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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

The law and the jungle

Looks like trouble

So this poor chump of a 12-year-old in suburban Chicago brings powdered sugar to school "for a science project." Another kid asks him if it's cocaine, and he says "sure," then adds quickly that he's just kidding. He's arrested anyway, and charged with a felony for "possessing a look-alike drug." Zero tolerance strikes again.

A glorious effort fails

Residents of a New Hampshire town have, unfortunately, refused to kick Justice David Souter out of his house to make way for the Lost Liberty Hotel. But it was a glorious effort to call attention to eminent-domain nonsense:

Special privileges

I've written before (in connection to the journalists' shield law sponsored by Indiana U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar and Rep. Mike Pence) about the reluctance of some to welcome the citizen journalists of the Internet into the press community. Now it's a state issue, too. House Bill 1067, introduced by Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, would close birth and death records, which are open to the public under current state law.

The rule of law

I like hearing life stories, but Judge Alito went on a little long describing his before he finally got around to saying something about his view of the law and judges. I do agree with him that:

A judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case and a judge certainly doesn't have a client.

The backlash continues

You remember Kelo, the now-infamous Supreme Court decisison that made it clear the court was not going to halt the drift toward public-good taking of land as opposed to the public-use taking clearly spelled out in the Constitution (what do you think about that, Judge Alito?) Well, things aren't going too well for the hope of New London officials to kick out some private-property owners and replace them with ones who could provide more tax revenue.

Precedence and deference

As the hearings for Judge Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court get under way, we might have to look somewhere other than in the questioning of the senators to find the careful analysis we need to see what kind of justice he might make. As the Roberts' hearings demostrated, the senators seem mostly interested in having their own star turns (sometimes they go on for 10 or 15 minutes before actually getting to a question) or acting as conduits for the interest groups of the extreme left and right.

Judge not -- not

Judge Edward Cashman is undoubtedly right that "anger doesn't solve anything. It just corrodes your soul." But a judge who no longer believes in punishment has no place on the bench.

Right to view

Republican State Sen. Tom Wyss of Fort Wayne faxed me a copy of legislation he's introducing to put a right-to-view provision into Indiana's death-penalty statute. (It's not available online at the legislative site yet, but when it is, it should be Senate Bill 160). Under current law, relatives of the person being executed can view the execution, but family members of the victims can't.

Your smoke-free castle

And you thought those of us who said the anti-everything crowd would soon be coming into our homes were just being paranoid:

Ministers have told councils, health boards and social work departments that they should compile a "smokers' map" of Scotland, focusing on those who regularly receive visits from officials and carers. This would identify individual households where a smoker is resident.

Obscene absolutists

Though I am a journalist who operates under the umbrella of the First Amendment, might I gently suggest that "free speech" does not trump everything? It is one value that, as important as it is, must compete with other values in a democratic society. Those who always treat it as an absolute risk ignoring dangers that simple common sense should alert them to.