Monday, December 12, 2005

Judicial Accountability

Ok, first, I am not a lawyer. This is not a law blog, and I have no legal training at all. However, I have eyes to read, ears to hear, and a brain to digest that information. So perhaps occasionally I WILL divulge my thoughts on legal shenanigans and such.

Anywho, it just occurred to me: through the appeals process, many lower courts' decisions are overturned by higher courts, which may or may not be overturned by a still-higher court, all the way up to the SCOTUS (see? I know ACRONYMS!). What is occurring, effectively, is one court telling another, subservient court that it is, in fact, wrong. It has done a poor job. It failed its test. Et cetera. Of course, the Supremes are the ultimate arbitors of what decisions are right and/or wrong. If I were to turn in a report, and my ultimate boss came down and told me that all my conclusions were downright WRONG, and this happened repeatedly, would I keep my job long? Whether or not my boss was actually correct, no, I would not. I would be fired, if not after the first time, then at least the second time. And I DEFINITELY would not survive long enough to gain a reputation of one who was frequently not only WRONG, but corrected by the head honchos as well.

And yet judges, particularly at the federal level (yes, 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals, I'm talking about YOU), who maintain their jobs for as long as they please (barring "high crimes and misdemeanors", of course), have no such threat of job termination in the face of contant correction from their higher-ups. Doesn't this seem a bit fishy? It's bad enough, for ANY judge, that they keep their jobs so long (worse than a tenured moonbat professor, I'd say), but the fact that there is no oversight as to their job performance, even for such an obvious figure of merit as "sustained rulings", is a tragedy that I think explains a good deal about the corruption of our federal judiciary.

So I propose a very simple solution: three strikes and you're out. If you (as a federal judge) decided, sided, or concurred, with the majority opinion, and that opinion was ultimately voided by a higher court (i.e., the last point of its appeal resulted in a countering of your own decision) no more than THREE times, you lose your job. Period. The law of the United States is no trifling, insignificant thing, and to incorrectly interpret its law indicates a serious failure as a legal mind. To do so repeatedly indicates a serious failure not so much on the part of the indivudual, but on the legal system as a whole, for allowing an incompetent individual to exist as a member of its body for so long.

I'm willing to be flexible here. We could add to that a caveat that the overturning opinion must have been authored by a different individual in each case (to avoid personal vendettas), or perhaps even that the overturning opinion must not consist of the exact same body of justices in each of the three cases (group vendettas, perhaps?). Of course, I would then add that the number of strikes goes to 2 if such overturnings are unanimous. Perhaps, also, weight such overturned decisions by the level of the court -- so a SCOTUS decision that voids a previous decision carries more "points" than, say, an appellate court one, etc. Those are all design issues. My point here is that THERE IS NO SYSTEM CURRENTLY. Accountability, I say!

Of course, this begs the question as to: who holds accountable the SCOTUS? Nobody can overturn their decision except a later court, and at that point the overturned individual(s) would presumably be long since departed, and if not, they would be vulnerable to the very delicate shifts in balance of the court (e.g., a controversial 5-4 decision gets reversed when one of the 5 is replaced by someone of opposite leanings for another 5-4 decision), so I don't think self-accountability would be worthwhile. And no US president is ever going to become sufficiently bold enough to attempt to remove a SCOTUS justice, except in the most extraordinary circumstances (e.g., said justice was caught on tape murdering kittens or something, and even then, I'm not so sure). Such is the "balance" of power we face today.

[That leads me to an aside here: Notice how the US Congress is often bold enough to call for the removal of the president or another member of the executive branch, and it's not unreasonable for members of the executive branch to do likewise (although it's much less usual, I'd say), but how often do you hear of members of either branch discuss the removal of a particular supreme court justice? Are their jobs THAT sacrosanct? Why should we give such obeisance to the ONLY NON-ELECTED BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, when we can and often DO remove the elected officials at will? Seems to me they're the ones who should be MOST subject to scrutiny and public ire. YEEEAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGH! Okay, whew, done venting.]

Anywho, I can't think of a good solution to the question of who watches the watchmen, when the watchment are the SCOTUS justices. But I still think there's something to this system of overturned decisions being effectively a "job performance" metric by which all non-supreme jobs are either retained or lost.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Geology Boy said...

