So at this point I get to add my complaints. The court has made three critical decisions in the last few days, two along straight 5-4 ideological lines and one 5-3 with one recused. First they decided that using capital punishment for those convicted of child rape is "cruel and unusual" punishment, second they decided that the 2nd amendment includes the right of self-defense, and third they reduced the punitive damages from the Exxon Valdez oil spill from $2.5 billion to $500 million. It is my firmly held conviction that they are wrong on all three.
A strange thing is happening here. I am actually siding with the conservative element of the court on the capital punishment decision. Don't get me wrong. I am opposed to capital punishment. I am in full agreement with the sentiment expressed by the child who asked, "Is capital punishment when we kill people to prove that killing people is wrong?" I am absolutely convinced that violence is never an appropriate response to violence. However, I am just as convinced that if we are going to use capital punishment for any crimes, the crime of child rape ought to be included. I do not understand the logic of the majority which does not see the violence of rape used against the most helpless in our society as being worthy of the highest level of punishment. It is a rare set of circumstances which has me agreeing with Justice Samuel Alito when he said, it means the death penalty would be barred
"no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator's prior may be."
Things are back to normal on the handgun decision. I am firmly in the camp of the liberal justices. Justice Scalia, speaking for the majority says, "the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right." I've read the 2nd amendment many times. It is one of the shortest of the Bill of Rights, only 27 words, and I find nothing that guarantees a right of "self-defense." This is judicial activism at its best.
I am in complete agreement with Justice Stevens that "there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution."
Justice Stephen Breyer, states it even more clearly:
"The majority's conclusion is wrong for two independent reasons. The first reason is that set forth by Justice Stevens _ namely, that the Second Amendment protects militia-related, not self-defense-related, interests. These two interests are sometimes intertwined. To assure 18th-century citizens that they could keep arms for militia purposes would necessarily have allowed them to keep arms that they could have used for self-defense as well. But, self-defense alone, detached from any militia-related objective, is not the Amendment's concern.And finally there is the most clear-cut example of judicial activism in favor of corporate America. Of course no one should be surprised that a Bush dominated court would protect the profits of his paymasters. The reasoning behind the decision to cut the punitive damages by 80% is that punitive damages may not exceed what the company already paid to compensate victims for economic losses. Just for the record, the $500 million amounts to four days worth of profits for Exxon.
"The second independent reason is that the protection the Amendment provides is not absolute. The Amendment permits government to regulate the interests that it serves."
Justice Ginsburg, in dissent, declared that the court was engaging in "lawmaking" by concluding that punitive damages may not exceed what the company already paid to compensate victims for economic losses. She concluded that this was a "new law made by the court should have been left to Congress."
I find it saddening that the oil-man president's court will not stand up for the rights of children to be safe from rape but will stand up for the rights of oil companies not to be held accountable for their actions.