Supremes to Pot-Smoking Pain-Sufferers: Fuck You

Let me underscore the message in Julian Sanchez's post below about the Supreme Court ruling against the use of medical marijuana even in states that have passed laws legalizing the practice: This is a major fuck you to sick people who are in pain.

The Miami Herald carries a long version of the AP story on the 6-3 ruling. It includes snippets from Sandra Day O'Connor's dissent, which sounds pretty right-on:

"The states' core police powers have always included authority to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens," said O'Connor, who was joined in her dissent by two other states' rights advocates: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas.

The legal question presented a dilemma for the court's conservatives, who have pushed to broaden states' rights in recent years. They earlier invalidated federal laws dealing with gun possession near schools and violence against women on the grounds the activity was too local to justify federal intrusion.

O'Connor said she would have opposed California's medical marijuana law if she were a voter or a legislator. But she said the court was overreaching to endorse "making it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one's own home for one's own medicinal use."

Compare O'Connor's take to that of 85-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens, who tells the two defendants, Angel Raich and Diane Monson (suffering from a brain tumor and a degenerative spine disease, respectively), to stop and smell the democratic roses:

Stevens said there are other legal options for patients, "but perhaps even more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these (California women) may one day be heard in the halls of Congress."

Stevens' comments neatly ignore that the democratic process has in fact already been exercised--back in 1996, when California (and Arizona) passed laws legalizing medical marijuana. Perhaps the only heartening thing in the ruling was that generally staunch federalists Rehnquist and Thomas stuck to their legal guns here (especially since Thomas will be on the bench for a long time to come).

It goes without saying that the government's war on marijuana is idiotic; it goes double that the government's war on medical marijuana is beyond idiotic.

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  • ||

    This is sad. To tell a dying person they have the "democratic process" at thier disposal... well if they don't fucking die first. Why did'nt you just spit in thier face Steve?

  • ||

    I am speechless --- I think its fair to say that our only option to return to a free society may be to take up arms and start shooting judges and pols indescriminantly.

  • Adam||

    O'Connor said she would have opposed California's medical marijuana law if she were a voter or a legislator.

    Do these people think they're supposed to write opinions or editorials?

  • ||

    I have spent the last decade being an activist for medical mj and the eventual decrim of all mj use. This only gives me more resolve to say fuck you Supreme Court and to continue the work of getting more states to pass medical pot laws. How many states need to pass this type of law before the feds get it? A third? Half? Three quarters?

    There are thousands of us who refuse to give up.

  • ||

    We live in a country filled with enough people who hate marijuanna to keep these (federal and state) laws on the books. That is a sad but true fact. Everyone who feels that it should be legalized should get off their ass and agitate, myself included.

    The courts are not going to lead the way on this.

  • fyodor||

    Adam,

    I don't know if I understand your point, but you do realize Justice O'conner dissented? While I would disagree with Justice O'conner's opinion about medical marijuana laws, I heartily applaud her wisdom to not allow her opinion of the law to affect her perspective on the question of the law's constitutionality. I would that her bringing up her opinion of the law was her way of clarifying that the law's constitutionality was a separate issue from the law's wisdom and that it was only the former matter that was before the Court.

  • fyodor||

    "I would say that her bringing up her opinion of the law..."

  • fyodor||

    I respectfully disagree with Troy that the emergency nature of the case affects the constitutional questions at hand. That said, Stevens' reasoning is a cop-out of the worst sense. The implication (directly in contrast to the analysis of self-described conservative comment poster Eric) would contradict the entire concept of judicial review. After all, short of cancellation of elections, the democratic process is always an option! Since this is unlikely to be Stevens' goal, he is just using a convenient cop-out to reach a predetermined conclusion.

  • ||

    Way to go!
    Reminds me of this morning news report
    They are trying to make smoking (anything) illegal in ALL communities in Colorado
    I turned to my wife and said:

    �Lord Vader, the more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers�

    The tighter the proverbial yolk they continue to tighten around the peoples� necks, the more dissent and disrespect for REAL laws there will be.

    Laws like this only force people to break the law. It serves no purpose except to self destruction.

  • ||

    This only gives me more resolve to say fuck you Supreme Court and to continue the work of getting more states to pass medical pot laws.

    I support your efforts; but according to the majority, you can quit wasting your time trying to get more STATES to pass medical pot laws; the only laws that matter are Federal laws.

    Yeah, it's nice that states get to hold these little showpiece elections and pretend they have a reason for existing; but when it comes down to it, the only "democratic process" that COUNTS is the one that takes place in Congress. Apparently, state elections and state referenda are not considered "democratic process."

