Thursday, April 24, 2008

There is no getting over it

Justice Scalia says to 60 Minutes about Bush v. Gore, "Get over it."
 
It irks me so, so bad.  I don't care that it's Bush v. Gore that we're talking about.  The fact that a Supreme Court justice would hand down a decree of constitutional law and then, in response to public scrutiny, dismiss it with the wave of a hand... ugh. 
 
I know that judges are in an unenviable role.  Local judges have to worry about making decisions (to release or not to release?  bail or no bail?  suppress or not to suppress?) that look bad to the public and make great tabloid-like headlines in the newspaper, even if these judges are making decisions that are legally reasonable.  But that's part of being a judge.  Being a judge means making tough decisions.  That's what a judge does.  Our system is an adversarial one, so two parties take opposing positions and the judge rules.  Now, some of the judges I work with prefer not to make decisions, and that type of judge is the one for whom I have the least respect of all.  WE ARE NOT HERE TO AGREE WITH EACH OTHER.  I hate judges who want everyone to just talk it out.  Well, I think the cop's a fucking liar.  You may be surprised to learn that the prosecutor disagrees.  So, no consensus.  Now your turn judge.  Oh, don't want to weigh in?  Don't want to have to decide who wins this round?  Thanks, judge, my barista at Starbucks makes harder decisions in a day than you do.
 
I have several cases that haunt me, cases that I know I was legally in the right, cases in which my clients lives were devastated.  And when I get up there to yell about how unfair it all is, the judges have the response equivalent to Justice Scalia's - Get over it.  So here's my response, here in this empty little tin can of the internet I'm shouting into - NO I WILL NOT GET OVER IT.  You know what?  You made the decision.  You made a bad decision.  You made a decision that ruined innocent people's lives.  YOU DEAL WITH IT.  Don't tell me to shut up to make the problem go away.  Because I'm going to come back every day on every future case and remember what you did.  And you are going to try to make my life miserable because I can't let you forget that I think you fucked up.  I'm not going to get over it, never ever.  And neither will these people whose lives have been ruined.  You made the decision.  The responsibility of the decision lies with you.
 
I know it's hard sometimes to make the legally correct decision.  But if what you're doing is truly following the law, it shouldn't be so hard to take responsibility for that, right? 
 
Justice Scalia's "get over it" response to a decision he made, interpreting constitutional principles, just infuriates me.  Every decision the Supreme Court makes is a big one.  His job is to clarify the most essential rights of our existence.  To try to evade or dismiss as trivial the impact or response to those decisions is not only patronizing but appalling.  This is your job.  If you cannot accept the responsibility of your professional actions, then you don't belong there.
 
There are cases that haunt me, and I will not get over it.  And maybe, judge, you shouldn't "get over it" either.

1 comment:

S said...

Amen!