May 23, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized

Scalia’s Greatest Hits in Brown v. Plata

Share Button


In Brown v. Plata, Nino was in Boumedienne form with some great quotes:

  • “Three years of law school and familiarity with pertinent Supreme Court precedents give no insight whatsoever into the management of social institutions”
  • “Most of [prisoners ordered released] will not be prisoners with medical conditions or severe mental illness; and many will undoubtedly be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym.”
  • On the 9th Circuit’s reliability- “Recognizing that habeas relief must be granted sparingly, we have reversed the Ninth Circuit’s erroneous grant of habeas relief to individual California prisoners four times this Term alone.”
  • “So perhaps the coda is nothing more than a ceremonial washing of the hands—making it clear for all to see, that if the terrible things sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order do happen, they will be none of this Court’s responsibility. After all, did we not want, and indeed even suggest, something better?”
  • “But the idea that the three District Judges in this case relied solely on the credibility of the testifying expert witnesses is fanciful. Of course they were relying largely on their own beliefs about penology and recidivism. And of course different district judges, of different policy views, would have “found” that rehabilitation would not work and that releasing prisoners would increase the crime rate. I am not saying that the District Judges rendered their factual findings in bad faith. I am saying that it is impossible for judges to make “factual findings” without inserting their own policy judgments, when the factual findings are policy judgments.”

Justice Alito had this grim closing, that evoked Scalia’s Boumedienne dissent

In largely sustaining the decision below, the majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California. Before putting public safety at risk, every reasonable precaution should be taken. The decision below should be reversed, and the case should be remanded for this to be done. I fear that today’s decision, like prior prisoner release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims. I hope that I am wrong. In a few years, we will see.

Share Button
Print Friendly