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Renegade court strikes again
By Doug Patton
Anyone who paid attention during the 2000 election remembers the U.S. map with the red states and the blue states. The red states comprise the vast geographical area populated by people who live in political and cultural reality, as evidenced by the fact that they voted for George W. Bush, while the blue states make up tiny areas filled with angry liberals living on top of one another. These folks voted for Al Gore.
Those of us who live in America's spacious, sensible, liberty-loving, red states have difficulty understanding the thought process of those who live in the silly, cramped, crime-ridden, blue states. We can't understand their intense desire for a socialist nanny-state that restricts the liberties of us all. We resent their unwarranted statutes, their disrespect for our country's traditions and their extreme court rulings, many of which establish legal precedents that force us to revise our own state laws in ways contrary to our beliefs.
The bluest city in all the blue states is San Francisco, California, home of the most intrusive, out-of-touch federal appeals court in the nation, the Ninth Circuit.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has called the Ninth Circuit a "renegade court," and with good reason. This gang of radicals in black robes – three of whom recently found the words "under God" so repugnant they felt compelled to rule the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional – has been reversed on appeal more often than any court in the country.
The Ninth Circuit has tried to overrule the will of the American people repeatedly, most recently by trying to cancel California's recall election on the flimsy reasoning that the punch card ballots used to re-elect Gov. Gray Davis less than a year ago are now too unreliable to recall him. Based on past experience, this decision is so likely to be overturned on appeal that the candidates in the race have continued their campaigns unabated in anticipation of the October 7 election.
Last week, the gang in black once again jumped to judicial conclusions, this time against the death penalty, in order to fulfill its domestic agenda.
During the summer of 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juries, not judges, must render death sentences. The decision set off a flurry of judicial and legislative activity in Nebraska, where Gov. Mike Johanns was forced to call the state's legislators into special session to address Nebraska's sentencing statutes – which they did by altering the law to conform to the guidelines in the ruling.
But the decision also led to speculation about the sentences of those already on death row around the country. Would this apply only to future cases? Surely, the courts would not simply throw out the sentences of murderers already tried and convicted. In separate cases, the Nebraska Supreme Court and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court case should not be applied retroactively.
Enter the Ninth Circuit radicals. Last week, they overturned the sentences of more than 100 death row inmates in Arizona, Idaho and Montana on the grounds that they were sentenced by a judge rather than a jury.
Currently, there are six men on death row in Nebraska, each sentenced by a judge to die in the electric chair for an exceptionally cold-blooded and heinous murder. The execution of these men is the overwhelming will of the people of this state. The people's representatives in the Legislature agree. The State Supreme Court agrees. Yet, a decision by an appeals court in another jurisdiction could very well undermine the implementation of justice in Nebraska.
Will blue trump red? Or will justice prevail over judicial tyranny? Stay tuned.
Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter
and public policy advisor at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly
columns can be read in newspapers across the country, and on www.GOPUSA.com,
where he serves as the Nebraska Editor. He also writes for Talon News Service
(www.TalonNews.com). Readers can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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