“These cases are devastating to children,” the district attorney said when explaining why he’d pursued the case, even “life-altering.” And spending five days behind bars isn’t? These boys certainly need better parenting and appropriate discipline. But treated as criminals?
Things haven’t always been this way. Until recent decades, an action had to meet two standards before it could be considered a crime. The law required that an individual must 1) cause or attempt to commit a wrongful act and 2) do so with some form of intent to commit that act.
However, the Supreme Court has taken steps to undermine these fundamental protections. In United States v. Dotterweich, Justice Frankfurter wrote that Americans now depend on “the good sense of prosecutors, the wise guidance of trial judges, and the ultimate judgment of juries” to determine what is and isn’t criminal conduct.
The legislative branch has handed much of its lawmaking power to bureaucrats, prosecutors, trial judges and jurors. But it violates the Constitution for lawmakers to cede their powers to other branches of government.
“Our reason is our law,” Milton wrote in “Paradise Lost.” And to be just, our laws must be reasonable. Too many Americans are being treated as criminals by an out-of-control criminal justice system that is abandoning the rule of reason. Justice demands we change that.