Friday, February 26, 2010


I have read the Oral Arguments in Carr v. United States.

In fact, I read them a couple of days ago. But to tell the truth, I couldn’t get much useful out of them.

You can read some always worthwhile blog reports here and here (and also get a link to the transcript of the Arguments).

But really, I don’t see much in them.

So I’ll take a moment to go with that thought.

It’s a complicated case, revolving around just when a sex-offender who travels interstate becomes guilty of a Federal felony (through the operation of AWA) simply for travelling and not registering. So while this is a ‘sex offender’ case, it’s not a core-issues case.

As I said in my Posts on the New Jersey Poritz case and the US Supreme Court Doe v. Smith case, I’d like to see something strike right at the heart of these things: which might well be the gross inaccuracy of the Findings made by the State and Federal legislators that really provide the entire (and false) basis of the ‘emergency’ and ‘public threat’ which underlies the whole mess of SO legislation.

Otherwise, you’re always going to find yourself facing these court cases where the Court simply assumes the validity of the legislative Findings – and thus of the ‘public danger emergency’ – and once all THAT is granted, most of these cases can only become focused on technicalities and perhaps the specifics of injustice in one particular case.*

It would be nice if instead of attacking Vicksburg by climbing up the bluffs in the teeth of prepared fire we could simply blow the mountain bluff out from under the city and all the fortifications and solve the whole problem in one stroke. (Easier, I think for us today as a metaphor for how to proceed, than it would have been for Grant trying to actually reduce the city militarily in 1863).

But a couple of points stand out in the Oral Arguments.

First, the Justices demonstrated a disturbing amount of ignorance about basic facts, which makes me think that many of them weren’t prepared and – frankly – hadn’t done their homework.

And THAT makes me wonder if they really care about these SO cases. Is it possible that they figure that the case in front of them – since it deals with a convicted sex offender who isn’t trying to ‘get off’ but simply trying to avoid the Federal part of his post-conviction problems – doesn’t really excite Their Honors?

And since the Questions to be Resolved don’t go quickly and clearly to the very heart of the whole SO matter then they figure they’ll just listen, make some noise at Oral questioning, and quietly vote against the guy in the privacy of chambers.

Second, it came out through the government attorney that Congress had felt it necessary to pass AWA for a couple of reasons. First, that there are a lot of Federal sex-offenders (how can that be?) who are ‘escaping’ registration because they aren’t registering with their States, and the States don’t even know it. These offenders – post-release – manage to “fall through the cracks” and thus constitute a grave public danger (because of that frakkulously inaccurate estimation of SO recidivism rates in the early Findings) – a public danger sooooo great that Congress is deeply and urgently moved to take over from the States.

That ties in with another, less trumpeted reason: that the various States have differing approaches not only to classifying SO’s, but also to registering them: apparently Congress has been convinced by the usual suspects that there are hordes of post-release offenders loose in the country, whose State has decided that they don’t need to be registered.

In other words, there are allegedly many post-release offenders now LEGALLY not-registered because their State did not choose to consider them as needing to be on the SO registry. But since these guys too pose that grave public threat because of their ‘high recidivism’ then Congress has to pitch in and find a way to “catch” (that verb kept coming up in the discussions) them – thus by requiring an SO to register with SOME State every time he crossed a State line, the Feds are hoping to “catch” all these guys.

AND the magic number – which nobody seems to know where it came from but I’m guessing from a fax sent to a receptive Congressperson by the usual suspects – is 100,000. There are supposed to be 100,000 of these people roaming the country like un-belled feral cats, carrying their disease and danger with them and none of the poor States even know that they’re there (so the Feds will be glad to step in and help).

This comes from the 40-year-old general ‘advocacy’ strategy of side-stepping individual States, setting up shop in the Beltway, and complaining to or threatening Congress so that Federal authority could be made to give you what you want all in one fell swoop; this one-stop advocacy shopping is quicker and more efficient.

(And, I’m thinking, since the late Sixties gives Congress a chance to look like it’s doing something, despite the fact that it would no longer be able to do much constructively to carry out its own actual responsibilities – the national economy, the national military adventures, and such .)

(And, I’m also thinking, because with the ‘deconstruction’ of Family, Marriage, Adult Authority, Tradition, Culture, and even Reason then Congress – and the Regulatory-Preventive Nanny State – would be the only source of civic order. So even if the economy was allowed to go to hell, and the military was sent into unwinnable and maybe unjustifiable wars, Congress would still ‘deserve’ its paycheck because it had become, by operation of a default that Congress had greatly helped along, the sole source of civic order and the sole bestower of ‘rights’ [God and Human Nature having been deconstructed].)

You see where these things can go, and how indeed the toe bone winds up connected to the head-bone if you trace things out far enough.

I am going to bet that the number “100,000” is one of those numbers I’ve been seeing since runaway-kids in their ‘hundreds of thousands’ first began appearing on milk-cartons thirty-plus years ago.

So I don’t know how much can be expected from the Supreme Court in this type of case. I think it’s going to take a case that tackles the dark beating heart of the monster directly to capture the Supreme Court’s attention.

And I’d add that the SO’s attorney – perhaps a bit anxious because he was speaking to the Court on behalf of an actually convicted SO who could be construed as raising ‘only’ a ‘technical’ point - gave a lot away, probably to reduce the chance of pissing off one or several of the Justices. Which is a natural hazard in this type of case.

And again, my thought is that if somehow a case can be brought on the core issues, then the SO attorney would be on clear high ground and needn’t give so much away just to be allowed to stay on the field for the game.

In another matter, I read somewhere (the Justice Policy Institute, I think) that Congress has put 20 million in the budget to be distributed to States to help them defray the cost for implementing AWA. So if the stick doesn’t work, they’ll try the carrot. But 20mil ain’t nothin’ when there are 50 States and EACH one of them is going to have initial start-up costs of at least several million, AND then ongoing recurring costs of several million. But you get a sense of how nervous they are up in the Beltway.

You’d think that with the economy and the wars and the increasinly obvious American decline generally – so largely aided and abetted by the Beltway – they’d already be pretty nervous, if not humbled.

But no.

Even though, as I listen here to a CD of Johnny Mercer's 'The Days of Wine and Roses" played by Henry Mancini, the entire country - much like those two bright, young but binge-wrecked things in the film - now must pass "through a closing door, a door marked Nevermore, that wasn't there before".

I suppose, if we all just wait, the whole country will be sex-offenders before long. On soooo many levels.


*I recall reading in the past couple of days a short piece on the Sex Offender Research site in which a State’s bill to ease the requirements on SOs has been stalled in committee: says one legislator “When it comes to sex offenders, you want to make sure you’ve got everything right”.

Which is refreshing, but then not.

Because while this gentleman seems verrrry concerned to make sure you are absolutely “right” when easing the SO laws, you don’t have to be “right” at all in the original frakkulously wrong assumptions that fueled the whole Mania in the first place – nor, apparently, do you even have to take the time and effort to inform yourself as a legislator about the numerous studies now extant that indicate that the entire SORNA scheme is conceptually incoherent, based on grossly inaccurate Findings, and probably not only doesn’t contribute to “public safety” but actually decreases “public safety” in several large ways.

No comments:

Post a Comment