“Only in America.”


Pictured above: Bob Zarco reenacts the triumphant final scene from Rocky V.I kid I kid.

Actually he was just explaining how promoters turn boxers into “brands”:

“What Don King did with Mr. Mayorga was create a brand, and what the court did today is keep another promoter from stealing that brand,” said Robert Zarco, one of the attorneys.

It’s been a while, but is he talking about that old boxing film with Bogart and Rod Steiger?

Meanwhile, David highlights Justice Kennedy’s recent remarks on judicial “empathy”:

When asked if empathy has a place in judicial rulings at the highest levels, Kennedy said absolutely. He said prison sentences in the United States are eight times longer than in other Western countries for the same crimes.

“If lack of empathy means you close your eyes to the law’s decree, that’s just silly,” Kennedy said. “Capital defendants in a single windowless 12-by-8 cell for 20 years waiting for their sentence. You are not supposed to know this when you are a judge?”

I can’t believe we will have to endure yet another silly season so soon after the last one, where Senators and talking heads make repeated, impassioned, empty oaths of fealty to the “rule of law.”

It’s funny, I happen to be midway through Robert Hughes’ masterful account of the founding of Australia, The Fatal Shore.

The first part of the book looks at Georgian England and prevailing, Hobbesian attitudes toward the “criminal class” — specifically the need to kill, isolate or banish criminals, who were thought to be born that way and incapable of rehabilitation.Hughes writes of the excessively severe Georgian criminal code and the almost fetishistic devotion to the “rule of law” (at the expense of justice or reason):

Such legislation was part of the general tendency in eighteenth-century England: the growth of the Rule of Law (as distinct from any particular statute) into a supreme ideology, a form of religion which, it has since been argued, began to replace the waning moral power of the Church of England.. . . .

Why did the judges weep with the accused? Because both were bound — though not, of course, in equality of pain — to the law. This drama of immutable rules lay at the heart of the tremendous power that Law held over the English imagination. The judge simply surrendered to the imperative of the statutes, a course of action that absolved him of judicial murder, and that caused him to weep. His tears humbled him not before the men in the dock, which would have been unthinkable, but before the idea of Law itself. When the Royal Mercy intervened as it commonly did, transmuting the death penalty into exile on the other side of the world, the accused and their relatives could bless the intervening power of patronage while leaving the superior operations of Law unquestioned. The law was a disembodied entity, beyond class interest: the god in the codex. The judge was invested with its numen, as a priest was touched by sacerdotal power. But he could no more change the law than a clergyman could rewrite the Bible.

Think of this the next time you hear someone who knows better prattle on about how judges must — in every instance — mechanically apply the “rule of law,” as if it resides in the clouds waiting to be divined.