    So says the SCOTUS.

  • coyote||

    Check this out. Per CNN:

    "Lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department argued to the Supreme Court that homegrown marijuana represented interstate commerce, because the garden patch weed would affect "overall production" of the weed, much of it imported across American borders by well-financed, often violent drug gangs"

    Think about that for a minute. They are arguing that home-grown weed would "affect" the inter-state commerce of "violent drug gangs". How would it affect it? It would reduce their commerce! So the feds are claiming purview over home-grown pot because it would, what? Unfairly reduce the inter-state trade of violent drug gangs?

    More here

  • ||

    It just goes to show that the current powers to be don't give a flying fuck about people suffering:

    * The feds engaging in witch hunts against pain doctors.

    * Protecting microscopic "babies" at the expense of living, breathing sick people.

    * Now this shit.

    Nick, this is not about idiocy.. it's about massive collective insanity. These people are out of their fucking minds. And they're in charge.

  • Jim||

    "The courts are not going to lead the way on this."

    As rightly they should not. The purpose of courts is emphatically to say what the law is, not what it should be. The democratic process was trampled in this ruling - this is the very definition of judicial activism. I will be shocked, just shocked if Tom Delay doesn't bring this up when the Senate votes on Judge Janice Brown.

    Seriously, though, this is judicial activism and it goes to the heart of resurrecting the debate over Federalism, vis-�-vis Article 1, Section 8. This is a perfect example of why we need judges like Brown on the federal bench. We need judges who recognize that the powers of the federal government extend only as far as Art. 1, 8 casts them.

    Is this a debate that needs �resurrecting,� or has it been raging since 1787? It did indeed start in 1787, but it died in the late 1930s when FDR strong-armed the courts into approving the federal tyranny that was the New Deal. It has been inching its way out of the grave ever since 1980. Why else, pray tell, did we need a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol in 1919, but Congress could ban marijuana (and many other drugs) in 1970 with the legislation at issue here?

    http://jmanley.blogspot.com

  • ||

    I support your efforts; but according to the majority, you can quit wasting your time trying to get more STATES to pass medical pot laws; the only laws that matter are Federal laws.

    When more and more senators and congress persons come from states with med mj laws, maybe they will help to adjust federal laws to reflect their constituents voting patterns. I recognize its a big maybe, but so was this case.

  • MP||

    This kills in me any hope for a just decision in Kelo vs. New London.

  • Dave||

    coyote:

    This is precisely the reasoning used in the landmark 1942 case Wickard v. Filburn (317 U.S. 111). In Wickard, the High Court (oh, how very apropos!) decided that wheat grown on one's own land, for personal consumption, affected interstate commerce insofar as it would reduce Wickard's demand for wheat on the open market, and his personal growth and consumption was therefore subject to regulation.

    The Supreme Court, over the course of about the last hundred, maybe hundred-and-fifty years, has contorted that Constitution into positions that most people would pay good money to see a hooker do--if, of course, hookers were legal!

  • fyodor||

    We need judges who recognize that the powers of the federal government extend only as far as Art. 1, 8 casts them.

    And how does a judge exercise this recognition other than by way of "judicial activism?" Jim, you join Eric in misunderstanding this case altogether. The court decided not to overturn a federal law! How is that judicial activism? Restraining federal power requires judicial activism! Well, or at least judicial review. As long as such review is restricted to purely constitutional or legal issues (as opposed to judgesr taking it upon themselves toe decide the wisdom of a law), I wouldn't call it judicial activism myself.

  • fyodor||

    Dave,

    Point well taken (from you and all else who have expressed it). Yet I take coyote's point as well. My point is that since the goal of federal legislation in the case of marijuana prohibition is not to regulate prices, the absurdity of the argument that personal production and use constitutes (or even affects) interstate commerce has been wratcheted up a rather significant notch. Well, at least in comparison with Wickard. I don't doubt that the illogic of Wickard has been stretched in this extra-illogical way before this particular case.

  • ||

    Fuck agitating. Fuck shooting cogs in the machinery. Fuck working for change. I'm going to pull an Alec-Fucking-Baldwin (what he said he'd do, not what he did) and get the fuck out of fucking Dodge.

  • ||

    Where's GM to applaud this ruling and expound on how cancer patients who want relief from their suffering are being dangerous hyper-individualists?

  • John Tabin||

    Doesn't this ruling sort of cut Damon Root's feature in the new print Reason off at the knees? He argues that libertarians should split with conservatives on judges in pursuit of a broad reading of the due process clause. But there's a pretty strong correlation between jurists who read the due process clause broadly and those who read the commerce clause broadly.

