Bracing against the wind  

Friday, July 22, 2005

What's in a french fry?

Is it crazy to care so much about french fries? Why, in a long career studded with accomplishment, must John Roberts be subjected to scrutiny over an absurd case involving the arrest of a girl over eating a french fry?

A 12 year old girl was handcuffed, had her shoelaces removed (bizarre?), and was transported in a windowless rear compartment of a police vehicle, booked, fingerprinted and detained. During the entire arrest, witnesses and the police admitted that the girl did not resist and was crying the entire time.

The offense was eating a french fry on a subway.

Contrary to lies being promulgated on various weblogs, she was not caught stealing. The Washington Metro had simply banned eating on subways.

Our new supreme court appointee, John Roberts, upheld the legality of banning eating in public places, and of rigorously enforcing the ban to the extent that kids could be handcuffed for eating on the subway.

According to some commentary, he was being called upon to determine whether the arrest violated the 4th or 5th Amendments. Perhaps it did not. But it did violate the 8th and perhaps the 9th amendments. In this case, the arrest itself was an unusual punishment that clearly did not fit the crime.

And that's why this case is so important. Yes, judges have to be impartial and should be easily swayed by emotional considerations. But, more importantly, they have to uphold the law.

Judge Roberts, in this ruling, apparently cared more about his career and "looking tough" and less about being an accurate and impartial judge.


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