One of the questions I used to get was what it felt like to defend people I, like, knew were guilty. The flip answer: a lot easier than defending people I knew were innocent. With all that’s going on these days — NSA all up in your emails, politicians clambering all over themselves to shut down access to the vote and reproductive health clinics, the power to extend or deny “marriage” status ultimately in the hands of 9 justices — it’s easy to see that the power of the government is broad, real and, sometimes, inexpertly or abusively wielded. God help you if you find yourself in need of the 4th, 5th, 6th or 8th Amendments.
And it’s this general feeling — a healthy mistrust that the people with power have my best interests at heart, and a sense of relief that the Bill of Rights applies to all of us, not just those who can prove we’re blameless — that makes me suspicious of cases that come down on the side of the government over the side of the people. So, in this week’s random rant: why SCOTUS was wrong on Salinas v. Texas.
Last week I added in my two cents on the Windsor majority. A brief summary: I thought it was weak. Silver lining: the dissents are even worse.
Roberts starts the charge, with a quick solo dissent admonishing future courts not to build from this holding – as if he could single-handedly erase a centuries-long tradition of granting cases precedential value. His argument is that this case only erases DOMA for those same-sex couples married in their state of residence, and that nothing about it should be construed to deny states the power to continue to exclude same-sex couples from getting married. We’ll see, Roberts, we’ll see.
I’ve met you before. Kind of. I’ve defended morally culpable, legally defensible clients. Long before my heart broke because you killed Mr. Martin, I’d seen dudes like you and been amazed. Prejudice — against women, against blacks, against anyone who is acting with more agency than those in power want to afford them — causes people in positions of power to do some really fucked up shit. Fear — of punishment, of the veil being lifted, of not liking what they see in the mirror — causes them to cling to their initial prejudices, twisting them like a toddler tugs a security blanket, until they’re convinced that their prejudices are necessary and they’re worn like armor against the perceived injustice of a potential victim not acting like a victim. Wielded like a weapon against a woman saying what she wants. Or against a black teenager walking, talking and carrying candy in a nice neighborhood. Like he belonged. Like he had that right.
I finally made it through the Windsor decision, and am happy to share my two cents. I’m going to break it into two parts, though, because this got freaking long. Up first: the majority!
There are a lot of things about the Windsor decision that make me laugh in elation. That the love story between Edie and her wife, Thea, is enshrined in our constitutional jurisprudence. That they were so successful that Thea’s estate created such a huge tax assessment. That coming generations may know the phrase “tying a Windsor knot” as a double-entendre. And that DOMA’s Sec 3 was struck down. But I’m left with a lot of the same conflicted feelings that Hollingsworth gave me – most importantly that, while I agree with the outcome, I’m concerned that the majority’s arguments aren’t that strong.
For my birthday, Mike got us weekend tickets to Rock-A-Field, which took place recently. It was a decidedly Luxembourgish take on a hedonistic music festival – ambitious, tiny, crowded, polyglot. We’d tossed around the idea of camping out but decided against it when Amazon sent Mike on an unexpected business trip the week before. It was an easy decision – leave early enough to catch public transport back to our own bed – but also kinda momentous.
We could be getting too old for this.
True story: when I was a toddler, my dad asked my pediatrician if I was mentally handicapped. His concern? I didn’t talk much. Family lore goes that the pediatrician assured my dad that I was still working through what I wanted to say.
I bring that up in an attempt to explain why it’s been so long since I was posting on a regular basis. I took a hiatus to work through if, and how, I wanted to still use this site. I’m too far removed from being a public defender to feel like I need to vent, and – happily! – mortifying ex-pat moments are fewer and further between. So I’m introducing a new twist on old favorites: this is gonna be one of those combo travel + US legal issues blogs. Never heard of such a thing? Welcome to the cutting edge of the interwebs, yo.
Projects get my attention in fits and starts. This blog is one of those projects; this post is one of those fits. Or starts. Whateves.
A lot has happened since I last posted here; the most significant accomplishment being me getting my head screwed on right about not working. An aspect of that is accepting that this blog will serve me best not as a record of what I went through as a PD, but as a place to vent about issues I care about Stateside and share some ridiculous experiences. While I piece together the whiplash I felt reading recent SCOTUS decisions for a post next week, please enjoy a story of an adventure in Morocco. Continue reading