George Zimmerman Trial

George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin BOTH used bad judgment, but why is it that only Zimmerman’s judgment is scrutinized? The “girlfriend” testified that Martin was the one who initiated verbal contact. Recently someone tried to tell me that Martin was within his First Amendment rights to say whatever he wanted to. But by that same logic, Zimmerman was within his First Amendment rights to assemble where he wished. But it was Martin who created the confrontation between them. And Martin could have chosen to explain that he was visiting a resident and that would have diffused the situation. Let’s not forget about Trayvon Martin’s poor judgment.

More Thoughts on Death Penalty

I just finished watching The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix and I am conflicted more than ever by the death penalty. How does homocide remedy homicide? To what degree is the death penalty entrenched in antiquated Judeo-Christian religiosity? And what do the evolved states of those religions say about the preciousness of life? Does the Talmud not teach that to save one life is to save the whole world? Did Christ not teach that even the most wretched life is still worth sparing? And to what degree is pronouncing the death penalty our attempt to vangloriously exalt ourselves to equality with God to decide who should live and who should die? I think that as a society the death penalty must exist as the ultimate repudiation and condemnation of intolerable crime. But as a civilization, should we not then immediately commute that death sentence to exile (which is to say, prison)? We euthanize animals in the name of compassion, but we refuse that same compassion to those agonizing in the throes of slow natural death. Yet we force death upon those we condemn in the name of justice for the victims. Is that just a reverse–and a perverse–euthanasia? Using death in the name of compassion, not for the one dying, but for the one already dead? More death does not reverse the finality of the a priori death. And no, I haven’t been the victim of anyone like Ted Bundy, but I can say that the natural death of the alcoholic who terrorized my childhood brought me neither pleasure nor displeasure. His death closed the cover of an open book, but it did not erase the contents of the chapters.

Habeas Corpus and Actual Innocence

I am convinced that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. ___ (2013), was really about re-aligning the checks-and-balances and restoring federal courts’ authority to take corrective measures. While the decision was technically adverse to the underlying habeas corpus petition, it was overwhelmingly (and controversially) restorative to habeas corpus practice, and I think the Supreme Court chose to hear the case simply to renew its prior holdings in House v. Bell, 513 U.S. 298 (2006), and Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298  (1995), rather than to address the actual issue of Perkins’ liberty.

Writs of habeas corpus are traceable at least as far back as the Magna Carta of 1215. Basically, it’s a desperate cry to a higher authority to investigate a person’s unjust confinement. Most landmark precedents emerge from federal habeas corpus proceedings—Gideon v. Wainwright and Mirando v. Arizona are two such über-cases that every American student hears in high school. I’ve been digging around and want to take a moment to disseminate information on one particular aspect that exists in United States federal courts called Actual Innocence. Continue reading “Habeas Corpus and Actual Innocence”

Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987)

Houston v. Hill is a remarkable U.S. Supreme Court case that tackles abuses of power by police departments. The Supreme Court decided 7-2 that a Houston, Texas ordinance that was routinely used to arrest citizens for merely “arguing, talking, interfering, failing to remain quiet, refusing to remain silent, verbal abuse, cursing, verbally yelling, and talking loudly” toward a police officer.

Not only did the Supreme Court rule this type of conduct to be protected First Amendment speech, but the Supreme Court also expressed that the right to question police conduct is a fundamental distinction between democracy and dictatorship. Continue reading “Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987)”

More Enthusiasm for Sport Than for One’s “Neighbor”?

I just stumbled upon a 1970s or 1980s Billy Graham crusade. He said: “here in this stadium when you have a football game, if you’re really for Texas Tech you’re really gonna shout loud when they make a touchdown and the man who loves his neighbor the most will fight all that hurts and deprives and oppresses his neighbor. Paul said, ‘who is offended and I burn not?'” Continue reading “More Enthusiasm for Sport Than for One’s “Neighbor”?”