Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Law is the Loser

Ta-Nehisi Coates, "On The Killing Of Trayvon Martin By George Zimmerman." He thinks that, by the law, this was a reasonable decision, however troubling. These are derived from my first thoughts in response to Coates in his comments.

Meanwhile in Florida, Marissa Alexander, black, with a stalker ex-husband, has been sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at the man, who was violating a restraining order.

By the letter of law perhaps Coates is right. There will be time, later, to pour over the trial transcripts and the minutae of the law. I will be watching Frederick Leatherman's blog for more thoughts. Meantime, though, I think the popular intuitions about these two cases are more accurate than the measured legal thoughts. This is unjust, and there is little chance, in the short term, of seeing Florida law turned in the direction of justice.

I am struck by the inability of the US legal system to render justice. We see it constantly: in the failure to prosecute anyone for the looting of the banking system, in the abrogation of the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects," in the mainstreaming of torture, in the gutting, on narrow technical grounds, of the Voting Rights Act, in the sentencing of Alexander to 20 years while Zimmerman walks. We are in a legal regime as corrupt as that of 1856.

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