Monday, June 27, 2005

Just what are they smoking?

The Supreme Court these days has your blogstress humming a Kinks tune:

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It's a mixed-up, tumbled-up, shook-up world


Given the rash of bizarre decisions to emanate from the temple just down the street from your Webwench's Oppo Factory, you've got to wonder, just what are they smokin'?

Livin' with Mary Jane
Beginning with smokin', The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg is a must-read on the high court's pot verdict in the case Gonzales (as in A.G. Alberto) v. Raich (as in pain patient with a doctor's prescription for the offending substance):

To make sense of Gonzales v. Raich, a Supreme Court Decoder Ring, available with three box tops from Original Intent Cereal, would be a valuable accessory.

The decision, which struck down the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes--even in states where the voters had approved such use--was no triumph of the right. Rather it was a victory granted, more or less, by what Hertzberg calls "the four moderate-to-almost-liberal Justices--David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion...":

The least muddled opinion was Justice Thomas’s separate dissent, certain passages of which (e.g., “In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana”) could have been written by Justice Cheech or Justice Chong.

Yes, your cybertrix knows that it's not exactly fair to be giving away all of Hertzberg's best lines in the territory occupied by her breakaway republic, but she takes comfort in the fact that the piece is a week old. It seems your écrivaine is never quite up to speed with The New Yorker, a publication she prefers to read at a leisurely pace, lolling about the boudior, draped in something fetching, les bon-bons at hand. Yet the busy pace of her nêt-tete lifestyle is getting in the way of such pursuits.

For the actual reasoning behind the decision, your blogstress refers her reader to Hertzberg himself.

Property: not yours, even if you paid for it
In a particularly chilling and mind-numbing decision, the Court's so-called liberals banded together to render a decision permitting municipalities to seize private property and hand it over to their favored real-estate developers. In her search of the Constitution's provisions on property, your cybertrix finds herself flummoxed looking for the clause that says fat cats in collusion with local government have the right to take people's homes from them. In a single decision, the justices have managed to combine the worst attributes of two flawed systems--socialism and capitalism. Now, don't get your Webwench wrong: Whatever the flaws, she is a died-in-the-wool capitalist, which means she thinks that people who pay for the things they own should get to keep them.

The concept of eminent domain has never been one with which your net-tête was entirely comfortable, but at least it is one that resides explicitly within the U.S. Constitution. Eminent domain refers to the government's right to appropriate property for public works necessary for the greater good--the building of highways, for example. But when the government takes land (reimbursing the owner at market value), the land itself becomes the property of the people at large.

In the Court's recent decision, the land goes into the sticky private hands of developers whose projects, sanctioned by government, are projected to bring some state of economic well-being to the public at large. With Nazi references being all the rage these days, your blogstress reluctantly reminds the Court that the Third Reich was characterized by just such an economic system: one in which the will of the state was exercised by corporate privateers. How utterly distressing that it's come to this. One wonders if the lead-laced water on Capitol Hill has taken its toll on the robed sages.

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