wonkette law skool

Supreme Court Wusses Out On Sending Kids To Jail For Life, And More

There was a contest a while backThe big decision we’ve all been waiting for is finally in: “The Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional for states to require juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.” DOWN WITH THE COURT. Then what’s the point of waking up in the morning, now? “Monday’s decision left open the possibility that judges could sentence juveniles to life without parole in individual cases of murder, but said state laws cannot automatically impose such a sentence.” So they’re saying there’s a chance. Phew. Other non-Obamacare law stuff that our nine gods wasted their time on today include (a) money and (b) Mexicans, in Arizona.

Aside from the fact that four Supreme Court justices think children should be allowed to receive sentences of life in jail without parole, here’s today’s other big news.

  • Much of SB 1070, the cherished Arizona racism law, was thrown out: “The court ruled that Arizona cannot make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to fail to carry identification that says whether they are in the United States legally; cannot make it a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for a job; and cannot arrest someone based solely on the suspicion that the person is in this country illegally.” On the other hand, if the coppers have already nabbed you for jaywalking or smoking the reefer or whatever, “papers, please” still applies: “However, the court let stand the part of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain, if there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the person is unlawfully in the United States.” So remember, Mexitrons, if they ever catch you for something, put on your George H.W. Bush Halloween masks as usual.
  • Some had thought that the Court might have been “reconsidering” Citizens United by hearing a Montana campaign finance case. Ha ha ha, idiots. They were just hearing it to reinforce Citizens United, forever: “The Supreme Court on Monday effectively overturned a century-old Montana law that prohibited corporate spending on political races in the state, ruling 5-4 that the measure violates the First Amendment rights of companies to spend funds on elections.” It’ll be steak dinners tonight, for the corporations.

The health care reform decision will come on Thursday. Do any bloggers out there have some cocaine to share?

[AP, WaPo, WaPo]

About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined Wonkette.com in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell
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  1. Sassomatic

    Life sentence? In Florida it's legal just to execute any ol' kid you see and think might be up to something. As long as he's black, that is.

    1. Tundra Grifter

      It appears people have to be lucky to just make it into court. "Justice" seems to be handed out in the street.

  2. freakishlywrong

    That dried up old witch of a Governor better watch who's face she wags her finger in. .

    1. valgal2342

      Makes ya want to go out there and pretend to be some wing nut running for office screaming all the corporate platitudes and rake it in baby! Jerbs for everyone!

      1. scvirginia

        This is my new financial survival plan. Once I have enough I'll explain the joke…

    2. ChernobylSoup

      Here's the plan: When the middle class is eradicated, the corporations — having destroyed their customer base — will run out of money. Then we win!

  3. Tundra Grifter

    Mandatory sentences have filled our prisons with petty criminals – many are there for non-violent minor drug offenses.

    It's flat out unconstitutional for the legislative branch to dictate to the judicial branch, and if Mr. Obama really wants to enact fundamental change in his second term he can take this on. It will probably take a Constitutional Amendment.

  4. Fare la Volpe

    The Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional for states to require juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole


    They're compassionate fascists.

  5. sullivanst

    "Papers please" doesn't actually apply, it's still an open question. SCOTUS said it was inappropriate to strike down now, because nobody know what it actually means yet, but they explicitly held open the possibility of challenges to that section once AZ courts have said how it should be construed.

    1. Preferred Customer

      And Kennedy's opinion says, in essence, "hey, if AZ courts apply this statute in a way that is totally at variance with its plain language, it might be Constitutional." Which sounds crazy, but maybe he's just banking on Arizona courts not being able to read, which is probably a pretty good bet.

      1. sullivanst

        However the AZ courts apply this statute will be totally at variance with its plain language, since it's inherently contradictory ('do this thing that would be totally unconstitutional, in a totally constitutional way'… huh?)

  6. nounverb911

    Why does the Supreme Court hate capitalism? Just think of those poor private prisons in Louisiana and New Jersey.

  7. James Michael Curley

    This reverses the US Supreme Court Decision in 1969 of Curley vs The People where when the defendant was stopped for a jay walking charge and the Boston Copper said, "Papers please" that the defendant handed the officer a package of Zig Zags was insufficient probable cause to perform a full body search.

  8. TheGyrus

    The court doesn't actually give a shit about the kids being sent to prison for life, its just protecting the Judicial system's turf by saying that its the judges who gets to decide.

    1. sullivanst

      If I hadn't read the opinions and seen who voted where, I might be inclined to agree. But the ones who most fiercely defend the supreme right of Judges to do whatever the fuck they want no questions asked, all dissented. Kagan's opinion striking down mandatory life sentences for under-18s was actually all about the children.

