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Dahlia Lithwick's Roberts smear



As if she needed to epitomize my critique, Dahlia Lithwick (Jul. 8) substitutes easy snark for legal analysis regarding Judge Roberts' decision in the famous Hedgepeth v. WMATA "french-fry case":

[Judge John Roberts] doesn't appear to be crusading for a wholesale national retreat to the good old days of executing miscreant 'tweens (although he seemingly finds arresting them for French-fry possession to be a cornerstone in good parent-child relations).

In fact, Roberts wrote, in a masterful display of the correct understanding of the role of the judiciary:

No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation. A twelve-year-old girl was arrested, searched, and handcuffed. Her shoelaces were removed, and she was transported in the windowless rear compartment of a police vehicle to a juvenile processing center, where she was booked, fingerprinted, and detained until released to her mother some three hours later � all for eating a single french fry in a Metrorail station. The child was frightened, embarrassed, and crying throughout the ordeal. The district court described the policies that led to her arrest as "foolish," and indeed the policies were changed after those responsible endured the sort of publicity reserved for adults who make young girls cry. The question before us, however, is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. Like the district court, we conclude that they did not, and accordingly we affirm.

[...] The district court had and we too may have thoughts on the wisdom of this policy choice—it is far from clear that the gains in certainty of notification are worth the youthful trauma and tears—but it is not our place to second-guess such legislative judgments. See City of New Orleans v. Duke, 427 U.S. 297, 303 (1976) (per curiam) (rational basis review does not authorize the judiciary to sit as a "superlegislature").

William "Beldar" Dyer calls Lithwick on it, and proceeds to tear apart Lithwick's questionable excuse.

 

 


Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.