Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Roberts Court

Building on the previous 5-4 decision here, the new ultra-conservative Roberts Court seems to be hitting its stride. Last week, the Court handed down a decision which bars judges from suppressing evidence collected in violation of the "knock and announce" rule, effectively eliminating the rule by removing the main incentive to comply with it, and hinting at the willingness of the Court to fulfill a long-standing yearning of ultra-conservatives to eliminate the Exclusionary Rule altogether. Evidence of this can be found in Scalia's majority opinion, as he dismisses the basic necessity of an Exclusionary Rule (the purpose of which is to deter unlawful behavior by police) by claiming that the exclusion of evidence has little or no deterrent effect.

The Court's decision here should confirm a commonly-held suspicion: that Scalia's supposed "textualism" is clearly malleable depending on whatever conservative itch he is trying to scratch. His holdings, in my experience of reading them, also have a tendency to contain rather shallow reasoning, as shown by his suggestion that this holding is justified based on a shaky presumption of an "increasing professionalism of police forces" around the country.

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