Friday, March 03, 2006

Just Odd and Odd Justice

Like you, I'm sure you've encountered in the news and your communities some of the real horrors related to the rising human toll of meth addiction - folks make this toxic crap in cars, homes, wherever they can. Now, the war on meth is part of the Patriot Act.

A member of the Tennessee task force combating meth informed me a few years ago that the life span of someone who gets addicted to this home-made poison is five years. So the state legislature took action, and made a law requiring over-the-counter cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine be sold only after the buyer shows ID and signs for it. Other states have done the same.

But now that same language (inserted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of CA) is part of the newly passed federal Patriot Act, you know, that collection of laws created to combat "terrorism." If states were already addressing the issue, why add it to this most questionable "Act"? Was it just to help push the bill through? Don't want a potential candidate to point a finger and say "He/She voted against laws to protect your towns from meth addicts"?

Another oddity is emerging in Alabama's legal system (and God bless you if you live in Bama, and hope you can find another home soon). Alabama's newest Supreme Court Justice, Tom Parker, has declared his own profession a hotbed of radical activists (via Law.com) , that is, everyone but him. He's opposed to a guideline that the death penalty should be withheld for those whose crimes were committed while under the age of 18. Heinous crimes could obviously be committed by someone aged 17 or 16 or even 10. Why not just make the death penalty apply to every person of every age, from the moment of birth on?

Justice Parker penned an op-ed piece, writing:

"
State supreme court judges should not follow obviously wrong decisions simply because they are precedents," he wrote. "After all, a judge takes an oath to support the Constitution -- not to automatically follow activist judges who believe their own devolving standards of decency trump the text of the Constitution."

Justice Parker seems to be decrying "judicial activists" and calling for that same activisim if it suits his temperament. He earned his law degree at Vanderbilt (a school he says he disliked), and claims professors never presented the Constitution in classes at Vandy, though he did continue his legal studies in Brazil.

He's a fascinating and outspoken member of the bench - much more of his career can be read here.

2 comments:

  1. Tom Parker is closely linked to neo-Confederate groups who seek to undo the last 40-50 years of civil rights progress. The Southern Poverty Law Center has published information about these connections.

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  2. That's correct Mr Public. The article I link to in this post quotes Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center talking about Parker's campaign to gain the seat on the Supreme Court:

    "During the campaign, Parker handed out Confederate flags, made appearances with pro-Confederate groups, and attended a birthday party for the late Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the original Ku Klux Klan.

    "These appearances put Tom Parker way outside the mainstream in Alabama," says the center's Mark Potok.

    Parker shrugs off the criticism and says with a laugh that the controversy over his appearances "helped me reach voters I never could have reached" without the publicity. He says that from his reading of history, Forrest withdrew from the Klan when it became violent. "

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