January 9, 2006

30 questions for Alito.

The NYT op-ed page features six legal writers coming up with a total 30 questions for Samuel Alito.

Leonard A. Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, asks the one that Robert Bork gave his most damaging answer to: "why do you want to be on the Supreme Court?" (Bork said he thought it would be "an intellectual feast.")

Lawprof Stanley Fish has the most interesting questions, including: "Is the fictional world of Philip K. Dick's story "Minority Report"- in which people are arrested for crimes they have not yet committed - becoming a reality in the United States?" (He's concerned about the way we treat sex offenders who have already served their sentences.)


Anonymous said...

Not just sex offenders, but many divorced fathers, and some divorced mothers are also subject to having their rights violated, specifically their right to due process, and their right to innocence until proven guilty.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

How about a little sensitivity to the rights of authors? That's too long of a quote. I deleted it.

Mark the Pundit said...

I am uncomfortable with the aspects of civil committment after someone completes their sentence (why just have this for sex offenders and not for other offenses?).

However, I have no problems with the requirement that sex offenders be registered when they are released.

Anonymous said...

It's okay that you delete them, I'd prefer that to your taking me to court for annoying you while using a pseudonym.

Mein President, George Bush now, worried about criticism has just signed into law the Use a Pseudonym, Go To Jail Bill.

(On the otherhand, I linked, and I believe it was clearly a fair use. But truly, since this is 2005 and not 1776, and Constitutional Law Professors have not supported the EFF and ACLU as they should have, I do worry about my right to anonymous speech.)

Jennifer said...

why just have this for sex offenders and not for other offenses?

I would tend to agree with you on civil commitment after sentences are served...that's why I support parole programs.

BUT, just focusing on your question above, I would venture to say that sex offenders have some unique characteristics.

They are driven by compulsion rather than circumstance. This probably drives up their recidivism rates.

What a sex offender takes can't be replaced. You can't make restitution on a child's innocence.

Their victims tend to be the most vulnerable in society. It's logical that society would go to the farthest lengths to protect them.

Kevin said...

The right to troll anonymously. Yes, I see this as an issue of great importance.

Adam said...

And the right to troll was just erased by the President last week, apparently.

Balfegor said...

Wait, is Stanley Fish a law professor? I thought he was just a literary theorist who commented on law (and anything else) in his spare time.

jimbino said...

Even worse is the third-class treatment visited upon an ex-con who was actually innocent of the offense, since he cannot enjoy special privileges accorded to those who have shown remorse or undergone "rehabilitation." Our justice system is just plain sick.

Henry said...

Interesting article. Sounds like Specter was inspired by Campus speech codes. Nice to see Clarence Thomas get some well-deserved free-speech props.

itrelated said...


Kirk Parker said...

Wow, Fish really gets around! Last I heard, he was a dean somewhere.

But yeah, how did he make the move to law professor?

Goatwhacker said...

Sorry to contribute to the continued creep of the thread away from the original topic, but I read the Cnet article referenced several times above, then read through the pertinent part of the bill. I could not find the exact language the author quotes in Section 113, was anybody else able to?

Anyway, it looks like the Violence Against Women act was appended to the Justice Reauthorization Act. I don't find that particularly troubling although the author does. It looks like the intent of the referenced section was to extend to the internet the same constraints that now apply to telephone harassment in the setting of sexual harassment and stalking.

I doubt the intent of this act was to secretly find a way to punish annoying internet posters, as some on here seem to imply. It looks like the language needs to be cleaned up and better defined, though.

Tyler Simons said...

Wait, is Stanley Fish a law professor? I thought he was just a literary theorist who commented on law (and anything else) in his spare time.

According to his web page at the FIU site, Fish doesn't have a law degree, but he is a faculty member in their College of Law.

The guy does get around, and it is really interesting to me that Ann thinks that the most interesting questions are coming from a non-lawyer. This does suggest that Fish might be in a position to be an asset to a law school, regardless of his academic history. He probably got bored as an administrator in Chicago and FIU showed him the money.

Eli Blake said...

It is not impinging on the rights of sex offenders to track them.

First of all, we limit the rights of convicted felons generally-- for example a convicted felon doesn't have the same second amendment protection that you or I have if we want to buy a gun. Since sex offenders are felons, ergo, we as a society have a right to restrict their rights if necessary to protect ourselves.

There is ample evidence that they are a chronic threat-- very few sex offenders that we know of have managed to quit being sex offenders. Think about it. If you, not being a pedophile, don't find kids sexually interesting, then it would be almost impossible for you to wake up one day and decide that for that day you will quit finding adults intersting sexually and be attracted to kids. Well, pedophiles are in the same boat, but the reverse. So, if we let them out it makes sense to monitor. The problem is we don't do it the right way (think Martha Stewart.) and if we consider life in prison an appropriate sentence for murder, then doesn't it follow that life on parole is (which essentially is what monitoring is) is appropriate for rape or pedophilia?. As a matter of fact, I also support constant monitoring of chronic drunk drivers-- for the same reason, they are a menace.

Now, I've blogged on this topic and some closely related ones at length. To avoid having Ann delete this as too long, I will post some links:

on tracking sex offenders

tracking this sex offender could have saved yet more lives (a follow up to the first post)

the prison that follows prison (on how we fail to help felons in general find a way to become productive, gainfully employed citizens when they finish their sentence).

contrasting monitoring criminals with recent monitoring of people by the Bush administration

PD Shaw said...

If someone on a sex offender registery moves next door to you, aren't you being punished for no justifiable reason? Are you being asked to serve as an unpaid prison guard for the un-rehabilitated? What are you supposed to do with that knowledge that you should already be doing?

twwren said...


A bio of one quetioner according to the NYT article-

"Kenji Yoshino is deputy dean for intellectual life at Yale Law School."

What do you suppose he does? If there wasn't such a position, would there be no intellectual life at Yale or would it just be rudderless?

jimbino said...

I can't wait for savvy real-estate agents to put up "sex offender lives here" signs in order to do the block busting so typical of 1950s Chicago. It would be a great repeat of poetic justice to hoist the oppressors by their own petards.

Eli Blake said...

PD Shaw:

The sex offender (who has obviously fulfilled his prison sentence) has as much right to move next door to you as a paroled armed robber, a murderer who has served his sentence, an embezzler, a volunteer worker with the all-saints society, a police officer or the pope, if he wants to.

The only difference is, that the sex offender has to register, so you know he is a sex offender.

What else do you want? Keep in mind that no matter where he moves, SOMEBODY will be his neighbor.

knox said...

The real solution for pedophiles, who do have a sky-high recidivism rate, is to never let them out. Ever. "One strike and you're out."

I happen to agree that it's wrong to continue to punish someone after they've served their sentence. But in the absence of effective sentencing of these repeat-repeat-offenders, I'm with Eli---monitor them forever if that's what it takes.

It is especially risky to let them out, as the victims of pedophiles are the pedophiles of tomorrow. Not all of them, certainly, but it perpetuates the cycle.

Chris O'Brien said...

Stanley Fish is an unrepentant defender of those campus speech codes (you know, the equally applied ones that get people on all sides of issues, left or right, fairly halued before Thoughtcrime Panels). Now he teaches law? I think there are a few wonderful shining examples of the academic left which truly want open and honest debate on issues as opposed to a 4 year agenda indoctrination, but overall, Old Stanley is pretty representative.

Charlie Martin said...

Yeah, how'd Stan Fish become a law professor. His PhD is in Lit (on Paradise Lost, I think.)

Used to hang with Stan a bit when I was at Duke....