Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Law and the Face of Evil

This is a hard one to write. I'm still that angry.

Attorneys are required to have a set number of hours of continuing legal education each year. In Georgia, the requirement is twelve hours. Today, I attended this seminar. The speakers were largely well balanced on the issue of the second amendment rights. Most were well-prepared (Bob Barr being the notable exception. I am so glad I didn't vote for him. He seemed nice though.)

Two of the speakers were people I disagree with. One was a Mr. Eric Proshansky. He is leading the New York City civil case against the gun dealers. While I suspect he agrees with his client's stance politically, he was nonetheless professional and did an excellent job of advocating an unpopular position in the face of a polite, but hostile audience. He came across as a fighter and possibly a former debate team captain. Were he in private practice, he is an advocate I would recommend to clients without a qualm.

The second speaker with whom I am in disagreement is the point of this post. Professor Eric Segall teaches Constitutional law at Georgia State University Law School. He is an intelligent man. He was one of two Georgia State Law Profs that discussed the Heller case. And he crawled me.

As a minor point, he referred to the Supremes as being comprised of four conservatives, one swing vote (Justice Kennedy) and four moderates. By definition, the four dissenters are not moderates. They are liberals or leftists, but not moderates. So he did us the favour of signaling his bias and contempt for accuracy in one sentence.

Basically, he exemplified the leftist elite. The stereotypical "we are smarter, better, brighter and more capable than you plebeians. Just go away and let us run the world for you." Unfortunately, attorneys are already arrogant so that kind of condescension did not play well.

But the major point I am making is his utter contempt for precedent and, to a lesser degree, inherent rights. He is a bright fellow. He is intellectually corrupt. If we, as a profession and as a nation abandon precedent as the basis for judge made law, then what we are left with are an aggregation of subjective judgments that can be over-ruled without restraint. We would be a nation held hostage to judicial and legislative caprice. The United States would be exactly opposite of the nation it was founded to be.

Maybe Mr Segall wants to live in such a world, but I do not. Further, if he truly thought his stance through, he would realize that however much subjectivity may be justified as a metaphysical position (which view I do not hold), at law we have to use an absolute standard, even if it means pretending there is such a thing (more on that later). Only by appealing to an absolute set of rules, even if man made, can the laws be enforced evenly. And only if the laws are enforced evenly will they be obeyed.

That Professor Segall does not understand that is horrible. That he teaches a policy driven Constitutional Law class is a shocking waste of the taxpayer's money. The charge that was leveled against Socrates can fairly be leveled against Professor Segall.*

*However, I do not advocate that he meet the same end. Rather, I hope for his conversion from the forces of incoherency over to the side of Truth, Justice and the American Way. With a lot less kryptonite.


Perpetua said...

Is the charge against Socrates to which you refer that "the effect of his teaching is to make young men despise the existing constitution and resort to violence,"?
I thought he was against gun ownership?

Matthew said...

"Corrupting the youth and impiety", both of which fit.