  • ||

    libertarians should split with conservatives on judges in pursuit of a broad reading of the due process clause

    Probably, but neither the conservatives nor judges will notice.

  • ||

    I like how Justice Thomas bitch slapped the majority 6 in his dissent.

    Is there a good book on SOCTUS dissents claiming that the opposite side's judgement will bring the country to ruin?

  • ||

    So, after lobbying the statehouse to allow me a slightly wider array of choices with which to medicate myself, now I have to go lobby the feds? Fuck you Stevens, you jurassic turd.

    And yes, Fyodor, I'm with you on the "we wish to regulate a market that we've made illegal" angle.

    As an aside, it's interesting to see the AP call the dissenters "states' rights advocates". I thought those sorts were all Bull Connor/George Wallace segregationists. (yeah, I know, strawman)

  • ||

    I don't do the stuff myself, but two words spring to mind as I think of the plight of sick people who need this.

    Underground Railroad.

    If you know what I mean. My conscience doesn't allow me to stand around with my hands in my pockets if I would otherwise be in a position to get medicine to sick people. Thanks, SCOTUS; you can slap yourselves on the back; you created a potential dealer out of a chick who never, ever, not even once, ever got high.

  • ||

    Dracotaz,
    "Laws like this only force people to break the law. It serves no purpose except to self destruction."

    Amen

    Speedwell,
    "Thanks, SCOTUS; you can slap yourselves on the back; you created a potential dealer out of a chick who never, ever, not even once, ever got high"

    I'm in. If you can think of a way to do this without being caught let me know, I'll jump right on it.

    I've also never done any drugs ever. Nor will I. Nor would I ever have sold them, but then this came along, and I changed my mind.

  • ||

    Whether you consider this judicial activism comes down to a matter of definitions:

    It's indisputably a bad ruling if you stick to the notion of enumerated powers. And if you define ANY unconstitutional ruling as judicial activism then this is judicial activism. Fair enough.

    However, that's not the way that most of the current crop of complainers are using the term "judicial activism." Most of the current crop of complainers say that it's judicial activism when the judges wade into a controversial matter and substitute their own judgement for that of the legislature, especially when the Constitution doesn't give clear guidance.

    In that case, this ruling is NOT judicial activism, since it amounts to federal courts deferring to Congress on a controversial matter.

    Now, we can debate about what the "correct" meaning of the phrase "judicial activism" is. I don't like such debates. I'm perfectly happy to say that the ruling is what it is (an unconstitutional ruling that acquiesces to the will of Congress) and let others attach the labels.

    Finally, O'Connor's statement that she would have voted against the law even though she would not overturn it is why I am more convinced than ever that legalization will have to come from a Republican. No, it's not because O'Connor is a Republican. There are legalizers on both sides of the aisle, but the legalizers on each side are (sadly) all too rare.

    Rather, it's that legalization will have to come from somebody with anti-drug credentials for the same reason that "only Nixon could go to China." O'Connor clearly felt the need to stake out anti-drug credentials before coming down in favor of a measure to liberalize drug laws. Although a dissent doesn't need to justify anything to anybody, it says something about the dynamics of this issue.

  • ||


    Finally, O'Connor's statement that she would have voted against the law even though she would not overturn it is why I am more convinced than ever that legalization will have to come from a Republican. No, it's not because O'Connor is a Republican. There are legalizers on both sides of the aisle, but the legalizers on each side are (sadly) all too rare.


    Interestingly, Thoreau, I see it as her dropping a hint that the discussion did come up in their deliberations, and the 6 other justices acquiescing that on principle it's government overreach, but pragmatically, they decided to side with congress and the federal government.

    I see her dissent as being, a 'I'm holding to this on principle' sort of thing, implying that the 6 others voted the way they did, not because of their interpretation of the law, but because that's how they want things to be. When framed in such a manner, it's not surprising that Scalia voted the way he did. He's been known to rule based on his opinion rather than the law - as have them all for that matter (Thomas not as much as the others).

  • ||

    I'm perfectly happy to say that the ruling is what it is (an unconstitutional ruling that acquiesces to the will of Congress) and let others attach the labels.

    100% in agreement. They're not activists because they're yielding to the power of the legislature; at the same time, they're passing on the question of whether the legislature ought wield this power in the first place.

    To be fair: i doubt (but don't know) the briefs supporting the pro-pot folks directly challenged federal pre emptive power (since that's such an uphill battle I doubt many appellants directly issue challenges to it, if they hope for cert to be granted); and if they did not then we can't say SCOTUS passed on the question (if it wasn't presented to them).

