Monday, April 06, 2009

The Why Chromosome

Some day, when I have kids, I hope to instill in them the importance of asking why.  Two recent cases I've read for class have made me want to ask the writers that question.

First, a dissenting judge in a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals case once wrote:
I believe that if this Court were abolished, its chambers demolished, the ground plowed up, and the site paved over, one day a crack would appear in the concrete, and through that crack a black-robed arm would thrust an opinion that says, "We hold that the indictment in this case was not an indictment."

Pretty harsh words.  What are those judges, ostensibly neutral, intelligent, and skilled legal analysts, doing invalidating indictments?  It can't possibly be that there's some good reason to invalidate the indictment.

And second, Justice John Paul "the Second" Stevens dissented in the recent gun control case (D.C. v. Heller).  He contested Scalia et al.'s interpretation of the Second Amendment and concludes:
The evidence plainly refutes the claim that the [Second] Amendment was motivated by the Framers' fears that Congress might act to regulate any civilian uses of weapons.
(emphasis mine).  Why did five of the nation's most highly respected jurists, ostensibly neutral, intelligent, and skilled legal analysts themselves, ignore such plain evidence?  It couldn't possibly be that the evidence wasn't quite so plain.

Sometimes people do things that I think are stupid.  But I have to remember to pause and reflect.  People aren't really that stupid, so they must have (or think they have) some good reason for acting stupid.  Even those crazy judges (who must be on some payroll) who claim to be protecting individual rights but are really just helping keep criminals out on the streets.


Billy Edwards said...

I don't suppose I ever told you Edwards' rule of life #1. My kids know it well, and thus far, after 53 years, it has proved inviolable. The #1 rule is this...people are always dumber than you think. No matter how dumb you think they are, they really are dumber than that.

Jeremy Masten said...

Your rule of life #1 reminds me of my favorite Douglas Adams quote: "Yes, it is true that sometimes unusually intelligent and sensitive children can appear to be stupid. But stupid children can sometimes appear to be stupid as well. I think that's something you might have to consider."