning the Court uses to get there is ominous. This decision, rife with philosophical inconsistencies and tainted by an unbecoming reference to foreign and international law, marks yet another exhibit in the imperial Court’s legislative will, and hints at the chaos that is washing over our judicial system.

First, the Court takes it upon itself to examine “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” in order to determine if execution of juveniles is cruel and unusual. This examination consists of a strange calculus of simply counting those states that permit juvenile execution and those that do not. This ignores the fact that every state allows for juveniles to be treated as adults in non-capital offenses, and that before today States had the liberty to revisit the issue. No matter. For the meat of their “consensus” argument, the Court goes to the academy, the least representative subdivision of the population. They cite numerous law review articles and academic studies in support of their assertion. The Court has no business interpreting at arm’s length the intents and underlying convictions of State legislatures. They are singularly unqualified to do this. The vaunted independence of the judiciary, which isolates them from the influences of the electorate, works both ways. As Justice Scalia points out in yet another scathing dissent, with this decision the Court “proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation’s moral standards.”

Further, the rigidity of the rule is fundamentally undemocratic. The line of 18 years is arbitrary, and simple common sense says that some 18 year olds are fully mature and others border on imbecility. The best forum for determining that is the trial court. Note that the opinion does not shy away from Roper’s actions. Indeed, he serves the Court’s purpose well in that if this demon is free from execution, any juvenile killer will be. Bear in mind that the petitioner here is not seeking to mandate juvenile execution nationwide, but only asserting that in jurisdictions where the people have approved it through their legislatures, juries should be free to weigh the brutality of the crime against the mitigating factor of possible immaturity, an individual examination that this Court has previously mandated. No more. This topic now joins the long list of questions, headed by abortion, that have now been removed from any debate in any State legislature in the land.

Finally, the tortured logic the Court embraces is dangerous. It is said to be irrefutable that minors have less conception of right and wrong, that they are more impetuous and that their characters have not been formed. This language is hauntingly familiar to the language of the greater victim culture at large. How long until a federal Court applies this logic to black males from the inner city? Because of society’s indifference to the inner city and its law of the jungle ethos, it may be soon argued, minorities have less of a conception of right and wrong. Because of society’s abandonment of minorities, an activist Court will say, their characters are not well formed. It is clear that the Court has framed capital punishment in order to set the stage for its eventual abolition by undemocratic means.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (2)

Jason A.:

The USCCB, of course, filed a brief encouraging the Court to end execution of minors. While no doubt a seeminly grisly practice, I'm not sure I don't (a) trust states to appropriately use their discretion in the manner, and (b) think if the practice is so barbaric it won't eventually be ended in those 18 states that practice it.

Additionally, I wonder if the bishops have learned anything from the new judicial supremacy. Hello, Roe anyone?


Roe indeed, and coming soon to a federal courtroom near you: gay marriage, human cloning and stem cell harvesting.

This is another situation in which the USCCB reveals itself to be trapped in a 1950a time warp. In the good old days, they could agitate for or against a point of view in the political sphere. But those days are gone. The USCCB and the American laity need to wake up and smell the rotting corpse of consitutional law. As you point out, the price of saving 70+ minors on death row is implied consent to judicial tyranny and the many thousand murdered babies.

We live in desperate times. The battle is no longer one of articulating an affirmnation of life in the public sphere so that the truth can prevail through legislation. The battle now is to cling to our right to even be present in the public square and to save the legislative process itself. A smarter guy who had slept more recently could tie this to free will and coersion writ large...postmodern neo - totalitarianism...parallels to Islamofacism...Very Bad Things.

Article III has trampled us underfoot. I say its time for a little Aricle V action. You heard it here first: we will live to see the Court either formally rebuked or cowed via Article V.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 1, 2005 4:28 PM.

The previous post in this blog was The Invention of the Homosexual Saints.

The next post in this blog is Distributism at the Margins.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.34