Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Constitution & Punishing Innocents.

Senator Leahy is trying to get Judge Roberts to say the Constitution does or does not bar the punishment of innocents. Specifically the conversation revolves around the death penalty.

The Fifth Amendment states
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; [emphasis added] nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Source: The Bill of Rights

Now, nowhere do I see a prohibition of punishing the innocent. In fact, the word we use when determining the innocence or guilt of a suspect is reasonable doubt and that is as good as it can be in our imperfect world.

Before you get all worked up, the idea we have as a culture and a nation is the innocent are not to be punished. Surely the founding fathers did not intend to setup a system that punishes the innocent, but the problem is this imperfect world of ours. This is why they say nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. My guess is they imagined it would happen from time to time the innocent would be falsely accused and punished, and they set things up to minimize the chance the innocent are wrongly punished.

No, the constitution can only discourage and give the suspected a good chance to prove their innocence.

Of course Judge Roberts can not say as much in the hearing, but I am not under the microscope.