"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elitism, Judicial Activism---You Name It

Basically, the charges of Barack Obama's "elitism" stem from a perception that he believes he knows better than you, and that your disagreement comes from irrationality.

By a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court just upheld lethal injection as constitutional. Justice John Paul Stevens dissented. Why? “I have relied on my own experience in reaching the conclusion that the imposition of the death penalty [is unconstitutional]."

Oh.

But Antonin Scalia rides to the rescue, and comes down on Justice Stevens bigtime. Justin Levine over at Patterico kindly types out this gem from the PDF of Scalia's opinion:


As JUSTICE STEVENS explains, ‘objective evidence, though of great importance, [does] not wholly determine the controversy, for the Constitution contemplates that in the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment.’


Purer expression cannot be found of the principle of rule by judicial fiat. In the face of JUSTICE STEVENS’ experience, the experience of all others is, it appears, of little consequence. The experience of the state legislatures and the Congress—--who retain the death penalty as a form of punishment—--is dismissed as “the product of habit and inattention rather than an acceptable deliberative process.”

The experience fellow citizens who support the death penalty is described, with only the most thinly veiled condemnation, as stemming from a “thirst for vengeance.” It is JUSTICE STEVENS’ experience that reigns over all.



And that's elitism in a nutshell. Principled disagreement with the "Elect" is impossible; it's stupidity or irrationality or bitterness or just being downright lazy. Opposing views don't even rise to the level of being wrong---they're simply not valid.

Such arrogance rubs some people the wrong way, like me, tens of millions of other Americans, and the great Nino Scalia.

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5 comments:

Jay D. Homnick said...

Tom, thank you for this. Quite amazing!

Michael Simpson said...

Well, that's essentially why Europe has outlawed the death penalty - if they were as "democratic" as we are, they'd still have it...

I don't mind a certain sort of elitism. I often ask my classes why people who helped make Britney Spears so rich ought to be allowed to vote - if they're that stupid, that lacking in judgment, why should they have the same political power (in some sense) as I do?

The problem with Stevens' (and, I guess, by extension Obama's) "elitism" is that it admits of no reasonable disagreement. Even Obama's apparent generosity towards those with whom he disagrees - unlike many pro-abort folks, he doesn't demonize pro-lifers - seems more rhetorical than substantive.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Interesting thought on elitism, Mr. Simpson. However, I have found that those who been educated by our modern university system, or those who prefer, say, Wagner to Spears, have no surer moral compasses.

Akaky said...

Someone ought to give Nino a medal.

Nidsu said...

That is an amazing post. It is nice to see someone outline the fact that the all knowing Justices weren't supposed to be granted the ability to remove the voters and legislators from the picture.

Great work Nino.