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

Sunday, August 07, 2016

My Personal Brexit: Courthouse Security Checks




The story is now an old one.

In Western societies, there is now a tremendous disconnect between the traditional political and business elites and the citizenry. The populations of the West now find themselves ruled by a transnational elite who see tradition, loyalty, and patriotism as primitive, and whose promoters within academia, nonprofits, government bodies, labour unions, NGOs, and the media teach that nations, citizenship, borders, and law defined by elected parliaments are irksome problems to be overcome.

I cannot say exactly when I saw these symptoms first arise in the United States. But more than a decade ago, I was clerking in a federal courthouse. It was a good gig. I was glad to have it. The public—litigants, lawyers, jurors, witnesses,** and visitors—went through the front entrance with a security check. Court officials and employees (including judicial law clerks) went through a back entrance, also, with a security check. One day, early in my tenure, I was going through the security check, and an older man went around me and bypassed screening. The security officer waved him through. After I went through security, I asked the security officer:

Seth: Who was that guy? Why did you wave him through without going through screening?
Deputy U.S. Marshal: That’s Magistrate Judge ___. We don’t screen judges.
Seth: What?—You don’t screen judges? Why not?
Deputy U.S. Marshal: Of course we don’t screen judges. Get real. Security checks are not here to make the courthouse safe for the public. Security checks are here to keep the judges safe from the public.

I am not a radical egalitarian. I am not suggesting that judges should enter courthouses through the main entrance along with the public. Likewise, if there is a line at the security desk, I am happy to have the judges move past me to front of the queue—a judge’s time is more valuable than that of other courthouse staff. Finally, there is nothing wrong with judges having private bathrooms. If judges used the public restrooms, it could create problems were the judges to be seen in the company of parties to a dispute during active litigation, not to mention the fact that many judges are older people who might be particularly vulnerable in bathrooms. But the default rule ought to be that the same rules which apply to the public also apply to the rulers—and that includes judges. Exceptions to the default rule—such as private bathrooms—have pragmatic justifications behind them.

I cannot think of a good pragmatic reason for allowing judges to escape the security check all others must go through—particularly in light of the recent conviction of a federal judge on gun-related charges. As judges escape the everyday burden the law imposes on others, it becomes too easy for them to impose burdens on others which they do not feel. The current system is a bad result which must teach the public to disrespect the judiciary, as it must teach the judiciary to disrespect the public.

The interesting question is—how many judges have ever protested this inegalitarian and deeply un-American policy?


Seth

**In some criminal actions, defendants and witnesses come into courthouses through the (secure) back entrance. 

Welcome Instapundit readers.




8 comments:

Tim Kowal said...

"The current system is a bad result which must teach the public to disrespect the judiciary, as it must teach the judiciary to disrespect the public."

Seems our problem is oversupply, not scarcity, of public deference to judges. Intoning about separation of powers might prove more or less effective than observing the practices of security queues. Whatever gets the message across.

Anonymous said...

"The populations of the West now find themselves ruled..."

And this is the biggest problem. We are not "ruled" by anyone. The "elites" may think they "rule" us, but they are mistaken. We attempt to elect representatives to help "govern" us. Huge difference. The people are starting to push back on this misrepresentation by those "elites".

jeanne babin said...

The first time I took note of this phenom was over 30 years ago. I lived in California and there had been several physical assaults on teachers in the classroom. (Yes, this was reported as a shockingly big deal back then.) So the legislature rushed through a law adding extra penalties for attacking a teacher. Soon thereafter they tacked on corrections officers. And so on and so on until almost every public employee was protected by stronger statutes than applied to everyone else. I wasn't very political at the time, but I noticed that public "servants" were seemingly being elevated to a privileged class. And then I started reading about their pensions, benefits, pay, non-accountability, early retirement, etc.

It has now metastasized to the point they hold the public in contempt, becoming ever more partisan while taking advantage of every self-enrichment scheme their unions provide them.
It's going to take a very strong president WITH a determined Congress to put them back in their place.

Claude Hopper said...

Several voter referendums have reformed the Oregon public employee retirement system (PERS, full salary until death do us part). But a state supreme court decision always overturns the voters decision. Why? Because the judges are members of PERS. Legalized corruption.

Steve said...

The judges and other political elite are above the law. It starts with no security checks at the courthouse and spreads from there. (No insider trading for congressmen for example). Anyone serfs that obey the law when they don't have too are suckers.

Tom Van Dyke said...

In Western societies, there is now a tremendous disconnect between the traditional political and business elites and the citizenry. The populations of the West now find themselves ruled by a transnational elite who see tradition, loyalty, and patriotism as primitive, and whose promoters within academia, nonprofits, government bodies, labour unions, NGOs, and the media teach that nations, citizenship, borders, and law defined by elected parliaments are irksome problems to be overcome.

Yah, that about covers it. The ivory tower gets higher and higher. And

To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight of the blood.--George Santayana

raven said...

Consider the law that allows current and retired LEO's to carry a concealed weapon anywhere, in any state.

Consider the post office signs prohibiting weapons, at the public entrance-hint-it wasn't the patrons who gave rise to the phrase "going postal".

Consider the California politicians who, I have read, recently passed a bunch of gun control laws while exempting themselves from those laws.

ThepPhotographer David Duncan took a trip in the Soviet Union in the 1960's, IIRC. His book and pictures included a tray of various nail clippers, pen knives, etc, that had been removed from the public who were attending a political conference, with the caption to the effect "unlike the USA, the communists do not trust their own people". Gotta say, that really hit home.

Iand Mystory said...

Birthday Return Gifts for Kids|
Birthday Return Gifts for Kids india
Personalised Gifts For Kids
Personalised Rakhi gifts
Send to india Rakhi gifts