This is my understanding of this issue. I think the purpose of the Supreme Court is to interpret constitutional issues. They do not decide if abortionmurder is legal, they decide if it is an item governed by the constitution. If not, then is it something that the states have a right to regulate. This is what the stoners do not realize when they criticize Bush for not legalizing medical MJ. The President has absolutely no authority to legalize it. It is up to the Supreme Court. California sort of legalized it, but the SC overruled it saying that it is a federally controlled substance and the states have no right to supersede federal authority on that issue. The opposite thing with abortionmurder occurred. SC said that it was up to the states to regulate it. Also, the lifetime appointment of the justices is for the purpose of keeping them from corruption. No system is perfect, but after appointment, they have no allegiances to anyone, be it their appointers or a political party. They do not have to pander to popular opinion. This has bitten some appointing Presidents in the butt in the past. A conservative President appoints a judge who issues a very liberal ruling. The point is that it essentially removes the justice from the system. If they have to be accountable to any person or body, their decisions will be influenced.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

You are right in the fact that the SCOTUS decides whether law (as passed by states and/or the US Congress and approved by the president/governor/whatever) is kosher by the standards set forth in the US Constitution. However, when you suggested that the SC should determine the legality of marijuana, it is the Congress that must decide that issue, and absolutely NOT the SC. They have passed a law, and that law has passed constitutional muster (more or less). Therefore, it is up to the congress, and ONLY the congress, to change that law. THe last thing I want to see is the SC "declaring" it to be unconstitutional.

As to abortion: even (legally rational) pro-babykilling advocates will tell you that Roe v. Wade was bad law. You should look up the majority decision in that case and just read the first few paragraphs, if you can stomach it. It is so blatantly obvious that the author is pulling things out of his ass that have no basis of law. The key in that case was that the SC somehow "discovered" the inalienable right of a woman to murder her unborn baby, buried in the "penumbras, formed by emanations" of the constitution. Actually, that line may have been in Griswold v. Connecticut, a prior case which formed the basis for Roe v. Wade, and which dealt with access to birth control. Anywho, the whole point is that the supreme court made exactly the wrong decision by NOT relegating the decision to the states, as the 10th ammendment so clearly states. They declared that there was a fundamental, constitutional, federal "right" to this stuff, rather than allowing established federal law, state law, and the will of the people to be overturned. It is a popular misconception that abortion would suddenly be illegal if Roe v. Wade were overturned: actually, it would merely relegate the issue to the states to decide, which, from a federalist point of view (the correct one, I might add, and the one shared by the vast majority of the founding fathers, apart from that slave-owning rapist secularist francophile Thomas Jefferson), is the way any such issue was always meant to be handled. And of course, the states would then be required to pass laws, and those laws would be subject to the will of the people. Any guess how that would turn out (at least away from the Left Coast and the northeastern US)?

I could get into a states-rights rant right about now, but I'll spare you that. Lincoln was an ass in that regard, but at least he sped up the removal of slavery, so some good came of it, regardless of whether he meant that for altruistic purposes or just a sneaky tactic in a time of war. Either way, I'm glad I'm more closely affiliated with the party that ended slavery and wants to end legalized Child Sacrifices (on the altar of convenience, no less), rather than the party that fought to keep slavery and segregation, and now fights for the right of "mothers" to kill their children without any legal repercussions whatsoever. Hooray for us!

I like what a friend of mine back in college suggested: let there be one state in which EVERYTHING is legal (he recommended Nevada). That way, if you WANT that sort of lifestyle, MOVE THERE and LEAVE US ALONE. Want to sniff lines of coke off a hooker's back? Go there! Want to rape barnyard animals and abort the resultant abominations with a rusty spoon? Go there! Want to own slaves? Go there, but be warned that the slaves have the legal right to kill you with a dirty needle! We just seal off the area, allowing only a single entrance/exit that is perfectly guarded, and you're set! All imports are legal, all exports are forbidden. Although since Nevada recently came over to the Right side of things, I'd recommend a bluer shade of a state -- maybe Oregon. Buncha hippies...

4:25 PM  

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