Patterico's Pontifications


Dunphy on “Bums” and Judge Wardlaw

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Court Decisions — Patterico @ 1:10 am

LAPD officer Jack Dunphy has an amusing piece about that Ninth Circuit decision holding that it is cruel and unusual punishment to arrest homeless people for sleeping on the sidewalk, unless you have provided free beds for each and every one. (That decision has my current vote for “Most Likely To Be Overturned by the Supreme Court.”) I’m not sure I subscribe to every last thing he says, but he sure has a way with words:

But if you were to exit the lobby of the New Otani and head south, even for only a block or so, you would experience a different Los Angeles altogether, for if you cross Third Street, especially at night, you will have crossed the River Styx to find yourself immersed in an underworld far beyond your worst imaginings. The sidewalks will be barely if at all passable, for as night descends on the city they are claimed by the homeless — known to those who eschew politically correct euphemisms as “bums” — who erect camping tents and all manner of makeshift dwellings in which to spend the night. But before falling asleep in their tents and their “cardboard condos,” these men (and a few women) will pass their time drinking, smoking crack, shooting heroin, fighting with (and occasionally murdering) each other, and preying on those decent citizens imprudent enough to wander through.

If you were mistakenly to venture into this frothing maelstrom of depravity and somehow escape unharmed, you might walk over to Parker Center and approach the impassive police officer behind the counter in the lobby. “Listen here,” you might say, “what are the police doing about all those besotted bums down the street?” You will find the answer horrifying but somehow unsurprising. “There’s not much we can do,” the cop will say. “They are enjoying the blessings of freedom guaranteed them by the Constitution, as interpreted by the ACLU and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.”

The sound you hear is that of James Madison spinning in his grave, for in a case decided last Friday, a panel of the Ninth Circuit created the constitutional right to be a bum.

Dunphy has some choice words about Kim Wardlaw, the judge who wrote the decision:

You could have all the shelters you like on Skid Row, you could even turn the New Otani into one for that matter, but if they all enforced those pesky prohibitions against the various vices there would still be a substantial number of bums out on the streets enjoying a life unconstrained by expectations that they behave themselves.

All of this would surely come as a shock to Judge Wardlaw, who apparently sees herself as a protector of the downtrodden. “All my life I have had a really keen sense of justice and injustice,” she once told the Los Angeles Business Journal. “A large part of that is derived from the fact that my mother was discriminated against in front of me when I was a young child. My father was disowned because he married a Mexican.”

Was it this keen sense of justice and injustice that inspired Bill Clinton to nominate Wardlaw for the Ninth Circuit in 1998? Or was it, as the cynic might suspect, the great heaps of cash she and her husband Bill Wardlaw bestowed on the Clintons? (The Wardlaws were among the Clintons’ guests who enjoyed a stay in the White House’s Lincoln Bedroom.)

I don’t know where Judge Wardlaw lives, but I’m confident there are two commas in the price tag of her home. And I’m just as confident there are no bums sleeping on the sidewalk outside. If there were, how long would it take her to call the police and have them rousted?

Read it all.

I’ve tried to get Dunphy to guest blog here, so far without success. If you all sing his praises in the comments, maybe we can get him on board . . .

17 Responses to “Dunphy on “Bums” and Judge Wardlaw”

  1. Here’s my appeal:

    I invite those judges to drive to 6th & San Pedro, unarmed and alone, any night at about 1 am and stop for 60 seconds with their car windows rolled down. If any one of them stays the whole 60 seconds, the appeal is rejected. Pretty sure I’d win.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  2. Nah. They gotta walk there.

    Every time I go there, someone gets in my face. That’s why I only go with people who are armed.

    Patterico (156eed)

  3. Excellent article by Mr. Dunphy. I read the decision — it’s a ridiculous stretch of Robinson v. California (which I kind of thought was a stretch of the Eighth Amendment in the first place). Hopefully, with such a strong dissent, it will be heard en banc and reversed by the full circuit. Until then, I wonder: In the absence of adequate, comfortable smoking areas can I claim that the smoking ban is unconstitutional given my status as a nicotine addict?

    nk (bfc26a)

  4. Wardlaw? The irony of the name is just too much. From now on, though, we can just denominate the area in front of one’s home or place of business where bums congregate the “wardlaw.”

    Dan Collins (1a2fae)

  5. > the great heaps of cash she and her husband Bill Wardlaw bestowed on the Clintons?

    Interesting. Having just discovered Open Secrets, I searched for California “Wardlaw” contributions for the 1990 to 2006 election cycles. The amounts recorded for William and Kim are in the $5,000 to $10,000 range per cycle–a lot of dough to most of us, sure, but enough to tilt the scales in an appointment sense? Or to have earned Frequent-Sleeper privileges in the Lincoln Bedroom?

    Either a little (in the high-roller context) goes a long way, or Open Secrets isn’t comprehensive enough to give a full picture of the soon-to-be Judge’s/Judge’s generosity.

    AMac (74b970)

  6. Liberals don’t read the Constitution, they re-write it.

    If I assemble on that same sidewalk for a speech or protest, I need to get a permit from the city. Should homeless bums be required a permit to assemble on that same sidewalk? Of course not, that would be unconstitutional!

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    Carlos's sock puppet (98df3a)

  7. Since we now appear saddled with the stationary homeless for a while I would like to offer one possible solution. Since the homeless tend to congregate in high crime locations, ie., liquor stores, laundromats, fast food restaurants, check cashing store fronts, supermarkets, City Hall and the Getty Museum, then we should arm them as a quid pro quo. We allow them to stay and they shoot the bad guys, ok well shoot in the general direction of the bad guys. So next time a cash and dash type goes into a 7/11 he just may have to think twice about the mumbling homeless guy that probably has a Glock.

    Pat Patterson (5b3946)

  8. They made bum fights illegal without having to resort to the Constitution. I guess when Libs can’t get what you want the old fashioned way — through our legislatures — they get Liberal lawyers in black robes to call it “unconstitutional.”

    David (98df3a)

  9. More proof as to why this Black Robe Fraternity is referred to as the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals.

    Paul (c169e9)

  10. This is an eye-opener. Perhaps the way we are going?

    RJN (c3a4a3)

  11. The esteemed officer Dunphy has a perch at National Review Online, so Mr. P. may have to offer him something more enticing than “guest blogger.” The Pontifications are zooming up fast, but they’re not quite at NRO level yet.

    dchamil (815e26)

  12. Believe me, I know that. It would be a coup for me, not him, for him to post here. I just thought that there might be the occasional thing he’d like to say in a blog format, rather than a full-length column.

    Patterico (156eed)

  13. He is a wonderful writer. I sure hope he does take up your offer.

    Maggie45 (3a5ee5)

  14. Carlos’s sock puppet – in a world which operated according to my policy preferences, you wouldn’t need a permit to assemble on the sidewalk for a speech or protest, either. I suspect that most liberal idealists would agree with me.

    aphrael (6b0647)

  15. Jack Dunphy is a genius. It would be a pleasure to read him anywhere, anytime. I wish he’d guest blog for you & love it so much he’d start his own.

    Susan (e189bf)

  16. That was part of the idea too. I’m trying to rope him into the whole blogging thing . . .

    Patterico (156eed)

  17. Yeah, Dunphy is really good. It’s a pleasure finding something by him on NRO (not suggesting a lot of the others there aren’t pleasures to read too!)

    He doesn’t post on the blog there often (if at all) that I’ve seen, so he may be a bit too serious as a writer to relax and let ‘er rip as opposed to the consider-write-edit-rewrite-edit-polish-scrap-repeat cycle.

    Dan S (4f3e88)

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