“Caylee’s Law” Is a Bad Idea

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I have a new piece up at Huffington Post explaining why.

We really need to stop naming laws after dead kids.

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43 Responses to ““Caylee’s Law” Is a Bad Idea”

  1. #1 |  Fascist Nation | 

    It is a horrible, terrible, evil idea. But what else do we get from government? Just another of an endless series of laws that allows prosecutor discretion to charge brown people and poor white trash with.

  2. #2 |  Jerry | 

    I agree, once you mention the kids, all common sense goes out the window.

  3. #3 |  NMissC (Tom Freeland) | 

    There’s an old lawyer saying that “Hard cases make bad law”– that cases that push the system to one edge or another and thus invite courts or legislatures to bend or change the rules create bad new rules.

    This would be one of those situations, and the sad fact is that the rules worked on this one. Here we have a perfect example drawing the line between proof beyond a reasonable doubt and proof that leaves one thinking “I’m pretty sure she did it even if they didn’t prove how/when or that she had some connection to killing the child.”

    Unfortunately, it’s also an instance when cameras in the courtroom magnified the circus; if I were trying to build an argument against cameras at court (and I’m not), this would be Exhibit A.

  4. #4 |  Zeb | 

    “We really need to stop naming laws after dead kids.”

    This. It is generally safe to assume than any law named for a kid whom something bad happened to is a bad idea.

  5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

    First thing you should ask youself is will Caylee’s Law keep kids from getting murdered?

    …probably not.

  6. #6 |  JS | 

    Yea this is not “for the kids” it’s for the Nancy Grace’s.

  7. #7 |  Highway | 

    So many of the comments about this case are like “But it’s so obvious that 31 days is too long!” But those folks don’t have any idea what the ‘right’ number of days is.

    As Radley mentions: It’s all about vengeance. People are upset that somebody ‘got away’ with something. So they want to make some other rule that they’d definitely ‘catch’ someone with. It’s the way it always works.

  8. #8 |  Andrew S. | 

    Uh oh Radley, you’ve angered them again. After all, this law is “For the Children” ™. No law that’s “For the Children” ™ can be a bad thing, can it? Why do you hate children, Radley?

  9. #9 |  CyniCAl | 

    I have an idea. Why not continue the trend of naming laws after children, dead or otherwise, but make them repeals rather than new laws. Maybe in about 100 years or so we’d be down to the correct number of laws: 2.

  10. #10 |  Mario | 


  11. #11 |  EH | 

    Yeah, the better name for this is the “Nancy Grace anti-humiliation Law.” Screw the children, think of the newspinion hosts.

  12. #12 |  Curt | 

    Wow… from reading the comments to your article, it seems you’ve definitely made it onto HuffPo’s readers’ shitlist.

    How dare you stand up to this law? Obviously you want more children to be murdered!

    The tone of the comments is basically that, if the laws of the land allowed Casey Anthony to go free, then the laws are screwed up and must be changed.

    First on the list… eliminate the whole “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” concept anytime a cute little girl is involved.

  13. #13 |  Andrew S. | 

    If Casey and Caylee Anthony were black, not one of the people screaming about the verdict/promoting this law would be saying anything. Mostly because Nancy Grace never would’ve picked up on it, and the verdict would’ve been on the second page of the local news in the Orlando Sentinel.

    I’m perfectly willing to suspend the 1st Amendment long enough to call for Nancy Grace’s execution. I’ll let the accused Duke Lacrosse players act as the firing squad. Maybe Melinda Duckett’s family can help out as well.

  14. #14 |  abhisaha | 

    Great piece.

    I am a bit disappointed (but not surprised) that this piece is nowhere to be found on Huff-Post’s supersized front page. I guess only posts with some high shock or outrage value (like your post on the Jose Guerena shooting), or dumb partisan sloguneering make it there.

  15. #15 |  Andrew S. | 

    oooh, Radley. I think I just saw my favorite HuffPo reponse ever.

    Mr. Balko is a typical liberal comfort, consol, and defend criminals and the mentally dysfunctio nal at the sacrifice of untold numbers of children and women. In the eyes of dysfunctio nal liberals like Mr. Balko it is better to allow untold numbers of children and women to be sexually assaulted or killed than to question the actions of one person. Child molesters, child abusers and rapists love liberals. You see the problem with liberals is they view the world through a mirror and everything they support or oppose is rated on how it will or may affect them personally . :)

  16. #16 |  Fred Mangels | 

    Andrew wrote, “I think I just saw my favorite HuffPo reponse ever.”.

