Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Osbourne decision

The Supreme Court recently ruled, 5-4, that a person in prison does not necessarily have a constitutional right to potentially expulcatory DNA evidence. The voting broke down along ideological lines, with the conservatives maintaining no constitutional right and the liberals dissenting.

Many liberal blogs are attacking the decision and taking a swipe at conservative jurisprudence in general as always favoring prosecution over defense, corporations over the little guy, etc.

Hate to say it, but it's true. But the solution isn't the one liberals favor: more liberal justices. While liberal judges are excellent on issues of criminal justice, and have established extremely important precedents on search and seizure, legal representation, and the rights of the accused, liberals have a big blind spot: they favor the powerful over the weak when the powerful is the government.

While this decision is troubling, it's not nearly as far-reaching as two cases decided in the last few years: Kelo and Raich:

The Kelo decision allowed state governments to take private land under eminent domain in order to transfer the land to another private party. An extremely broad reading of the "public use" clause. That case was also decided along ideological lines: the liberals plus Anthony Kennedy, the court's swing vote, chose government power over individuals.

The Raich decision stated that the federal government could regulate medical marijuana use, even though the marijuana was not part of interstate commerce and was being grown only for personal use. This decision was handed down 6-3, with Scalia joining the liberal bloc and Kennedy. O'Connor and conservative justices Thomas and Rehnquist dissented. Another case of government being favored over the little guy, courtesy of liberal jurisprudence.

What we need are Alex Kozinski and Randy Barnett on SCOTUS. Glenn Reynolds and Douglas Ginsburg. Justices who will interpret the powers of the government narrowly, and the rights of the people expansively.