  9. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    But we can still send them to debtors prison for not paying off their parents underwater mortgages, right?

  10. Tyrannically_Joe

    Also, Scalia had a fun dissent rant in favor of Arizona's racism law, which he read from the bench, and which seemed to make it clear that he doesn't know that the Supremacy Clause is part of the constitution. Also, at some point during this rant, he started ranting instead about Obama's executive order, which has nothing to do with Arizona's racism law.

    Paragon of judicial restraint, etc.

  11. randcoolcatdaddy

    Hmph. I guess the only way I'll get any free speech, healthcare, a tax break or to have any politician give me the time of day is to incorporate. Or become a rent boy.

  12. Tundra Grifter

    "…the court let stand the part of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain, if there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the person is unlawfully in the United States.”

    What is a "reasonable suspicion," other than "Driving While Brown?"

    1. sewollef

      Reasonable suspicion to me is, driving while drunk or fucked up, texting and being caught doing it… or blood dripping from the trunk.

      Meanwhile, reasonable suspicion to the coppers in AZ is none of those things, Katy.

  13. Serolf_Divad

    Here's a question: if corporations are people, can we fucking throw them in jail for not paying taxes? For poisoning our well-water? For Goddamn jay walking?

    Here's an answer: Bwahahahahaha! No, silly… corporations are only people in the sense of being allowed to fucking own you, in much the same way an infant owns the diapers he shits in while sucking on his mother's teat (his mother, here representing government contracts).

  14. Monsieur_Grumpe

    Isn't Montana one of those Red states? Get ready for a shit load of disgusting political ads suckers.

  15. SorosBot

    Glad to know that the Supreme Court (well, five ninths of it) is fiercely committed to protecting our fundamental democratic principal of One Dollar, One Vote.

  16. Joshua Norton

    Remember when the members of the SCOTUS were actual judges and not wingnut politicians appointed for life? It's getting to be a more blurry memory as years pass, I know.

  17. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    What about executing the developmentally disabled? Is that still totally cool?

    1. sullivanst

      Hasn't that been officially not-cool for a while now?

      Still totally cool with Scalia, Thomas and Alito, of course: the more state-sponsored murders the merrier with those bastards.

    2. sewollef

      Only if you're from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Albania or Hungary.

      Try that anywhere else. Anywhere. And you're toast my friend…

    3. Negropolis

      They actually banned that a few years ago. Surprisingly, this court is walking us back from our ridiculously punitive measures. They've already ruled a few times in ways that it looks like they are trying to dismantle capital punishment, actually.

  18. BaldarTFlagass

    Did the supremes overturn the part of the AZ law that forbids aliens from bursting out of your chest while you're trying to eat dinner?

  19. sullivanst

    Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts all, of course are completely OK with locking up teens and throwing away the key, forever, no questions asked, in "felony murder" cases where the teen in question did not kill or intend to kill, because freedumb.

    Scalia, Thomas and Alito all, of course were completely OK with sticking it to the brown man in Arizona, too, but Roberts decided that for once he might actually do the job of a Chief Justice.

    Roberts' good behavior lasted all of about 5 minutes, of course, because Citizens United. Breyer led the liberals in repeating that Citizens United was a crock of shit and subsequent events have proven what a complete and utter crock of shit it was, but Kennedy's head is still way too far up his ass for him to see that this shit is not normal, because all he sees is shit.

    1. prommie

      Roberts illegally adopted kids from Ireland by using a central american intermediary to do some "orphan laundering." Irish law does not allow the exportation of Irish kids, but the Roberts kids had some brief intermediate adoption and then Roberts adopted them in central america. So not only was he just a dick-chugging political hack o an unqualified fuckhole, he is also a fucking criminal who engaged in a conspiracy to break the law, just so he could adopt some white kids, cause god knows there is no shortage of brown ones needing parents right here in the USA. So fuck him to death, please.

      1. sullivanst

        What the hell? That sure makes me want to fuck him to death, right in the skull. That, and other reasons (e.g. Citizens United and such as)

      2. anniegetyerfun

        But if he had brown kids, he'd never be able to take them to Arizona! Because papers.

      3. James Michael Curley

        I never bothered to scope that out because it seemed too outrageous, but I would like to know more and I can be naive sometimes.

        1. prommie

          Well its not the kids fault and making an issue of it, I mean, even I can understand you don't want children to be collateral damage in a political fight, and this goes to their very legitimacy. But what the fuck, you know? How brazen, when so many have been kept off the court over undocumented nannies.

      4. YasserArraFeck

        Irish law does not allow the exportation of Irish kids
        Indeed, we wait until they're 18 and then we ship'em out in droves.

