No justice in the Supreme Court - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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No justice in the Supreme Court

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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 1:30 pm

Our political reactionary (back to the 19th century) Supreme Court has recently completed another term dominated by outrageous decisions. In the latest (Brown v. Entertainment Merchants), Justice Antonin Scalia displayed his looking-glass logic in a majority decision nullifying California's law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors.

Scalia defended violent video games because they "communicate ideas - and even social messages" deserving of free-speech protection.

He rejected the argument that violence resembled obscenity, which he agrees lacks free-speech protection. "Disgust" at violence "is not a valid basis for restricting expression."

But what justifies bans on obscenity if not disgust? And does gratuitous, mindless violence "communicate ideas" better than obscenity?

Even Justice Clarence Thomas challenged Scalia's reasoning. Thomas, however, had preserved his reputation as a biased ideologue in an earlier decision, Connick v. Thompson. The sloppily reasoned Brown decision is positively brilliant compared with the Thompson decision. In the latter case, Thomas justified the court's nullification of a $14 million jury award to defendant John Thompson, falsely imprisoned for 18 years because prosecutors destroyed exculpatory evidence proving his innocence. Prosecutors robbed Thompson of 18 years of life, and the Supreme Court robbed him of just restitution.

Here are the undisputed facts, accepted by the court. One month before Thompson's scheduled execution, a private investigator discovered that New Orleans prosecutors had withheld vital exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys. This evidence included police reports, witness statements, including proof that crime-scene blood was not Thompson's.

When he was retried, jurors took only 35 minutes to acquit him. In this inexcusably unjust decision, the five "conservative" justices demonstrated their contempt not only for elementary justice, but for the Constitution itself. In a prior landmark 1963 decision, Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors had to turn over exculpatory evidence to defense attorneys.

Writing for fellow dissenters (Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg demolished Thomas' argument for nullifying Thompson's $14 million liability award. The New Orleans district attorney couldn't be held liable, argued Thomas, because the Brady decision violation was "aberrant," not systematic. Ginsburg cited the voluminous damning evidence at Thompson's retrial as proof of the New Orleans prosecutors' systematic violation of Brady.

That four other justices (Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Kennedy) would agree with Thomas in this travesty testifies to their judicial incompetence as well as their ideological activism.

No other Supreme Court in the past century has had five justices who don't believe in justice.

• C.W. (Bill) Griffin is a retired consulting engineer. He has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for 22 years.

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