Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Judges ensure that more Californians will be hurt by bad people

Last week, a British judge ruled that Birmingham City Council’s plans to cut services to the elderly and the handicapped was illegal. Now, whatever the merits of the original decision, I’m mystified as to what business it is of anyone but the council and its rate-payers. When did judges start running our councils?

In a parallel - but far more dramatic - example of judicial interference, the US Supreme Court yesterday ordered that up to 46,000 prisoners in California be released from jail because overcrowding in the state’s prison system means that the felons’ constitutional rights are being violated under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. A federal court order was originally issued in 2009, and Supreme Court judges rejected a state appeal by a 5-4 majority.   

When I read the story this morning I assumed I was either still asleep or had somehow sustained a severe concussion without realising it.

The fact is that California’s prisons are overcrowded – they house 148,000 malefactors instead of the 80,000 they were designed to accommodate. And that’s a crying shame, of course. It must be jolly uncomfortable for the inmates. Ah, diddums!
Gee! I wish I wuz in California!

Now, what I don’t know is why the hell California – which was under the control of a supposedly Republican governor until last November – didn’t simply build more prisons. Yes, it’s expensive, but the only real reason Americans pay taxes is so that the state will protect them: and locking up bad people so they can’t hurt good people is the first of two things taxes should be spent on before anything else (the other is protection from foreign attack). Everything else is of secondary importance.

But that’s not the real issue – because, to be honest, I could less about the conditions in which convicted muggers, rapists, gangbangers, burglars, terrorists, fraudsters and child abusers are held. Nobody forced them to hurt other people. And if, as the malignly compassionate liberal judges argued, overcrowding means that some prisoners aren’t getting treatment for medical conditions and mental health problems, well, order the state to deal with those specific cases. But to simply demand a vast reduction in numbers without suggesting what the state is supposed to do to keep its citizens safe – in fact the ruling actually states that some prisoners will have to be set free before they’ve served their full sentence - represents an act of gross, wicked irresponsibility. What about the rights of all those Californians who haven’t done evil unto others?

Naturally, the BBC News online report doesn’t bother mentioning what the four dissenting judges had to say (obviously right-wing nut-jobs). Meanwhile, Fox News - possibly the least-biased news outlet in the world -reported that Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by the redoubtable Justice Clarence Thomas, had this to say: "It is also worth noting the peculiarity that the vast majority of inmates most generously rewarded by the release order -- the 46,000 whose incarceration will be ended -- do not form part of any aggrieved class even under the Court’s expansive notion of constitutional violation. Most of them will not be prisoners with medical conditions or severe mental illness; and many will undoubtedly be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym."


The other two dissenting judges attacked their colleagues for not taking into account the progress officials had made in addressing the problems highlighted in 2009, and went on to question the wisdom of giving federal judges the authority to run state penal systems. Yes, indeed.

Thanks to the appointment of politically-motivated left-wingers to the Supreme Court over many years, America’s elected representatives have suffered shocking interference. This was all well and good when it was a question of addressing institutionalised moral evils such as states not allowing blacks to vote – but nowadays it seems to be all about protecting the socially irresponsible. Do these liberal judges simply hate ordinary, decent, law-abiding Americans? If you go out of your way to reward bad behaviour, you create bad societies. Is that really what these fools want?Or don’t they care as long as they get to feel morally superior to the poor bastards who have to make things work in the real world.

complained recently about our judges interpreting mainly European law to follow their own political leanings. It’s much, much worse in the States, where for decades lefty judges have been deliberately misinterpreting the constitution in ways that would have horrified those who drafted it, all the while hiding behind terms such as “evolving standards” and “the conscience of the community”. 

Conscience? Give a liberal power, and they seem to misplace theirs immediately.

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