    2. Nothingisamiss

      WTF? I thought it was un-possible to hate this supreme court more.

      By thursday (health -reform -overturn -day) I'm hoping I have enough in me to get out of bed in the fucking morning.

      1. sullivanst

        The good news was that Scalia, Thomas and Alito were outvoted in 2 out of 3 cases, and the court usually takes much longer to admit error than has passed since Citizens United, so the Montana case should not have surprised anyone.

  20. BaldarTFlagass

    "It’ll be steak dinners tonight, for the corporations."

    I'd suspect veal and foie gras, as well as live crustaceans dropped in boiling water.

  21. prommie

    Ever since the conservative justices stole an election and installed a president with a blatantly unlawful decision, and got away with it, its almost as if they have been emboldened and have started to just plain enjoy giving democracy a big double-fingered "fuck you" just as often as they can!

    1. FakaktaSouth

      First thing we do is kill all the lawyers – this shit is has gone so far past ridiculous.

      1. prommie

        Its a constant daily struggle for me, the willpower it takes, you have no idea, to go to work every day, and NOT start killing lawyers.

          1. prommie

            Hey, you know, the mind never shuts off, I ponder strategy in the shower, I practice speechifying in the car, I wake up with new ideas, come on, thats all billable.

          2. James Michael Curley

            I don't mind that much because I used to do that. It's the practice of billing one task across multi-plaintiff, non-joined cases and when you add up all the .04 hours it comes to 1.28 hours to "Review adverse counsel correspondence requesting response to deposition scheduling dates." Then the whole cycle starts again in two months when defendant X's grandmother dies the week end before the depo.

      2. prommie

        It is tres fortunate for me, is it not, that I am no shit-eating whore of an injustice-justifying soulless lying sophistry-peddling fucking lawyer.

        1. FakaktaSouth

          what have you got against fucking now? that's a lovely word to throw in there with all that other horrid, horrid truth.

  22. Callyson

    The health care reform decision will come on Thursday.

    Thanks for the heads up. Better make a run to the liquor store for some liquid pain reliever before supplies start to run out.

    1. sewollef

      Costco has a rather nice Viognier on offer right now…. I bought a half-case load on Sunday, along with my usual dozen or so. Highly recommended.

      I'm prepped and ready for Thursday.

  23. Antispandex

    " The Supreme Court on Monday effectively overturned a century-old Montana law that prohibited corporate spending on political races in the state…."

    Thus PROVING that the conservatives are above all of that "100 years of precedent" nonsense! I'd say just about anything is up for grabs now! Break out those check books rich people! Woo Hooo!

  24. SayItWithWookies

    I am shocked — shocked — that the Supreme Court didn't admit it made a mistake and immediately reverse its own ruling in Citizens United — a general outcry from an aggrieved and shortchanged populace being exactly the sort of thing the lifetime appointments are designed to thwart. The sense of infallibility helps too, but we'll need a Constitutional amendment to really give that the oomph it deserves.

  25. anniegetyerfun

    On the other hand, if the coppers have already nabbed you for jaywalking or smoking the reefer or whatever, “papers, please” still applies: “However, the court let stand the part of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain, if there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the person is unlawfully in the United States.”

    So it's unconstitutional to make people carry papers proving that they are US citizens, unless it's not.

    1. sullivanst

      Federal law already requires non-citizens to carry identification and proof of status at all times.

      The part requiring people to produce it is potentially unconstitutional, but since that part of the law is basically inherently self-contradictory, SCOTUS declined to rule on it until AZ courts say what it actually means.

      1. anniegetyerfun

        But Federal Law doesn't require citizens to do so. So if my brown parents-in-law are going to Phoenix for a conference, they can be potentially stopped by police for something like jaywalking (fortunately, they probably wouldn't do this, but still) and if they didn't have their papers, could be detailed until the police straightened out the fact that they are US citizens, yes?

        1. sullivanst

          That would sound very much like an unconstitutional application of the kind that SCOTUS explicitly held out the possibility of striking down once the actual interpretation of that section becomes clear. As I said elsewhere here, section 2 essentially reads "do this totally unconstitutional thing, in a totally constitutional way", and the court is waiting to see which half of that is emphasized before ruling further.

          1. anniegetyerfun

            See, I'd much rather they simply strike it down right now, rather than waiting to see how many people will languish in jail cells for a few days because they aren't carrying a passport when the cops decided to pull them over for driving while brown.It's one thing to look for proof of citizenship once someone has been arrested for a crime. It's another to hold them on suspicion of a crime… that isn't an actual crime.

          2. sullivanst

            The court basically gave Arizona a warning: proceed with extreme caution, we're ready to slap you down again if you detain citizens for looking brown*.