  • fyodor||

    thoreau,

    I can fully appreciate your reluctance to engage in debates that revolve entirely around the meaning of a word or phrase. Nevertheless, if someone were to use "judicial activism" to refer to any Court decision at all with which he or she disagreed regardless of the reason for the disagreement, I would have to accuse that person of using the term in an essentially meaningless manner.

    That said, I thank you for in all other respects conferring. I wonder if the people making this charge at this blog are unusual or if this is some sort of company line being bandied about conservative circles, that proponents of judicial activism are getting their commeupance in this decision? Because if so, the charge is either meaningless rhetoric at best, or outright misrepresenation at worst.

    Oh, and since I didn't say so on that other thread dedicated such sentiments, CONGRATS!!

  • fyodor||

    metalgrid,

    You put forth an interesting theory on O'conner's words. I must admit that it's occurred to me that if two of the six who formed the majority had gone the other way, that two of the dissenters would have switched, too. That one way or another they were going to make the decision what it was, principle or constitutional law be damned. Ultimately, of course, who knows.

  • gaius marius||

    you're fighting a tough fight, mr fyodor. the smear campaign against the judiciary doing exactly what they are supposed to do is so advanced that its partisans rarely feel the need to make sense. how does one argue to uphold law in times of lawlessness?

    Where's GM to applaud this ruling and expound on how cancer patients who want relief from their suffering are being dangerous hyper-individualists?

    see june 6, 3:41pm. this was a defeat for the rule of law and a victory, ultimately, for irresponsibility -- not for the subject matter, which is totally ancillary imo, but for the damage done to the system of law and government.

  • ||

    The tighter the proverbial yolk they continue to tighten around the peoples� necks, the more dissent and disrespect for REAL laws there will be.

    Unless you're trying to say the Supremes have egg on their face, I think you mean yoke.

  • ||

    I can fully appreciate your reluctance to engage in debates that revolve entirely around the meaning of a word or phrase. Nevertheless, if someone were to use "judicial activism" to refer to any Court decision at all with which he or she disagreed regardless of the reason for the disagreement, I would have to accuse that person of using the term in an essentially meaningless manner.

    Fair enough.

    Personally, I have yet to hear of an unfree country with an aggressive judiciary. I'm not saying we should tolerate any and all bad rulings by judges, but my overall complaint with the judiciary is that it is too reluctant to clash with the other branches of government.

  • ||

    I only hope Thomas' dissent doesn't cost him his chance at chief justice. Obviously Scalia is unacceptable. Thomas has shown he understands the role of the court, and of govt in general. Too bad Renquist has overseen the biggest pussy court in our history. From the unclear election ruling to the standing issue on the pledge case and the "few minute dog search" rule, I can't think of a bigger bunch of ass coverers ever.

  • ||

    Could this ruling open the door to a regulated legal mj market?

  • ||

    LOL. Just admit you losers just want to smoke dope.

  • jimmy||

    what about non-medical marijuana? have we so forgotten the basic liberty principle here that we can only focus on "pot-smoking pain-sufferers?" and i hate to rain on anyone's parade, but the whole medical thing is a bit of a farce anyway. i smoked tons of pot in my youth and it was a marginal analgesic at best. the whole thing sounds more like liberal self-victimization. we should legalize pot as an end in itself, not becuase some poor cancer patient thinks the government should grow it for him.

  • ||

    Hey Mike, why don't you just admit you are a bigot and licker of the jack boots and get over it. LOL

  • ||

    Here is my take on it;

    Where does one adult who smokes or drinks get the right to use force of law, to stop another independant adult from smoking pot?

    Start from there and then go to where the fuck does some one who doesn't drink or smoke get the right to decide what vices the masses can partake of? What is the standard of damage that the vice does?

  • ||

    kwais:

    Exactly. Dead on. And what's even more fucked up is that alcohol is technically a poison. If you drink too much you fucking die. If you smoke too much grass all you get is a goddamned headache.

  • Dave||

    As a follow-up, I suggest reading this article on the sociology of prohibition. You'll find it...interesting...to see how the original 1937 Marihuana Tax Act passed. And more than a little disturbing.

    The author also points out--pretty clearly--how, just like gun control, drug control isn't about drugs, it's about control.

  • ||

    Kwais said: "I'm in. If you can think of a way to do this without being caught let me know, I'll jump right on it."

    I can't think of a way to do it without being caught. But reflect that neither of us can think of a way to live and work in this country without being "caught" innocently doing something illegal at some point. To hell with them and their stupidity already.

    I'm thinking of bringing this up at a Quaker meeting sometime.

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