Bench Memos

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Feeble, Laughable PFAW—Part II


Responding to the lies that the Left will sling at John Roberts would be a full-time job for an army of lawyers. Here’s my account of the first judicial opinion (out of a grand total of five) that I’ve looked at in PFAW’s hit job:

PFAW attacks Judge Roberts for his unanimous opinion in Hedgepeth. D.C. had in place a policy that provided that minors who committed offenses in Metrorail stations be taken into custody. D.C. did not have a similar policy for adults. D.C. police applied the policy to a 12-year-old girl who ate a french fry in a Metro station. In a straightforward application of Supreme Court precedent, the district court, which described the policy as “foolish,” ruled that it did not violate the Constitution, and all three appellate judges agreed. (D.C., incidentally, had changed the policy even before the case was filed.)

Judge Roberts’s opinion in this case clearly illustrates that he understands the role of a judge. PFAW’s highly selective quotations fail to include the following:

“The question before us … is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.”

“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.”

PFAW gives the reader the mistaken impression that Roberts states that the police merely made the child cry. But as Roberts states in the opening paragraph (and elaborates elsewhere), the child “was booked fingerprinted, and detained until released to her mother some three hours later—all for eating a French fry in a Metrorail station. The child was frightened, embarrassed, and crying through the ordeal.”

Thus, PFAW’s charge that “Roberts appeared dismissive of the serious concerns” raised by the case is simply ridiculous.


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