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May 06, 2003

That Wacky Texas Top Court

You know you're rightwing when...

The Rehnquist Court unanimously overturns a ruling and thinks your decision was so obviously bad that they issue an unsigned opinion making fun of you for being too rightwing.

In the case, a teenager was suspected in a murder but the police had no evidence to get an arrest warrant. Despite this, they pulled the teenage out of his home, handcuffed him in his underwear, and marched him half-naked and barefoot to the police station. This illegal arrest was justified by the police by the fact that when the teen was told to come along, he said "O.K."

The top Texas Court endorsed this theory on the idea that the teenager should have realized he was free to go at any time, because "a reasonable person" in his position "would not believe that being put in handcuffs was a significant restriction on his freedom of movement" and since the teen did not struggle with the police, he obviously thought being in jail was fine with him.

As the unanimous US Supreme Court stated in ridiculing the Texas court:

Contrary to the the state court's view, the opinion said, "a group of police officers rousing an adolescent out of bed in the middle of the night with the words `we need to go and talk' presents no option but `to go.' "

"As for the lack of resistance," the court added, "failure to struggle with a cohort of deputy sheriffs is not a waiver of Fourth Amendment protection, which does not require the perversity of resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer."

Now remember, this Texas group is the Court where most of the members think Priscilla Owens, Bush's newest crazy nominee, is too rightwing for them. So Owens is the wackjob rightwing of a wackjob rightwing court, many of whose members were appointed by Dubya when he was governor.

These are Dubya's kind of nominees. Filibuster them all.

Update: J.P. points out that I misunderstood the ins and outs of the Texas "justice" system, since the top criminal appeals court is not the same as the regular Texas Supreme Court where Priscilla Owens was appointed. J.P. "I'm no Owen fan, but in fairness, the Texas Supreme Court never heard this case. Texas has a separate Court of Criminal Appeals that has final appellate jurisdiction over all criminal cases. Also, the Court of Criminal Appeals didn't rule on this case either - it just denied cert. The opinion you refer to was actually from the intermediate appellate court." All good and fair points of clarification-- although they don't override the basic point that this is what passes for reasonable justice in Texas and among Dubya appointees who denied cert.

Posted by Nathan at May 6, 2003 09:50 AM

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Comments

I'm no Owen fan, but in fairness, the Texas Supreme Court never heard this case. Texas has a separate Court of Criminal Appeals that has final appellate jurisdiction over all criminal cases. Also, the Court of Criminal Appeals didn't rule on this case either - it just denied cert. The opinion you refer to was actually from the intermediate appellate court.

Posted by: JP at May 6, 2003 04:35 PM

Not that it makes any practical difference, but the Court of Criminal Appeals didn't "deny cert.", it "denied discretionary review." Denying a writ of certiorari is what the U.S. Supreme Court does when it rejects a case. Texas appellate courts don't use the term.

Posted by: Basharov at May 6, 2003 06:14 PM

FWIW, the Court of Criminal Appeals has its own poster child for rightwing wackjobbery: Sharon Keller.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner at May 8, 2003 10:57 AM

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