Jun 30, 2013

A good judge is hard to find.*

if you're looking for one, try Iowa. A guy here named David Wiggins makes his living as a supreme court justice. He keeps beating our primitives over their little statist heads, making the point that constitutions are written for reasons -- even that Fourth Amendment which makes life so inconvenient for cops.

Last week he let a drunk (but not very, .088) driver go because officers had only  a sorehead's anonymous tip to justify stopping him.

"To hold otherwise would cause legitimate concern because such tips would let the police stop persons on anonymous tips that might have been called in for vindictive or harassment purposes or based solely on a hunch or rumor." 

Thank you, Your Honor.

If you're interested in a a lucid explanation of some constitutional limits on a cop's authority to invade your privacy, the Wiggins opinion in the case (PDF) is worth a read.

This is the same guy who wrote another Fourth Amendment stunner saying that if police stop you for a piddly reason, they need to be damned careful about searching you in hopes of finding an unrelated offense. Wiggins warned them  to shape up or face the liklihood of being required to explicitly tell you, "No, you don't have to let me search you for pot just because your dog got off his leash." This is State vs. Pals.

One other reason to like this guy. He earned the hatred of Rick Santorum hard-shells in Iowa by ruling -- along with all six other justices -- that banning gay marriage violated the Iowa Constitution. Santorum's alter-ego in these parts, Bob Vander Platts, saw a fund-raising opportunity and led a successful drive to oust three of those justices.

Wiggins came up for retention one cycle later, and VDP went after him, too, but blew it. Many folks in the Vander Platts pews had become less excitable, allowing Wiggins to make his case that that the process of constitutional law was far more important than the outcome of any given issue. (As an aside, that was the same approach Bork took before an audience of excitable senators, and don't we wish he, also, had carried the day.)

I'm trying to phone His Ineptness to suggest he appoint our Justice Wiggins to oversee all FISA court cases. So far the call goes straight to presidential voice mail. I'm not really angry, though. According to the news he is up to his ears in trying to give Africa seven billion of our dollars so they can have electricity to charge their iPads, and isn't that just what we elected him to do?


*You often get the other kind.

Justice Waterman dissented in this recent case, continuing his pattern of telling Officer Fife, "Whatever Barney Wants, Barney Gets."  (The Pals case again.) Unfortunately, he's a long way from his retention vote.


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