Random Recollection

Strange are the ways of the Judiciary

Yatindra Bhatnagar

The judiciary is supposed to be saner, more intelligent and more far-sighted than us, ordinary and normal people. However, some of the  judgements of these learned, honorable men and women have been utterly ridiculous, absolutely wrong and totally improper.

In many cases, in this country, some lower court judges are elected, not appointed. They are voted by people and their campaign involves supporters and opponents, money and campaigning, and also possible improprieties not befitting a judge. In many cases, even Sheriffs are elected with all those campaigning, money and related stuff involved.

The results in giving verdicts and taking action undoubtedly get colored. No human can really rise above all the bonding with undesirable things and people and ideas and temptation – and questionable judgements.  

A recent case is stranger than fiction:

The ‘Empire’ star Jussie Mollett was arrested in Chicago and had 16 felony charges against him for falsely reporting to Police about a hate crime. The Police investigated thoroughly and found that he was guilty, he had staged the drama and so on. The case was on-going and he was on bail.

Now all of a sudden, the Cook County attorney’s office dropped all charges against him, lauded his community service and ‘wiped his case clean.’ Wow!

This has outraged right-thinking people. The Police and other law-enforcement people spent weeks and efforts and money investigating the incident and had found out that Mollett himself had staged this drama and paid for it and lodged a false hate crime report with the Police. And now no charges, everything over, charges wiped out clean. Hurrah!

Even the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, blasted dropping of the charges. The Police chief himself is outraged. Judge Napolitano said this sort of thing is unheard of.

But that happened and an arm of the judiciary is responsible for this strange turn-around.

Some old and new cases should be eye-openers.

One of the older cases is about Free Speech and The Flag and the National Anthem. In 1989, some Supreme Court judges thought some people’s voice is more important and sacrosanct than the nation’s symbols and pride. They allowed The Flag to be burned, stomped on and insulted. Same ‘concession’ with the National Anthem! This opened the flood gates on disrespect for the nation’s symbols and pride. This Free Speech fever continues and will continue till some national pride pricked the conscience of some judges and they decide ‘better late than never’ and change the verdict.

There are cases when the judges are so soft, swayed and sentimental that they give lenient sentences for cruel crimes such as rape, armed robbery and even murder.

Then there is a court that is so obsessed with Free Speech that it forgets the difference between obscenity and Free Speech – in this case Free Gesture. And where do you stop? There are more parts of your body that could be shown and then expected to be included in Free Speech.

A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Cincinnati has ruled that showing the middle finger is all part of the Free Speech protected by the American Constitution.  A woman, mind you, a woman, showed her middle finger to a Cop who had given her a traffic ticket. He was shown the middle finger and the judges probably liked the finger so much that the much used/abused part of the human body is now included as a sacred symbol of Free Speech, protected by the Constitution. 

Note the progress: “the ancient gesture of insult” has now become a symbol of Free Speech!

I wonder if someone would attend the court and show his or her middle finger to those judges – any judge – and plead Free Speech.

I am sure the framers of the Constitution would not be amused by this laughable verdict and ridiculous definition of Free Speech.

Only if they could fire those ‘middle finger-loving’ judges and re-define the meaning of Free Speech and the real words, and spirit, of the Constitution!

3/25/19