I have read Gonzales v. Raich. And I’m not happy, either with the decision, or with my (usual) hero Antonin Scalia, who wrote an unconvincing concurrence. But I’m more and more impressed with Clarence Thomas.
The L.A. Times has an editorial this morning titled The Law and the Golden Rule, which argues that Mexican nationals on Death Row in the U.S. should have their sentences commuted if they were not informed of their right to consult with the Mexican consulate before trial. The editorial obfuscates the facts in classic L.A. Times style.
The editorial posits this nightmare scenario:
Imagine being arrested in a foreign country where you are unfamiliar with the language, the culture, the legal system or your rights, and never being allowed to contact a U.S. Consulate for help. That’s a nightmare that Americans overseas could face if the United States continues to be lax in respecting the rights of foreign nationals arrested in this country.
The problem with this opening paragraph is that the editorial is based on the case of Jose Medellin, whose situation doesn’t even remotely resemble that described. Let’s rewrite that opening paragraph to make it correspond with Medellin’s case:
Imagine being arrested in a foreign country where you have lived as an illegal immigrant since you were six years old — meaning you are completely familiar with the country’s language and culture. Now imagine that you are sentenced to death in that country for joining fellow gang members in the raping and killing of two young girls, aged 14 and 16.
Imagine further that, despite having been born in the U.S., you are never told of your right to contact a U.S. Consulate for help. But imagine this as well: consulting with the consulate wouldn’t have made the slightest difference to your case, because witnesses also testified at your trial that you “bragged about the assault and described using a shoelace to strangle one of the girls because [you] didn’t have a gun” and that you “put [your] foot on her throat because she would not die.”
Puts the whole “Golden Rule” in a different light, doesn’t it? In fact, the Golden Rule suggests that we are not “doing unto” Jose Medellin half of what he “did unto” those poor girls.
The editors falsely imply that the Jose Medellins of this world were “never . . . allowed” to contact their consulates — as if they had demanded to meet with someone from their embassy and were denied that right. But that was not Medellin’s claim; indeed, that is almost never the claim. In almost all cases that claim a violation of the Vienna Convention, convicted criminals complain that they weren’t told of their right to contact their consulate — not that they demanded that right, only to have it denied.
In many cases, it is completely understandable that police did not notify suspects of their consular rights — because the police often don’t even know that the suspect is a foreign national. Why do you figure so many Mexicans on Death Row weren’t given their consular rights? Often, it’s because the police had no idea that they were Mexican citizens.
That doesn’t matter. Technically, if the suspect is a foreign national, and the authorities don’t tell the suspect of his right to contact the consulate, the Convention has been violated — period.
To comply with the Convention, then, police must ask all criminal suspects whether they are foreign citizens — because you never can tell. Yet the editors of the Los Angeles Times want to carefully circumscribe the ability of police to do just that. They recently warned readers:
Beware of local cops playing federal immigration officers. That’s generally a lose-lose proposition, diminishing the ability of mistrusted police to fight crime in immigrant communities while subjecting Latinos, including American citizens, to a new type of ethnic profiling, a blanket “reasonable suspicion” for cops to stop foreign-looking individuals to ask to see their papers.
As a result, the editors called for strict limitations on police officers’ ability to inquire about a suspect’s citizenship. They argued that Police Chief Bratton “must strive to limit the practice of immigration inquiries and subject it to a battery of checks and balances” — including an approval by supervisors before a police officer can even undertake the initial inquiry.
If LAPD were foolish enough to adopt such strict limitations, some suspects would not be asked about their citizenship — and illegal immigrants are often reluctant to volunteer such information. And guess what? Even fewer Mexican citizens would be notified of their consular rights.
You can’t have it both ways, L.A. Times. You can’t make it hard for police to ask whether people are Mexican nationals, and then punish law enforcement because they failed to do that.
That is, if you care about being consistent.
Here’s a quote from a recent Supreme Court decision:
but perhaps even more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress.”
Who wrote that? Let me tell you one thing: it wasn’t Justice Scalia, who did, however, make the same argument in dissent in Lawrence v. Texas.
Answer after the jump. (more…)
I have been on vacation during the past week, and would normally cut off my guest bloggers at the knees. But there are two reasons not to.
The first and most important is that they are doing a tremendous job. They are great writers and brilliant thinkers. They make my posts look like chopped liver. (Hey, wait a second! Maybe that’s a reason that I should cut them off. When you get used to steak, you hate going back to hamburger . . . Am I overdoing the meat analogies?)
Second, I have a promotional exam to study for. It will take place in less than two weeks, and intensive blogging is killing my study time. Something has to give, and, Gentle Readers, that is going to be you. A promotion means more money, which means a happier family. So, duty to family calls. But I want you to be entertained in the meantime, and these guys know how to do that.
So I am keeping the guest bloggers for the next couple of weeks. Try to keep your cheering to a dull roar.
Warren Bell, of both NRO and ABC, took the time to respond to my rant about prime-time condom ads below. Check what I said. Here’s his response, from the comments section:
If your response to network policies is using the “off” button, I wholeheartedly applaud. Vote with your wallet — what could be a more classic conservative response? They’ll get the message quicker that way, and we (the Right) are spared the accusation of “censorship.”
As someone who I suppose you are describing when you say “network hotshot,” I can tell you that my attitude is not “you’re the one with the problem.” My attitude is that this is a business, we have a choice to run it a certain way, and then you have a choice to respond. My choice as an adult is to not care a whit about condom ads, except if my kids see them. And my choice as a parent is to get proactive about protecting them with every means possible.
I’m not sure how that qualifies as “arrogant.”
First of all, Warren, thanks for stopping by. Second, since the new ad policy appears to be only advanced by NBC and WB, and you’re a hotshot at ABC, I don’t think I would have any reason to include you on the arrogant hotshot list.
Third, it’s not just a matter of turning off the TV when the kids are around. I’m not going to have those networks on when my parents or my inlaws or my pastor come around to visit. Or in the future, when my daughter’s friends and boyfriends come around. (Although that may provide a teachable moment: “Hey, Scotty, that commercial reminds me. You know what a Colombian Necktie is? No? Then keep your hands off my baby and you won’t find out.”)
Fourth, it’s not only your choice, but your responsibility–or more precisely, the NBC and WB execs’ choice and responsibility–to run the business in a way that will maximize return to your shareholders. But there’s a diminishing return there. You can squeeze out an extra windfall from the Trojan people, but it’s going to hurt the network’s brand in the long haul. It eats into the longterm goodwill.
As I noted below, the Internet hotshots are busily trying to insulate the skeevier part of the web from people who want nothing to do with it. You guys in TV are moving in the opposite direction–moving the two together. Microsoft’s Windows XP incorporates anti-virus and pop-up blocker software that used to be third-party software. NBC and WB are now! With extra prophylactics! unless you go buy the TiVo add-on from another vendor to make the product usable during prime time. Microsoft puts up new patches every day to keep people from selling me the Cheep V1@gra!!! . You guys are giving me rubbers in prime time. They want credibility for their new medium as a source of entertainment. You TV guys are selling off yours.
Remember how Bush included that great line in his stump speech about how “John Kerry thinks the true heart of America is in Hollywood. Well, I think it’s right here in (e.g.) Altoona, Illinois”? Well, that kind of grumpery didn’t just happen overnight. It’s the result of hundreds and thousands of economically defensible (but tin-eared) business decisions, just like this one. (more…)
Go read this brilliant satire regarding those oh-so-horrific Koran allegations.