Jack Bauer for President

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Compliments of Daily Kos, our top Justice Officials, specifically Justice Scalia, appear to be using dramatic devices from Hollywood writers as justifications for constitutional interprettion. God help us.

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so.
Awesome. Recalling events that never actually happened in real life to illustrate not even theoretical constitutional tests, but purely hypothetical ones. What if space aliens threatened to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge? We clearly need to employ tactics like those we saw in Men in Black to track down and destroy the Space Alien Threat.

The article from Kos goes on to point out that Scalia had decried a trend towards citing international court opinions when examining our own constitution.

The summary at the of of Kos's article says it all:
Fictional super-heroes are perfectly reasonable to introduce into panel discussions about the legality of torture. International judicial opinions, on the other hand, are to be discarded as un-American.
I can't say I'm surprised. We have a President who insists on unilateral action and a political party unwilling to pay any heed to international affairs. So that we have a Jutice on the Supreme Court willing to use fictional, hypothetical accounts derived from a Hollywood plot device meant to entertain and thrill in lieu from opinions from actual events and interpretations from the world we actually live in doesn't surprise me too much. It depresses me, but doesn't surprise me.

13 comments:

steves 7:06 AM  

Having never watched 24, I can't comment on WWJBD.

I noticed that this was a panel discussion, as opposed to a actual case, so I really need to hear everything he said before I get too worked up. This just seems like the kind of discussion that you would have read the whole thing or risk taking something out of context.

I have read some of the Scalia opinions in which he goeas against international opinion. I don't always agree with him, but he makes a logical case. Should international law (or a foreign legal opinion) be used, absent a treaty? I saw a anel discussion on C-Span with him where he discussed the death penalty in reagrds to international law. I am anti-death penalty and I agreed with his point. The death penalty in most other countries was treated very differently in terms of due process, so applying that countries current standard wouldn't make sense without looking at the context.

Smitty 10:36 AM  

While I did recognize that it was a panel discussion, the mere fact that his name even popped up as part of such discussion is bothersome. Again, it's fine to justify constitutional interpretation on something that is fictional, but not okay to take into account international opinion.

Now I know that lawyers get their panties in a buch when non-lawyers start arguing about constitutionality and legal opinions. But from a layman's perspective, where it makes sense to include international opinion in context, ought one then do so? And even looking at the context of another country's perspective ought to help legitimize our own or possibly change our thought appropriately.

What I'm getting at is that it is harder and harder to be your own little island any more with open access to shitty opinions and instant news via the internets. It is thus that much more self-centered to say in essence "your laws and opinions don't apply to us, but ours sure apply to you" which I am afraid we have seen very recent examples of.

Plus, I hate Scalia.

steves 2:18 PM  

First of all, I don't wear panties and I certainly don't get mad when non-lawyers argue the Constitution. I know plenty of non-lawyers (present company included) that have an extensive understanding of Con Law.

I don't know enough of what was said at the discussion to have a full understanding of what Scalia was trying to say. There are certainly instances where foreign jurisprudence should be considered, but there are plenty of times where I hope it is not. As bad as things are, we have stronger civil liberties than most other courntries and I sure as hell don't want to follow most European countries in redards to free speech and privacy.

I like Scalia (most of the time). He isn't my favorite, but his opinions are always logical, consistent, and well thought out. He (or one of his clerks) doesn't drone on and on like some of the others. Unlike Stevens, he can stay awake during session.

B Mac,  2:27 PM  

TELL ME WHERE THE BOMB IS!!!!!

Oh, sorry, I had a Jack Bauer moment there...

I didn't read very carefully, so I want to make sure I got this right. From what I can tell, some Canadian judge says that we probably shouldn't use the example of Jack Bauer as the international standard for proper interrogation techniques.

And SUPREME COURT JUSTICE Antonin Scalia countered with, "but dude, did you see that thing he did with the electrical cord? He saved SoCal!!! How you gonna hate on him for that?"

The sad part about this? The Jack Bauer standard is apparently part of the latest batch of conservative talking points:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=UkMI5t6WVMs

B Mac,  2:41 PM  

As for the value of considering international law, I have conflicting thoughts.

I agree that using international standards as legal precedent in American law is ridiculous. Just because they can smoke peyote in Amsterdam doesn't mean that Americans should be able to.

However, it doesn't hurt to look at the big picture. Take, for example, the latest stats on the execution of juveniles:

"Since 2000, only five countries in the world are known to have executed juvenile offenders: China, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Iran, Pakistan, and the United States...

In the past five years, the United States has executed 13 juvenile offenders. Eight of these executions took place in the state of Texas. The rest of the world combined carried out five such executions."

Seriously Texas... When Kim Jong Il is saying, "those sick sons of bitches have issues," it doesn't mean you HAVE to stop. But you might want to think about chilling a bit...

Smitty 3:00 PM  

First of all, I don't wear panties and I certainly don't get mad when non-lawyers argue the Constitution. I know plenty of non-lawyers (present company included) that have an extensive understanding of Con Law.

ANd I didn't mean you, either. I was making a point that some people who have these discussions revert to "I'm a lawyer and you're not."

I agree that in terms of some civil liberties, especially free speech and due process, I wouldn't really want to listen to anyone else but us. But in the treatment of prisoners, when even countries with less-stellar civil rights track records are telling us we have problems, and they don't mean in that we're too liberal (in the classical sense of the word), maybe we ought to take a look.

steves 3:45 PM  

I don't remember the case, but the US no longer allows the execution of juveniles.

Our treatment of some prisoners is troublesome. I wouldn't say it is a Constitutional issue, since we are a signatory of several treaties that ban torture. We shouldn't be doing it.

Rickey Henderson 12:58 PM  

Well said Smitty. I actually blogged on the same thing recently. And even if Scalia WASN'T citing 24 in a formal legal opinion, he's still using it as the basis for an argument, which is equally scary.

The fact that radicals like Scalia treat the Geneva Convention as "quaint" and outdated scares the bejeezus out of me.

steves 1:59 PM  

When did Scalia call the Geneva Convention 'quaint?' I followed the trail back to the Canadian newspaper article that had a few small quotes from a panel discussion. This, to me, seems much ado about nothing.

Rickey Henderson 2:51 PM  

You're right, that was Alberto Gonzales, not Scalia. But their political/legal mindsets are very similar.

steves 4:41 PM  

I owuld disagree. Say what you want about Scalia, he is intelligent and logical. Gonzales is a spineless hack.

Smitty 8:15 AM  

Gonzales is a spineless hack.

At least everyone here can agree on that.

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