Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Justice Scalia - Another Oxymoron

Not only is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – and if that’s not an oxymoron I don’t know what is – intellectually dishonest and a complete lightweight when it comes to understanding jurisprudence, it turns out he cites thoroughly discredited “facts” in opinions he writes and hands down from the bench. In other words, he supports his opinions by lying and just making stuff up.

The most recent example?

In his dissenting opinion in Boumediene v. Bush, where by a one vote difference habeus corpus was preserved in the land, Scalia wrote "At least 30 of those prisoners hitherto released from Guantanamo have returned to the battlefield." It turns out that statement is false.

According to a new report just issued by the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research – aptly titled Justice Scalia, The Dept. of Defence and The Perpetuation of an Urban Legend: The Truth about Recidivism of Released Guantánamo Detainees – only one former Guantanamo detainee, "ISN 220," has been involved in a terrorist act since being set free. Written by Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall Law School, Joshua Denbeaux and R.David Gratz of the law firm Denbeaux & Denbeaux, counsel to two Guantánamo detainees, the article tears Scalia a new one:

The defining characteristic of an “urban legend” is its ability to perpetuate itself not only without factual support but in the face of overwhelming factual evidence that it is false. While it is not surprising to find urban legends in the unmoderated precincts of the internet, it is shocking to discover one in an opinion written by a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Last week, however, Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissent in Boumediene v. Bush, repeated the false accusation that “[a]t least 30 of those prisoners hitherto released from Guantánamo Bay have returned to the battlefield.” His source was a year-old Senate Minority Report, which in turn was based on misinformation provided by the Department of Defense.

Justice Scalia’s reliance on the these sources would have been more justifiable had the urban legend he perpetuated not been permanently interred by later developments, including a 2007 Dept. of Defense press release and hearings before the House Foreign Relations Committee less than two weeks before Justice Scalia’s dissent was released.

Scalia bolstered his hysterical claim that the Boumediene decision "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed" with stale information that was proven to be false one year ago. More pointedly, in a stinging criticism of Scalia’s dissent, Professor Denbeaux said Scalia “was relying uncritically on information that originated with a party in the case before him."

The Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision that the Guantanamo detainees were entitled to file petitions for writ of habeas corpus to challenge their detention. More than 200 men who have been held for up to six years and have never been charged with a crime will now have their day in court. Many were snatched from their homes, picked up off the street or in airports, or sold to the US military by warlords for bounty.

In other words, Justice Scalia relies on urban legends, disproven facts and outright falsehoods instead of thoughtful and reasoned legal arguments in reaching decisions and writing opinions. And here I always thought Clarence Thomas was the biggest idiot on the court.

A Passing Thought About George Carlin ...

Normally I won’t be writing about entertainers or Hollywood-types, mostly because they are incapable of transforming our lives in any positive way. They basically screw around the periphery with “culture,” as if that is enough, and give us nothing in return except to make us all poorer in the long run. Sounds a bit harsh, I know, but bear with me.

When I heard that George Carlin died, all I could think of doing was screaming out the seven words you can never say on television. I feel as if lost a real “bro.” He was much more than a comedian or social commentator or anything else the pundits can think up. In a way, he was more like Will Rogers direct heir. He made all of us look at the “moral” restrictions placed on us by others, religious, political, cultural, etc., for what they truly are: Controlling, restrictive and ridiculous.

He believed whole-heartedly that satire was the best form of dealing with life because it expanded our awareness of both intelligent thought and inter-personal relationship practice. And it created a baseline for the rational examination of our existence as members of the society of man. It was true creative genius coupled with a basic instinct that most people had absolutely no clue as to what they were doing.

And now he is gone.

I’m really going to miss that guy.

Wait. Maybe he's up on the roof. An avid Frisbee player, Carlin said that when you die your soul gets tossed on the roof, never to be retrieved again.