Something strange happened to us in law school.  We started removing people from our thoughts.  We learned detachment, objectivity, and logical rigor.  Character and passion mattered less and less to us.  Syllogisms crowded them out.

The U.S. Supreme Court apparently has regressed.  Today, for example, it started a 5-4 majority opinion in Uttecht v. Brown, No. 06-413 (U.S. June 4, 2007), with this:

Respondent Cal Coburn Brown robbed, raped, tortured, and murdered one woman in Washington.  Two days later, he robbed, raped, tortured, and attempted to murder a second woman in California.  Apprehended, Brown confessed to these crimes and pleaded guilty to the California offenses, for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment.  The State of Washington, however, sought the death penalty and brought Brown to trial.  Based on the jury’s verdicts in the guilt and sentencing phases of the trial, Brown was sentenced to death.  His conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State of Washington.

Any guess at the outcome for Mr. Brown?

This opening resembles the same 5-4 majority’s opinion earlier this year in Gonzales v. Carhart, No. 05-380 (U.S. Apr. 18, 2007).  The majority wrote at length there about an abortion procedure, highlighting details about "killing the fetus", "crush[ing] the fetus’ skull", and "in effect decapitating it." 

Any guess at the outcome for opponents of the procedure?

Blawgletter finds judicial appeals to emotion unsettling.  The law aspires to decide cases through logic.  Stirring up passions seems an odd way to promote public confidence in the system.

Barry Barnett

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