Saturday, January 30, 2010

Political steel-cage match

We knew there’d be a problem with the trial of Scott Roeder when we heard that Judge Warren Wilbert paid for an election ad in the Kansans for Life newsletter in 2008. Turns out he’s as competent as he is ethical. First he allows Roeder to premise his entire defense on the argument that Dr. Tiller needed killing, then, evidently realizing that there was no basis in law for such an argument, took away the jury’s option of convicting for voluntary manslaughter rather than first-degree murder. While that was (at last) the right decision legally, the whole judicial bait and switch undermined Roeder to the point where the conviction might well be, and probably should, overturned. He was allowed to base his whole defense on a strategy aimed at securing a manslaughter verdict, effectively putting on no defense against first degree. He might, for example, not have admitted that he had considered chopping off Tiller’s arms with a sword rather than killing him, but realized that he would still be able to teach others abortion procedures. This idiot judge gave Roeder a platform, but didn’t give him a fair trial.

Obama told the House Republicans, “They didn’t send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel-cage match to see who comes out alive.” Well, yeah, but only because we didn’t know that option was available. Put the “Political Steel-Cage Match To See Who Comes Out Alive Act of 2010” on the ballot and see what happens.

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