Monthly Archives: April 2012

A new candidate for the pantheon of crap jurisprudence

Today, in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Supreme Court held that detention officials may strip-search any person arrested for any reason, if that person is being held in the same room as other people. They offered as rationale only the notion that judges do not know how to run a jail, and shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of doing so. Given that, it would apparently be irresponsible to require any level of reasonable suspicion before a strip search is allowed.

I’d been waiting for this decision for a while, and when I heard the ruling I really hoped there was more to this case. I respect most of the conservative Justices (those in the majority here), particularly Roberts and Scalia, and I really wanted there to be some obscure legal justification that would validate that respect.

There isn’t. If there was, SCOTUSBlog’s incomparable Lyle Denniston would have found it.The majority abdicated its responsibility to enforce (or even, it seems, to read) the Fourth Amendment. There is no other word for this decision than “disgrace.” Justices Thomas, Alito, Scalia, Roberts, and most of all Kennedy, you should be ashamed.

The one bright spot I see in this particular case is that the ruling is amenable to legislative remedy–it articulates merely a constitutional permission, rather than a constitutional duty. Right-minded states may enact statutory prohibitions on unreasonable searches (i.e., searches that are not founded on any reasonable suspicion). The federal government, it seems, already follows a more rational set of rules. Florence may, therefore, end up being less destructive than other recent misapplications of the law (I refer to Citizens United, which appears to require remedy by constitutional amendment). It remains, however, a gross miscarriage of justice, and may be expected to take its place in the pantheon of the Court’s most absurd and embarrassing decisions.


On a thoroughly non-political note

Spartacus went wayyy downhill this season, and I’m not hopeful for the future. Basically, the reason is simple: it lost any semblance of the emotional reality and weight that it had, and turned into a (much more badass) 300 clone.

In the first season, and the prequel mini-season, the writers weren’t beholden to anything but an end point–eventually, the rebellion had to start. That meant that all the action had to be justified by characters’ motivations. In this season, they’re being led by the historical record, and it shows. All of the characters’ motivations are flimsy at best, and Spartacus (theoretically the protagonist) had no emotional arc whatsoever. Basically, the writing got bad because the writers stopped telling their story in favor of telling a quasi-historical one.

Of course, it doesn’t help that they lost Andy Whitfield, who seemed to really get Spartacus and had been through his emotional journey, or John Hannah–undoubtedly the best actor in the series, and often the character who best understood his own motivations. Next season looks to fall even further, without Peter Mensah, Nick Tarabay (the only actor in the series to stand his ground with Hannah), and Lucy Lawless. It’ll probably be better with a different main antagonist, because this season’s was really uninteresting, but I’m not hopeful.

I’ll keep watching, but it’s really disappointing to realize that one of my favorite still-running series has hit its peak.