Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Critiquing the courts when accused rapists go free

The Washington Post editorializes its understandable dismay over a recent local judge’s decision:

“AMAN [sic] ACCUSED of raping a 7-year-old girl and of sexually assaulting an 18-month-old toddler is walking the streets today, thanks to a court ruling that ought to be reversed.” Bad Interpretation - washingtonpost.com

They then give a fair outline of the issues involved (although the accused, Mr. Kanneh, being denied a chance to vindicate himself hardly seems that significant matter – least of all to Mr. Kanneh). But a fair editorial is marred by this nonsensical conclusion:

“This case has garnered extraordinary publicity -- among newspapers and bloggers and on television. Some of that attention has been disturbing. The judge has been unfairly pilloried for doing nothing more than exercising her best judgment in interpreting the law. This kind of abuse only serves to erode confidence in the justice system as a whole and may make another judge think twice before issuing a decision he or she believes is right but is likely to be unpopular. When that happens, justice itself is undermined.”

I wonder if the following counts as pillorying for Washington Post purposes:

"Judge Savage’s America is a land in which sexual assaulters are free to force little children into back-alleys, toddlers sit too afraid to eat their lunch, perverts could break down infants' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be free of worrying about released pedophiles, rapists could be freed at the whim of a judge over mere technicalities”

Is that fair? Of course it isn’t but for context here’s Ted Kennedy commenting on Judge Bork after the Judge was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Reagan.

"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government." Robert Bork - Wikipedia

And so impressed the Post must have been with the Senator’s style and manner that they later gave him a voice in their Op-Ed section. As usual, Ted Kennedy took the opportunity to enhance our appreciation of our Judiciary:

“Our new justices consistently voted to erode civil liberties, decrease the rights of minorities and limit environmental protections. At the same time, they voted to expand the power of the president, reduce restrictions on abusive police tactics and approve federal intrusion into issues traditionally governed by state law.” Roberts and Alito Misled Us (Ted Kennedy in the Washington Post – July 30, 2006)

Of course, the Post is also a consistent contributor to our overall appreciation and respect for justice, even when they disagree:

“Nearly as galling is the majority's paternalistic pretense that the law can be justified by Congress's interest "in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession" and in protecting pregnant women from making a choice they may come to regret…

“The willingness of the two new justices to stray so far from the court's previous rulings is disappointing and ominous.” A Shift on Abortions - washingtonpost.com April 18, 2007

The judiciary is an equal branch with the executive and legislative branches – no more, no less. Their actions are therefore just as deserving of our scorn (or praise) as any action of the other two branches. The Post has long acted accordingly – it should not be so sanctimoniously aghast when others join in.

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