            There are allowable interpretations of the law that are constitutional, even if Arizona has shown that it cannot be trusted to stick to those interpretations without being closely watched over by someone with a big stick. So, "go on, but remember we're watching closely, and we have a big stick", is not an unreasonable thing for the court to say. In fact, the "canon of constitutional avoidance" more or less compels the court not to strike at this time.

            * Translated into SCOTUS-speak, this came out as:

            "Detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns. … And it would disrupt the federal framework to put state officers in the position of holding aliens in custody for possible unlawful presence without federal direction and supervision. … The program put in place by Congress does not allow state or local officers to adopt this enforcement mechanism."

            Kennedy also brings up jaywalking as a specific example of where it would not be constitutional to prolong a stop in order to complete an immigration status check.

        2. SorosBot

          "they can be potentially stopped by police for something like jaywalking"

          Or something that police actually stop people for.

          1. SorosBot

            Seriously? That sounds nuts. Everybody jaywalks, all the time, and while it's technically illegal I've never heard of anyone getting ticketed for it; it's like driving one mile per hour over the speed limit.

          2. anniegetyerfun

            I kid you not:

            (linky ability broken today)

            It's the reason that 99% of the people in Seattle will stay put and wait for the walk signal even when there are no cars in a 30 block radius. The only difference between here and Germany is that we don't, as a society, disapprove of jaywalking. Oh, and also, I don't think German police can physically attack you if you argue with them about jaywalking, but Seattle PD loves that shit.

  26. fartknocker

    I won't be surprised if Mittens has a Excel pie chart that shows the percentage contribution of each of his large donors and where they will be sitting at the table during White House Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

    I sincerely hope Pro Publica or someone looks at some of these big donors because I'm pretty sure overseas interests are funding this election. I remember it happened in GWB2 1st election. With Citizens United vs. FEC, the whole thing smells like a goat's ass.

  27. MissTaken

    Call me silly, but I'm starting to get the impression the SCOTUS is pro-corporation, and not-so-pro-humans.

    1. anniegetyerfun

      Wait, are you suggesting that corporations are not living, breathing white human babies?

  28. dcjdjay

    I love reading Justice Eric Cartman's dissents. I can see his entire pudgy, hairy body undulate and heave and shudder with phony indignation as he goes "and that Obaaamer . . . ." The only reason the legal community trots out banalities about Scalia's so-called brilliance is because his written opinions for the majority tend to be brief, and when you're studying for the bar, brief is good. His dissents, however, are buffoonish. But then one only reads those for a good laugh.

  29. Guppy

    As I recall, bullshit Supreme Court decisions have been met with "yes, really" constitutional amendments, like 14 and 16. What do you think the odds are today?

  30. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    So, the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona's Immigration Law. Great. What's next? They'll say it is all right for a Kenyan to be President?

  31. ChernobylSoup

    OT: Local news just tweeted that there's an 87 year old woman driving around in a Honda, armed with a shotgun, and "possibly has dementia."

    1. James Michael Curley

      If she still has on her left blinker, that's no news story its a video of my last trip to Florida.

  32. sezme

    Do any bloggers out there have some cocaine to share?
    And what, pray tell, is wrong with commenter cocaine? Mr. Fancy Pants Newell with his elitest blogger cocaine. Sniff!

  33. chascates

    Presuming most illegal Hispanic immigrants are Catholic I can't understand how Scalia would object as his allegiance is more to the Vatican and Church than to the United States.

  34. rickmaci

    Woooo hooooo Montana. You learned today the judicial activism you looneytards all love to whine about when it is being applied to court rulings in favor of blacks and browns now also comes in Conservatard red.

  35. chascates

    'Nino' is a great friend of Arizona:
    Arizona bears the brunt of the country’s illegal immigration problem. Its citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their property, strain their social services, and even place their lives in jeopardy. Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, and indeed have recently shown that they are unwilling to do so. Thousands of Arizona’s estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants—including not just children but men and women under 30—are now assured immunity from enforcement, and will be able to compete openly with Arizona citizens for employment.

  36. clblabin

    Why don't they just tell us their fucking decision about the ACA? This isn't goddamn "Lost," and SCOTUS isn't supposed to operate on the principle of suspense.

  37. mrchokeys

    "…..should old acquaintance be forgot, keep your head out of plastic bags." The 1% wants English speaking help, with light skinned applicants given first consideration for indoor positions, and wishes to give the same perks to their lawyers, moneychangers, toadies and high-level enforcers. Cheer up, there are many things worse than "ending up cleaning toilets." Trust me….

  38. ttommyunger

    Totally sold-out scumbag Supreme Court Justices are people, my friend……Heh, heh, just kidding, of course they're not.

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