ASSAULT ON THE CONSTITUTION -- (House of Representatives - July 16, 2008)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. POE. Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court Justices decide cases based upon the cold written record of proceedings at the trial court. Eight of our nine Justices have never tried a case before a jury. Only one has in some very limited way. For the most part, they have been isolated from the real world all of their lives. They have dwelt in legal theory and constitutional construction, reconstruction and constitutional destruction during their entire judicial careers. They've not heard a witness testify or a defendant plead his case or have had to empanel a jury or have had to listen to little girls testify about graphic, brutal sexual assault.
The Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, is not that complicated to most Americans, though we keep seeing the Star Chamber court of five Justices on the Supreme Court rule the opposite of the obvious meaning of the Constitution. The Supreme Court, especially recently, makes the Constitution, which is simple, complicated. They do so to twist and turn the Constitution to mean what they want it to mean.
At least five Justices follow the doctrine of former Chief Justice Charles Evans when he said arrogantly in 1935, ``We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what [we] the judges say it is.''
This is especially true in the case of Patrick Kennedy versus Louisiana. Here are the facts of that case: Patrick Kennedy sexually assaulted his 8-year-old daughter. So brutal was the attack that she nearly bled to death. She has had to have reconstructive surgery, and her life was only saved by the medical personnel who rescued her. Louisiana and a handful of other States have said that the death penalty is warranted when a person like Patrick Kennedy rapes little kids, especially little girls.
The Supreme Court, with Justice Kennedy writing the opinion, says that that just isn't fair to the criminal in this case. He overruled the will of the people of Louisiana, the legislature of Louisiana and the unanimous jury, who all found that Patrick Kennedy should be executed for his crime. Justice Kennedy reasoned that, since the victim lived, the defendant should not get the death penalty. However, there is no logic in that argument.
The victim, certainly, could have died. If medical people hadn't saved her life, she would have bled to death. She required reconstructive surgery that she will live with for the rest of her life. So the defendant gets a break: the right to live because the hand of God and the hand of the medical personnel saved the life of the victim.
What Justice Kennedy misses is that Louisiana punishes the act of the assault--raping little girls. That's why Louisiana has executed or has written the death penalty into its law. Whether the victim lives or dies should not be a requirement to face the death penalty in Louisiana. The act of child rape alone is dastardly enough to deserve the ultimate punishment.
But, in Justice Kennedy's mind, death must result or it is cruel and unusual punishment under the eighth amendment in our Bill of Rights. Kennedy says the trend is away from the death penalty for anything but murder cases. He is wrong. For these six States that have the death penalty for child rape, these statutes are relatively new, and even our Code of Military Justice now allows the death penalty for child rape if anyone in our military rapes someone on a post or on a base.
Justice Kennedy also says it's not civilized to execute Patrick Kennedy. It's a violation of the eighth amendment. It's just not moral. But what is civilized or moral about now sending Patrick Kennedy to prison? How is that justice to Kennedy or to the victim to let him live?
Now he will be in prison at taxpayer expense at $40,000 a year. He will receive free medical, free Internet. He will have no responsibility. He will receive free legal services. He will receive three hot meals a day and a place to stay as long as he shall live. Is that justice? I think not.
We don't promise that to anyone. We certainly don't promise that to crime victims, because they're basically on their own after a crime is committed. Only the worst people among us get that benefit of our society, and those are child rapists.
Justice Kennedy's opinion is his own moral judgment. His opinion is not any more valuable than my opinion or my next-door neighbor's opinion for that matter. The difference is his opinion is the only one that counts under our Constitution. His opinion, as Justice Evans says, is the Constitution whether we like it or not.
Justice Kennedy is wrong. As my friend Alton Richards, a ranch foreman, has said, ``Patrick Kennedy is wasting good air breathing.''
Victims are denied equal protection under the Constitution because Justices like Kennedy prefer to pander to child rapists rather than to give equal protection to little girls. The same Constitution that protects people like Kennedy should protect the rights of child victims.