Bench Memos

Supreme Court Slams Rosemary Barkett

“Can an officer take actions that place a fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death in order to stop the motorist’s flight from endangering the lives of innocent bystanders?”  In today’s ruling in Scott v. Harris, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 8 to 1 (with Justice Stevens in dissent), answers that question in the affirmative and reverses the ruling below by an Eleventh Circuit panel.  Regular readers of “This Week in Liberal Judicial Activism” will not be surprised to learn that the Eleventh Circuit opinion was written by hyper-activist judge Rosemary Barkett

 

Orin Kerr (who served as co-counsel for the winning side) explained at length here that Barkett’s description of the facts, as shown in a police video, while not “technically inaccurate,” was so “obviously incomplete” as to be highly distorted.  Justice Scalia’s opinion for the Court likewise faults Barkett’s account:  “[R]eading the lower court’s opinion, one gets the impression that respondent, rather than fleeing from police, was attempting to pass his driving test.”  And:  “Far from being the cautious and controlled driver the lower court depicts, what we see on the video more closely resembles a Hollywood-style car chase of the most frightening sort, placing police officers and innocent bystanders alike at great risk of serious injury.”  In a footnote, Scalia, noting one fact that Barkett got right—that the police officer’s ramming of the fleeing motorist’s car was not threatening any other vehicles or pedestrians—offers Barkett this backhanded praise:  “This is not to say that each and every factual statement made by the Court of Appeals is inaccurate.”

 

Inspired by Scalia’s comment, I offer my most favorable possible assessment of Barkett’s judicial career:  I would not say that each and every ruling that she has made is lawless.

Most Popular

U.S.

Political Theatrics

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including all you whippersnappers under the age of 50), I’m writing this from somewhere over the Atlantic. At least I hope that’s ... Read More
World

The Real Reasons American Evangelicals Support Israel

It never fails. Whenever a Republican president makes a controversial or contentious move to support Israel -- such as moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, or yesterday’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights -- you’ll see various “explainers” and other stories that purport ... Read More