I’m not exactly sure just how this happened, but one day apparently Hannah Montana was a repeat and I wound up watching CSPAN’s coverage of a Harvard Law School event, where a bunch of big wigs, including the sexually over curious Kenneth Starr, reargued the Dread Scott case in front of a bunch of judges including Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court.
Being someone who is never not fascinated by Supreme Court cases, I found this exercise to be … a complete and utter waste of time. Clarence Thomas masturbating to pornography is a more significant cultural event.
The Supreme Court hears nothing but appeals and theoretically they must always rule based on previous precedents, unless they can find that a mistake was made legally in the precedent setting case. As a judge, you aren’t supposed to just rule based on your political beliefs, which is why people get all in a huff about “activist” judges in Massachusetts, who are in favor of Gay marriages. Of course, I believe that Brown vs. Board of Education, which barred school desegregation is one of the biggest instances of activist judging ever. I’m glad it happened, but there are a ton of right wing judges today, who would be forced to admit that they’d have ruled differently given their conservative legal views if they were truly honest about it.
So here’s how the law works. Say, you were a slave in Virginia in the 1820’s. Somehow, you are able to bring your case to the Supreme Court. There your lawyer argues that slavery is morally wrong and that you should be set free. The Judge, although he might detest slavery, would be required to say. “I hate slavery, but slavery is legal in Virginia, sorry, maybe you could write your congressman.”
So all these great legal minds on CSPAN, rehear the Dred Scott case, and everyone has to play by the same rules they had back in 1857. Thus, you have all these people discussing the Missouri Compromise and other statutes for two and a half hours, but no one is allowed to say “Who the fuck cares about those laws? They were passed by racists who allowed slavery!”
Trying to decide whether Dred Scott is really a slave or a free man, because his owner took him to Illinois, is a complete waste of time. There shouldn’t have been a thing such as slavery in the first place. The whole case was just looking for a loophole in a really corrupt system.
It’s the same thing as saying, “We’re going to have a debate, but for the purposes of this debate, it is legal for any male citizen to rape any single woman anytime he feels like it. Now, the question before us today, a man has raped a woman that he thought to be unmarried, but it turned out that she just wasn’t wearing her ring that day. Should he go to jail?” You know, like we were in a Saudi Arabian court.
The whole Harvard event was nonsense, but that of course didn’t stop everyone involved from patting each other on the back every five seconds. Everyone involved felt they were in the presence of esteemed and distinguished gentlemen, and they said so constantly. A naked circle jerk would have been a better use of CSPAN’s time.