Legal Elites Chip Away at Protections Against Violent Crime

On Monday, the Supreme Court, citing “international opinion,” outlawed life imprisonment without parole for juveniles who commit rape, torture, and other non-homicide crimes.

Earlier, New Zealand was pressured to end life without parole for adults who commit “the worst” murders, based on a supposed rule of “customary international law” against life imprisonment without parole.

Citing Spanish law and supposed international human-rights norms, Spain now refuses to extradite terrorists who plot mass murder to the United States unless the U.S. agrees not to seek life imprisonment without parole.

Victims of torture, sexual mutilation, and attempted murder cannot have peace of mind unless their attacker is kept in jail for life without parole.  A scary example is “Milagro Cunningham, a 17-year-old who beat and raped an 8-year-old girl before leaving her to die under 197 pounds of rock.”  This evil, violent thug will apparently be eligible to seek release under the Supreme Court’s decision Monday in Graham v. Florida.  Why should that little girl, scarred for life, have to face the terrifying possibility of one day being attacked again by her would-be murderer?

The Supreme Court’s ruling sets a terrible precedent for civil liberties as well, since foreign legal systems and international lawyers are often hostile to free speech, religious freedom, and the right of homeowners to defend themselves against burglars and other intruders who may commit violence by wielding a knife or gun in self-defense.  The U.N. Human Rights Council says there is no human right to self-defense, and that, quite the contrary, international human rights norms require “very severe gun control.”

Accordingly, CEI and the Cato Institute joined an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court asking it not to rely on international norms in deciding the Graham case.

If America got rid of the death penalty tomorrow, the army of lawyers who today relentlessly delay and block executions would simply turn around and fight life without parole for violent criminals (liberal judges like Ninth Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson have argued that life without parole is unconstitutional even for serious adult crimes).  Opposing strict penalties for criminals sets liberal lawyers and judges apart from ordinary people who believe in “vengeance,” and thus helps them feel morally superior and holier-than-thou.  It makes them feel sophisticated and refined to argue that society should forgive violent criminals who have supposedly “rehabilitated” themselves by claiming to be sorry for their victims (even though many “model inmates” have gone on to commit horrible crimes after being released on parole–seldom against wealthy lawyers).   Many of those lawyers were trained at my alma mater, Harvard Law School, where moral vanity can be found in abundance.

These sanctimonious lawyers and judges have forgotten the wisdom of the great Athenian lawgiver Solon, who observed that true justice will not be achieved until those who have not been victimized by crime are just as indignant as those who were victimized.  As Midrash sagely notes, “He who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind.”

(Unlike what you may have gleaned from watching “L.A. Law,” when a death sentence is overturned by the courts, it is very seldom because of the convict’s alleged innocence; the reason is usually something like a failure to consider some obscure supposedly mitigating factor, or the fact that the defendant was sentenced to death by a judge rather than a jury.  Most innocent people in jail are there for drug, sexcrime, or regulatory offenses, not capital crimes that carry the death penalty.)

The Obama administration is busy packing the courts with people who will block the death penalty and strict sentences for violent crime at every turn, like the radical law professor Goodwin Liu, and a judge who tried to block the execution of the Roadside Strangler based on the unbelievable ground that his “sexual sadism” was a mitigating factor–even though the Roadside Strangler admitted his execution was appropriate.  Whether or not the death penalty is good public policy (admittedly, death is different because it is irrevocable), it is obviously not unconstitutional, and should not be judicially nullified, since it is expressly contemplated in the Constitution, such as in the language of the Fifth Amendment.