Self Promotion

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Your humble Agitator is quoted on the front page of the New York Times this morning.

I’ll have more on the general premise of the article later. But I’ll just say in the meantime that it’s awfully odd to hear Ed Meese, of all people, saying things like, “[Conservatives’] tradition has always been to construe criminal laws narrowly to protect people from the power of the state.”

This after all, is a man who as attorney general was once asked why he doesn’t support Miranda warnings and allowing a suspect to have access to a lawyer before he’s questioned by police. Meese’s answer:

“…you don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That’s contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.”

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22 Responses to “Self Promotion”

  1. #1 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    What does Meese think about the progress in the war with Eastasia?

  2. #2 |  IrishMike | 

    Stormy – thanks for the morning laugh. But we’re not at war with Eastasia and never were. We’ve always been at war with the other continent whose name escapes me right now.

    So Scalia is a friend of the people on this issue? How does that jibe with his “new professionalism” shtick?

  3. #3 |  OGRE | 

    Congrats, RB, on making the front page of the Grey Lady.

  4. #4 |  Peter | 

    IrishMike, you are quite right! We have always been at war with Eurasia, and allied with Eastasia.

    I am sure Meese is quite pleased to be giving the telescreen report on how free we are in Airstrip One.

  5. #5 |  Tokin42 | 

    I don’t care why people like meese have seen the light, just that they’ve finally seen it. There may be hope for Scalia yet.

  6. #6 |  SJE | 

    I think Meese does not understand the meaning of the word “suspect”

  7. #7 |  Tokin42 | 


    “Scalia and Thomas are vanguards of an understanding by the modern right that its distrust of government extends all the way to the criminal justice system,” said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University.

    I think that’s a bit of wishful thinking. I think he’s absolutely correct about thomas (i’ve mentioned before he’s my personal fav justice) not so much about scalia. Scalia still has the idea in his head that the feds have nothing but good intent in their hearts.

  8. #8 |  B | 

    Giving Mr. Meese the benefit of the doubt, it’s just another annoying example of how politicians (generally conservatives) tend to “see the light” when they aren’t in office anymore to do anything about it.

    See also: Barr, Bob, etc.

  9. #9 |  MassHole | 

    According to Wikipedia, Meese is an Adjunct Fellow at the Discovery Institute which is the main peddler of “Intelligent Design”.

  10. #10 |  John Jenkins | 

    The Rule of Lenity is conservative, in the sense that it is a quite old and long-followed rule of construction for criminal statutes. Nonetheless, I think that your inserted [conservatives’] is not what Meese meant. When he used “Our” in that sentence, I think he was referring to American jurisprudence rather than conservatives. It makes more sense that way.

    I don’t support Miranda warnings either, but that’s because Miranda is the biggest exercise in judicial bullshitting in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court (and that’s saying something). They made up a Fifth Amendment right to counsel to avoid trying to fix the disastrous clusterfuck the Court created in delineating the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and doing their best to ignore the real inquiry under the Fifth Amendment: whether the suspect had been coerced.

  11. #11 |  Cornellian | 

    Well since you don’t need counsel if you’ve never been suspected of anything and getting counsel after you’re convicted won’t do you any good, exactly when does Mr. Meese think the Sixth Amendment’s right “to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence” ever apply?

    (and yes, it’s spelled “defence” since the Constitution was written before Webster ruined American spelling)

  12. #12 |  John Jenkins | 

    @Cornellian: Good question. Why do you think Miranda gives effect to the Sixth Amendment? The Sixth Amendment right is different. See Massiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201 (1964).

    Miranda is a (misguided) attempt to fix that error through the Fifth Amendment. In fact, I don’t believe that the Sixth Amendment is referred to at all in the majority opinion in Miranda, but I would have to go back and read it again to be sure (I know the dissent refers to the Sixth Amendment). See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

  13. #13 |  William Anderson | 

    My favorite part (as Radley already knows) is the interview with Frank O. Bowman at the end, a former federal prosecutor now masquerading as a law professor. He claims that federal law is a “counter” force to corporate power.

