Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Roper v. Simmons

There is a concept that is commonly used in my profession when discussing questions of legal competence, i.e. whether a person is fit to stand trial for what she or he is accused of. This is the concept of lucida intervalla. In brief, it refers to a deranged person, which commits a punishable act while being temporarily lucid, or free of his or her madness.

Today felt like a lucida intervalla in these otherwise deranged times we are living. The Supreme Court finally managed to find the public slaying of juveniles in conflict with the Constitution. Granted, there is some merit to dissenting Justice Scalia's opinion, wherein he criticizes that the Court does this by finding that "the evolving standards of decency" have reversed the way in which the Eighth Amendment should be interpreted. However, his stinging denunciation, though directed at the Court, serves mainly to expose the shame of the legislature in the States where this abomination has been left on the books. A shame which extends to the people of these States, which have silently condoled this practice for decades. People, who quite probably can not fathom how a whole nation can look the other way while the state commits mass murder in their name. Nazi Germany anyone?

Nevertheless. Today, a small restoration of the reputation of this nation from perceived barbarism. I guess baby steps is the best we can hope for.