Vice-president Joe Biden says we should rally behind the Supreme Court nomination of Sotomayor because she will “have the back” of the police. Biden is a lawyer, a senator, and former chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, so he should know better than to pull a political stunt like that to curry favor with law enforcement groups. The Constitution places limits on the power of the police to search, detain, wiretap, imprison, and interrogate. The separation of powers principle means that judges must maintain their impartiality and “check” the police whenever they overstep their authority. To abdicate that responsibility and to “go along with the police” is to do away with our system of checks and balances.
As it happens, The New York Times has a story today about one Jeffrey Deskovic. He got caught up in a police investigation because he was “too distraught” over the rape and murder of his classmate. When there was no DNA match, prosecutors told the jury it didn’t really matter. Does Biden really want Supreme Court justices to come to the support of the state when habeas corpus petitions arrive on their desks and the police work is sloppy, weak, or worse?
On a related note, Cato adjunct scholar Harvey Silverglate fights another miscarriage of justice in Massachusetts.