April 15, 2008

"We understand why someone might want to engage in this activity, but we are judges and if we are judges, no torture. Absolutely none."

In a debate with Justice Scalia, Justice Breyer quotes the Israeli Supreme Court.


EnigmatiCore said...

Are we not men? We are Devo!

I just can't wait to hear Cedarford's take on this. Almost as much as Mortimer's.

Simon said...

Well, if you're wanting to find out the right answer - "is torture moral" or what-have-you - then I suppose it might be reasonable. But if you are judges, your authority to say "no torture" pretty much starts and ends with the Constitution and statutes of the United States. I appreciate that Justice Breyer has taken from legal process that judges ought to be candid about the reasons underlying their decisions, and so they should be: if the Israeli Supreme Court's reasoning is persuasive, so be it. But candor only gets you so far. It doesn't explain the relevance of those materials to the interpretation of the materials that give the American judge power over a given subject.

I would plug my own work on foreign law (see The Misguided Search for the 'One Law - and the Ongoing Struggle to Articulate it Correctly', but Judge Easterbrook has said it so much better than I did - see Foreign Sources and the American Constitution, 30 Harv. J. of L. & PP 223 (2006).

peter hoh said...

As to the morality of torture, I'm looking forward to hearing the Pope articulate the church's teachings on the matter.

Joe said...

Shouldn't it be that if we are judges, then we will wait until the evidence is presented and then rule on that?

memomachine said...


If I'm the judge then all I can say is:

Bring on the ball-peen hammers.

If it's a choice between my family and a terrorist, then that terrorist had better resign himself to a very bad day.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

If it's a choice between my family and a terrorist, then that terrorist had better resign himself to a very bad day.

I'm with you on that.

I guess some people are more forgiving and warm-hearted than I am, perhaps because they believe in an afterlife and I don't. But I think of all the people in the world who felt joy in their hearts when those planes hit the towers, and I think to myself -- if I had the power to make all of them die in agony, I would use that power and I would not feel the slightest twinge of guilt for doing it. I hear someone tell me that a hundred jihadis have died under torture and I feel nothing but grim satisfaction for it.

B said...

well, Rev, I do believe in life eternal, but I appreciate your point.

When it comes to pulling information from someone committed to killing my family, just get the job done and spare me the details.

Beldar said...

Nothing in this debate is that simple. It's naive, bordering on insulting, for Justice Breyer, or whoever he was quoting from the Israeli Supreme Court, to suggest that it is.

Cedarford said...

Breyer sanctimoniously citing the Israeli Supreme Court on torture is like citing the Chinese Supreme People's Court on property rights.

Israel has tortured the terrorists it has caught for decades without a peep from the Justices in Tel Aviv...and until the whole Lefty "human rights" show started, one one much cared about what the Shin Bet was doing to Abdul the knifer of jewish women or Ibrihim the bomb-maker. Especially since everyone understood the "Arab Way" was far worse than the tortures the Jews found useful on Islamoids to help save lives.

After 9/11, many in the Bush Administration held the Israelis up as the example on how to make the few evildoers that gave Bush's beloved Religion of Peace an unfair reputation, talk. They are the experts, it was said.

but we are judges and if we are judges, no torture. Absolutely none.

Yeah, too bad Scalia didn't respond with a joke about knowing an Israeli lawyer is lying merely by observing that their lips are moving

rhhardin said...

Human rights didn't start out the way they're taken now, which is as a battle of human wills against each other. That would have zero moral content, if that's what they were.

It took moral content from its initially being watching out for the rights of the other guy ; and that by being called on, which was the moral aspect. It defined who you at that moment became, as unique.

The moral question, when you're torturing this guy, is what you're called on to do, for him. You might leave him a certain space that is not necessary to the job.

Torture can also be a hail fellow well met compliment, and all a job. We are all professionals here.

Just morally speaking, which means in terms of what it does to the torturer.

Protestors might well be simply soap opera weenies, morally vacuous, except insofar as they define themselves as morally worthless.

Trooper York said...

We can eliminate the whole question
of torture if we just play Èl Degüello as we go into battle and take of business the old fashioned way.