Thursday, April 28, 2005

Abu Graib

To mark the one year anniversary of the CBS report showing those infamous photos, the Opinion Journal and Grayhawk offer wonderful posts. They help to put some perspective on the events.
While I share in the feelings of horror & shame that these acts provoke, I also believe that they should not be used to browbeat the entire military and the Iraq war. Abu Graib is not a reason to retreat on the fight against terror.

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The use of International Law in SCOTUS

In light of the recent rulings by the liberal judges of SCOTUS concerning the uses of foreign laws as guides for American law, the ruling of Edward Small's case, Small vs. United States is very interesting. It turns out the Mr. Smalls was charged & convicted of smuggling guns in 1994 in Japan, but when buying a gun in America, in the federal form that asked if he had any criminal convictions, "convicted in any court" as it was phrased in the form, he said no. His argument was that this applied only to an incident in a domestic court.
Surprisingly SCTOUS agreed with him, the majority opinion saying, according to the NYT that, "To include foreign convictions,.....would raise the possibility of tainting a person who had been caught up in a legal system lacking American standards of fairness. Singapore imprisons people for up to three years for vandalism, the majority noted by way of example." Even more surprising was the fact that the majority included Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Yet, as David Whelan points out in the National Review, Justice Ginsburg recently gave a speech defending the use of foreign law. She tosses out lines like "wise parents do not hesitate to learn from their children" ect. Why the logical inconsistancy? If foreign laws are good enough to be used to guide SCOTUS, why are their convictions not honoured? Is it possible to say the the laws are good but the system is bad, can we cherry pick?
My question is, if foreign laws are good enough for us to cite as precedents in SCOTUS rulings, then why are they not good enough to be held valid in a case like Small vs. United States? Is it because Japan does not have a trial by jury system? If so, in citing international precendents, are the justices limited in which countries they use as reference points? What are these countries? Who decides? In mixing up domestic law with foreign laws, activist judges are treading dangerous ground.

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