Marquette Warrior: Tolerant Liberals – 102

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tolerant Liberals – 102

When juries in Colorado retire to deliberate whether a convicted murderer gets the death penalty, they are charged with making an “individual moral assessment,” as to whether the convicted man should live.

When members of one such jury referred to the Bible before sentencing a man to death, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the sentence, saying the Bible was an improper outside influence and that jurors had relied on a “higher authority.” The New York Times quoted one expert as follows:
“The court says we’re asking you to be moral men and women, to make a moral judgment of the right thing to do,” said Thane Rosenbaum, a professor of law at Fordham University School of Law in New York City, and author of the book “The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What’s Right” (HarperCollins, 2004). “But then we say the juror cheated because he brought in a book that forms the basis of his moral universe,” Professor Rosenbaum said. “The thing is, he would have done it anyway, in his head.”
It’s normal in court proceedings to sequester jurors and prohibit them from seeing materials that might bias their judgment on the factual issues in a case. But facts weren’t at issue here, only the jurors’ moral code, which they were explicitly charged with consulting.

The criminal in question, one Robert Harlan, kidnaped and raped a waitress. The woman escaped and flagged down a female motorist who came to her aid. Harlan caught up with both women and shot the motorist, leaving her paralyzed. He then beat and killed the waitress.

So let’s see the hands: how many people here think that, had the jury consulted Plato’s Laws, or the writings of Gandhi, or John Stuart Mill’s opinions on the death penalty anybody would have had any problem with the jury consulting those “higher authorities?”

I didn’t think so.


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