    In the eyes of dysfunctio­nal liberals like Mr. Balko it is better to allow untold numbers of children and women to be sexually assaulted or killed than to question the actions of one person..

    I know. It almost seems like the guy didn’t read Radley’s commentary.

  17. #17 |  Wesley | 

    Miles King, in the comments:

    “I’m tired of op-ed pseudo-int­ellectuals who jut their noses in the air to chastise the strong backlash against the Anthony jury’s verdict. They inevitably use the word “mob” to clump together people who legitimate­ly express their discontent with the jury’s findings with those illegitima­tely phoning in death threats. Juries aren’t infallible (see the “CSI effect”) and neither is the American justice system (in the event that you’ve been living under an especially secluded and solipsisti­c rock). If part of the Sixth Amendment stipulates that the public must agree with a jury, then that’s news to me. Stop wagging your finger, pick up a pen and a note-pad, and go do some real journalism­. “

    Wow. I had trouble making a serious, polite response to that. Such an outburst just shows how emotionally-charged the public reaction was, with little in the way of rational thought.

  18. #18 |  Charlie O | 

    I hate children and am damn proud of it.

  19. #19 |  Legate Damar | 

    We really need to stop naming laws after dead kids.

    Or, the pro-liberty community could just play smarter rather than harder and just start naming their own bills after dead children.

    Best case is that it starts winning us some votes in the various legislatures of the country. Worst case is that is desensitizes the public to all of the other ill-conceived proposed legislation bearing similar monikers. And if the bill were to reign in the overuse of SWAT teams, we would be 100% justified

    PS- where did the preview function go?

  20. #20 |  CTD | 

    Has the first “Koch-funded libertarian wants child-murderers to go free” comment appeared yet?


  21. #21 |  Big A | 

    #15. Heh, just came over to post that one. That mirror comment is a little disturbing- is he calling Radley a child murderer? And ‘sacrifice of children and women’? Who’s talking about women here? I think the most logical third category of victims who can’t protect themselves is puppies. This commenter is obviously not aware of Radley’s extensive puppy-related work.

  22. #22 |  HD | 

    Or, the tl;dr version, which invokes an well-worn legal maxim:

    “Hard cases make bad law.”

  23. #23 |  Mannie | 

    #18 | Charlie O | July 11th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I hate children and am damn proud of it.

    You’re not seasoning them right.

  24. #24 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Here’s my favorite HuffPo comment:

    “This article does raise some good points but Radley, you do know how our legislativ­e system works…ri­ght? This is step one out of several. The descriptio­n of what the potential law will be is not a formal bill. When it is submitted it will be edited and revised and edited and revised and edited some more. As much as Congress argues, I am confident in their ability to make this petition into a reasonable law” (emphasis added).

    I honestly have so many snarky comebacks popping up in my head at once that I can’t pick one to respond with.

  25. #25 |  MacGregory | 

    I am the same guy who actually believed that SCOTUS would rule that DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional. Now, there is no doubt in my mind that some version of this reactionary, POS legislation will pass somewhere, somehow.

  26. #26 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    I don’t recall exactly when the “naming laws after dead kids” thing started, but I do recall that I though it infantile at the time (though I was probably quite young myself). Beyond all the other reasons for hating such laws (which Radley and others have eloquently enumerated), they make us sound like a nation of kindergarteners where everyone can be identified by a first name alone. Though I’m generally against more laws, maybe we need a law to prevent naming laws after people who didn’t write or sponsor them.

    And don’t get me started on the Microsoft-driven tendency for half of all software to be called “My Something-or-Other”, evoking memories of constructions like “My School Box” or “My Childhood Memories” on a photo album. Gag.

  27. #27 |  Highway | 

    I actually told someone in a discussion of this law that I would bet the first person charged under it would be a parent whose child died after putting them to bed, and they didn’t discover it until the morning. The person responded with “No, I can’t believe a prosecutor would do something like that.” Somehow, I don’t think anyone here would doubt that a prosecutor would do exactly that.

