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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » "The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws"

   
Author Topic: "The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws"
Dagonee
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The Supreme Court unanimously upheld a system for electing judges in NY that essentially cede control to the parties. Stevens' concurrence contains a proposition that bears repeating:

quote:
Justice John Paul Stevens chimed in with a brief opinion distinguishing between a constitutional system and wise public policy, resorting to the words of former Justice Thurgood Marshall. "The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws," Stevens said, quoting Marshall.

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The Rabbit
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What a pity! Wouldn't the world be a far better place if we simply outlawed stupidity across the board?
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Tammy
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Define stupidity. (Leave my name out of the definition please)
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pooka
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That's awesome. I had no idea Marshall said that.

I did always consider it sadly ironic that Marshall resigned because he despaired that a Democrat would be elected in 1992.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
What a pity! Wouldn't the world be a far better place if we simply outlawed stupidity across the board?

What would you propose the penalty be for being convicted of being stupid?
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Dagonee
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quote:
What would you propose the penalty be for being convicted of being stupid?
Being a contestant on a reality tv show.
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El JT de Spang
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Recidivism.
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Boris
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
What would you propose the penalty be for being convicted of being stupid?
Being a contestant on a reality tv show.
I'm okay with this, as long as the results of being "kicked off the island" were the same as those seen in a certain New Season 1 episode of Doctor Who.
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mr_porteiro_head
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We don't have teleportation beams.
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Dagonee
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I've actually been thinking about how such a constitutional provision would work in practice. I don't think it would be pretty.

For example, you'd have to determine what aspects of a law can be evaluated for "stupidity." Government makes practical tradeoffs all the time. Many times, we forgo a practical result in order to preserve an ideal. For example, we exclude improperly obtained evidence from trials, resulting in less accurate fact-finding, in order to preserve our fourth amendment rights.

There are people who oppose seat-laws not because they think they don't save lives, but because they consider it an inappropriate way for government to save lives. Would repealing mandatory seat-belt laws be seen as stupid by judges?

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pooka
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The only person I ever knew who opposed seat belt laws was a guy who could cite two instances where wearing a seat belt would have killed him when he drove his car into water after drinking too much.

He also gave his baby coca-cola in a baby bottle.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I have opposed seat belt laws, and I can cite an instance where I likely would have died had I not been wearing a seat belt.

I don't even drink coca-cola myself. [Razz]

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Tammy
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
He also gave his baby coca-cola in a baby bottle.

[Mad] That's beyond horrible!
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Jon Boy
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*nods*

I prefer Pepsi myself.

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Tammy
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I live in the south, it's typically Mountain Dew in the bottles around here.
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I have opposed seat belt laws, and I can cite an instance where I likely would have died had I not been wearing a seat belt.

Shvester!
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Dagonee
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So is the Ann Coulter add showing up because the word "stupid" is in the title?

I think the major point underlying my use of the seatbelt example is that premises that are hard to classify as stupid or non-stupid are necessary in deciding whether a particular law should be passed.

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Noemon
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I have opposed seat belt laws, and I can cite an instance where I likely would have died had I not been wearing a seat belt.

I don't even drink coca-cola myself. [Razz]

What, it isn't good enough for you, but it's good enough for your baby?
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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
So is the Ann Coulter add showing up because the word "stupid" is in the title?

I've got the ad too! [ROFL]
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I have opposed seat belt laws, and I can cite an instance where I likely would have died had I not been wearing a seat belt.

Shvester!
[Laugh]
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Liz B
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I just signed up to get her articles by email! [Roll Eyes]
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BlackBlade
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This bothers me, but it hardly changes the fact that the judiciary is largely decided not by jurisprudence, but by who they are chummy with. Senatorial courtesy is a chief example of this.

Scotus seems to be in a humorous mood, this makes me wonder how they will ultimately rule on lethal injection.

"From now on injections will be administered by prison guards throwing darts packed with lethal doses of barbiturates."

For those curious, as for guards wishing to make a game of the spectacle, throwing closest to a major artery wins the match.

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Sergeant
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Senatorial courtesy? Never heard of it. To be honest, I have read few supreme court cases in which there wasn't pretty good reasoning to back up the decision. Of course there is also usually pretty good reasoning in the dissent but I don't think the justices are influenced so much by their acquaintences as by their own personal views.

Sergeant

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Sergeant:
Senatorial courtesy? Never heard of it. To be honest, I have read few supreme court cases in which there wasn't pretty good reasoning to back up the decision. Of course there is also usually pretty good reasoning in the dissent but I don't think the justices are influenced so much by their acquaintences as by their own personal views.

Sergeant

Brush up on it. It was only until about 30-40 years ago that we started requiring even a background in the legal field for judge appointees all the way up to the Supreme Court. It is to be wondered if the lawyer turned judges are better at the job then those with no legal background.

Either way, the founding fathers did not calculate the effects political parties could have on the judiciary. I think they should be kept away from the process as much as possible.

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Sergeant
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Ok, so I've read the wiki on the topic but I don't really see how that factors much into the decisions made by the current Court.

quote:
Senatorial courtesy does not apply in the appointment of Supreme Court justices
So even the article you cite admits that the concept doesn't apply to the appointment of Supreme Court Justices.

Anyway, that is why Justices are apointed to life terms, so regardless of who supported their nomination they can decide as they will without fear of political reprecutions.

Sergeant

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Anyway, that is why Justices are apointed to life terms, so regardless of who supported their nomination they can decide as they will without fear of political reprecutions.
But in order to get selected to the higher courts they have to have some sort of connection to specific senators. Should they get high enough to even be considered for the Supreme Court they then need know the right senators and probably the president, in order to get their nomination approved.

Why should the senior New Jersey senator be in charge of all federal judge vacancies in New Jersey? What does a senator know about which jurists should be promoted? I just feel it marries the federal court system too closely to the senate.

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