    Funny, I don’t recall seeing any definition of law in that way before. No wonder federal prosecutors make a career of lying.

  14. #14 |  la Rana | 

    Before today, few on the planet would come before Meese on the list of those least interested in protecting people from the power of the state.

  15. #15 |  Marty | 

    I remember being in high school and someone (abby hoffman?) was ranting about meese and how ‘he crawled out from under a rock in oakland’ and he was ‘so twisted he had to screw his pants on in the morning’. he was one of my first exposures to drug war nonsense.

  16. #16 |  JA3 | 

    For Meese and probably Scalia as well, this is all a matter of “in power” vs. “Out of power.” If Meese is working for the Discovery Institute and saying things like this while Dems have the White House and Congress, he’s just setting himself up to score a 10/10 in Radley’s “Hackwatch” if the tables turn in 2013.

  17. #17 |  TDR | 

    You made a really good point in the article, Radley. The rest of the article was spent trying to lump libertarians with various numb-nut conservatives. At least you pointed out that these “conservatives” are coming to where we’ve always been (assuming that that is factually true).

  18. #18 |  Chance | 

    “A joint on a yacht, and the whole thing is forfeited,”

    Oh, so when it’s happening to Joe Shmoe on the street, no biggie – when it’s on a yacht it gets their attention. Glad that’s clear.

  19. #19 |  B | 

    Chance–yeah I noticed that, too.

    More yacht forfeitures! More pretty rich white girls prosecuted! It’s the price of freedom, people!

  20. #20 |  Kino | 

    “If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.”

    oh really ….WTF??????

  21. #21 |  supercat | 

    //Miranda is a (misguided) attempt to fix that error through the Fifth Amendment.//

    IMHO, Miranda is a narrow application of a principle that needs to be applied more widely: a person shall not be deemed to have waived his rights except through voluntary action. Actions resulting from ignorance, government deception, or perceived government intimidation, shall not be presumed to be voluntary. If juries were invited to examine whether apparent waivers were really voluntary, and were instructed to discount evidence obtained in violation of rights that were not voluntarily waived, I suspect the relationship between the government and the citizenry would be greatly improved.

  22. #22 |  John Jenkins | 

    @supercat: I don’t want to get into your odd jurisprudential theories again, but Miranda is not an application of your principle and it does not appear that you have read and understood Miranda and the cases following Miranda that tried to wrestle with the issues Miranda raised. You don’t care to deal with the issues yourself (principally among them, where does the term counsel appear in the Fifth Amendment?), and instead come along with a truly grand pronouncement of a bedrock principle.

    But let’s take a hypothetical. Under your principle, if someone committed a murder, then went to a bar where an undercover police officer happened to be sitting, and that person admitted committing the murder, then the confession would be inadmissible for “ignorance.”

    If you think that should be the right result, I would like to hear why. If you think that should be the wrong result, then how would you square it with your principle?

    As an aside, you don’t seem to be a lawyer, but you have adopted the worst conventions of lawyerly drafting. No one uses shall anymore, and even fewer understand the distinction between shall and will (the short version: only use shall when imposing an obligation on the second person subject of the sentence, otherwise you create ambiguity).

    Finally, your base supposition is simply wrong. I have sat in courtrooms and helped pick and watched juries. They are the most unfriendly people in the courtroom to the defendant most of the time. I can guarantee you that if we had the system you want, where jurors determined admissibility and relevance of evidence, the acquittal rate would go down to almost zero. District attorneys would stop making deals because they would know they virtually could not lose at trial. It is hard to get judges to disallow evidence, but judges will exclude evidence if you can show them why it should be legally excluded.

    Trying to do that with the jury invariably taints the jury (you cannot un-hear evidence on which you are ruling), and I assure you that the jury will exclude almost no evidence. They get mad now when they find out later that evidence was excluded, saying that if only they had know that, the verdict would have been different (usually guilty).

    There are sound reason why the finder of fact and the finder of law are not the same, and unless your theory accounts for those reasons, you’re just blowing smoke.