  28. #28 |  MacGregory | 

    #27 Highway
    I’ve had similar discussions and responses from friends on FB. “Don’t be silly. A DA would never do such thing.” I am very quick to point to all the “zero tolerance” stories of school kids getting charged with dumb shit. Rulz is rulz.

  29. #29 |  SusanK | 

    Why is everyone so content on relying on prosecutors to “not file the charge”? Do people not realize that police issue tickets and take people to jail? Do people really want to wait in jail while a prosecutor decides to not file charges?

  30. #30 |  JS | 

    Highway “The person responded with “No, I can’t believe a prosecutor would do something like that.””

    Which is tantamount to saying “No, I don’t beleive the government would ever abuse their power.”

  31. #31 |  Zeb | 

    Passing an overly broad law and expecting prosecutors to use discretion is suck crap. If any possible application of a law is unjust, the the whole law is unjust, period.

  32. #32 |  Zeb | 

    I’m glad you have a good job, and I suppose it is a good thing that you are getting wider exposure, but goddamn, HuffPo makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

  33. #33 |  Mary | 

    Radley, not that I’m a supporter of Ben Shapiro at all, but my take on his column was not for abolishing the jury system, but a “revamping” of it. Big difference, and one I completely agree with. It’s a mess.

    That said, Shapiro is still an assclown.

  34. #34 |  Kristen | 

    These types of laws make me very, very happy I never had kids. If you have young children these days, you’re risking your life & liberty in a big way. It’s just way too risky.

  35. #35 |  Andrew S. | 

    There’s a bunch of people in the comments who are talking about Congress and this being a federal law. Commerce Clause?

  36. #36 |  JS | 

    I totally agree Kristen! If I ever decide to become a dad I’m going to go move to another country before they’re born.

  37. #37 |  Matt | 

    @Andrew S

    There’s a bunch of people in the comments who are talking about Congress and this being a federal law. Commerce Clause?

    I shall use Liberal Logic®™* to tie this bill to the commerce clause.

    1. Kids grow up into adults
    2. Adults usually have jobs and money to buy things
    3. The now-adult kid will buy things with money earned from said job that were produced out of state

    When you come up with commerce clause excuses, I like to use the “Filburn Test”. Just think: is the excuse dumber then the reasoning expressed in “Wicker v Filburn”? If not, it will pass a court test. As I actually can’t imagine anything dumber then the logic expressed in “Wickard v Filburn”, everything goes.

  38. #38 |  MountainTiger | 

    37: I can beat that.
    1. Kids require food, clothing, shelter, etc.
    2. Those things require commerce.
    3. Commerce Clause!

  39. #39 |  CyniCAl | 

    That was the best satire I’ve read in months Matt. Thank you.

  40. #40 |  abhisaha | 

    I think Radley’s article got a much more favorable response on Huffington Post than might appear at first. If you click on the favourites (hearts) tab to order the comments by number of likes, you’ll notice that the most popular comments are all supportive of Radley’s position.

  41. #41 |  Kevin Carson | 

    I think we should start naming laws after people we wish were dead. First up: Nancy Grace’s Law.

    I agree with Jennifer Abel: I don’t care whether she did it or not. If she causes Nancy the Crooked Prosecutor to have an aneurism*, I’ll send her twenty bucks.

    *Preferably the kind of explosive aneurism that causes red jelly to squirt out her eye sockets, followed by her collapsing to the floor, frenetically drumming her feet, and shitting her pants.

  42. #42 |  Andrew S. | 

    I have a new favorite comment, Radley. If that is your real name, CASEY!

    Do not kid yourself.. .Casey Anthony probably wrote this piece. Caylee’s law is a good idea. And the author should be looked into…who lets a child swim at a lake where there appears to be no lifeguard/ adult supervisio n? In the example cited if a child swims without supervisio n and drowns the parents are at fault. Hopefully this author does not have children. I mean who is sleeping with children (under 12) playing outside? Sounds to me this is an adovcate for the poor parent.

  43. #43 |  Casey Anthony Boycott Shows That The Caylee Anthony Crowd Is Made Up of Useful Idiots | Popehat | 

    […] Anthony think-of-the-children folks on Twitter, who (like many of her ilk) is outraged that some people think that the howls for “Caylee’s Law” are misguided. She says this: How can a law that protects children be WRONG? How can it be […]