Kevin James

Zimbabwe should not be making American law.

Neither, for that matter, should France, India, Mexico, Switzerland or any other country. Only America should be making laws for Americans.

Incredibly, not everyone agrees with this principle. Astonishingly, some of the people who do not agree are justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Fortunately, a solution to the problem is being proposed.

In 2005, the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment – which bans cruel and unusual punishment – prohibits the execution of murderers who committed their crimes before their eighteenth birthdays. As a former federal prosecutor, I disagreed with the ruling. The death penalty is appropriate in a few juvenile murder cases, and I trust juries to make the right decision. But worse than the high court’s result was its reasoning.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for a bare 5-4 majority, supported his decision by citing to the laws of other countries. He illogically referred to a treaty called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty the United States has never ratified. Justice Kennedy also mentioned statutes passed in the 1930s and ‘40s by the British Parliament. Funny, I thought one of the perks of the American Revolution was not having to listen to the British Parliament.

Justice Kennedy had been swayed by a growing liberal movement which argues that U.S. laws – including the Constitution itself – should match the laws of other, allegedly more enlightened countries. And, since Congressional Republicans won’t go along with the plan, leftist judges are the designated soldiers in this legal revolution.

One of the true believers is Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, who, in his desire to turn our country over to the “international community,” wrote one of the worst opinions I‘ve ever read. In a 1999 decision called Knight v. Florida, the Supreme Court declined to review the appeal of an inmate who argued that he had been on death row so long that the sentence was cruel and unusual. As you’ve probably guessed, the convict’s confinement was lengthy because he kept filing appeals!

Justice Breyer wanted to hear the case, and, to support his belief that lengthy death row imprisonment was unconstitutional, he cited any law he could get his hands on. He talked about Jamaican law; he riffed on the European Court of Human Rights; he dragged in the appellate courts of India. And, in what Justice Breyer must now consider to be an embarrassment, he cited the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe as an institution we should look to for constitutional guidance.

Kevin James

Kevin James began his professional career in 1988 as a lawyer with one of Los Angeles' largest law firms. Soon thereafter, Kevin spent more than 3 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in LA, and then more than 10 years as a litigator in high profile entertainment matters.

Be the first to read Kevin James’s column.
Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.
Sign up today