Monday, April 20, 2009



By : Mr. Samuel A. Alito, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court (2006-present) ; Former Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1990-2006); United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey (1987-1990); United States Department of Justice (1981-1987); Federal Prosecutor (1977-1981); Graduate, Yale Law School; Clear Moral Visionary; Charter Member, The Federalist Society; Founding Member, The Anti-Drug-Offender Institute of New Jersey; Board President, The Association of Justinian Lawyers for the Immediate Execution of Child Molesters Upon Suspicion Alone, Constitutional Qualms Notwithstanding, et alias honores.

Every day, I learn to love our American Republic more because Americans understand how to treat criminals. I have dedicated myself to public service since early adulthood, and the longer I live, the more I learn to respect our justice system. Put simply, American criminal law is great because it disrespects criminals—and criminals deserve no respect because they have banished themselves from society.

Criminals have no place in American society. We have an obligation to punish criminals severely. If individuals violate the ground rules that hold our society together, they deserve no grace from our State. In fact, our State has a duty to harshly punish criminals for several reasons. First, we want an orderly society. When the law harshly punishes criminals, we not only remove dangerous threats from our midst; we also send a clear message to other would-be lawbreakers that we will hunt them down and make them suffer. Second, we want a moral society. As an avowed Federalist, I believe the People have the right to enshrine their moral ideals in law. They have a right to criminally punish immoral vagabonds, ruffians and people who do not fit in. As a Federal judge, I respect the States. I refuse to interfere with States’ efforts to punish vicious thugs, porn peddlers, crack pushers and public urinators, except in cases in which the States do not punish conduct I find morally disgusting. In such cases, I do not support the States; rather, I punish criminals consistent with my own values as a Catholic, Republican, Yale-educated jurist in public service. In brief, American criminal law targets recalcitrant rebels who lost the right to live among us. We view criminals as dangers to be expunged. We have a great system. I am proud to serve it.

Yet there are Nations on earth that do not see the light. As a scholar, it is my duty to learn different perspectives about the law. Although America is the greatest country in the world because we believe in "freedom and the dignity of every life" (see State of the Union Speech of President George W. Bush, January 29, 2002), we can learn various new approaches to issues by studying other countries. Occasionally, Europe will devise a good idea about electronics or internet commerce. But in most cases, I have found that European ideas are dangerous, especially in legal and social fields. I read legal texts from many legal traditions. Thanks to my study, I have learned that American criminal law is definitely the best. European approaches to criminal law shocked me. And they should shock every American. Nonetheless, I am glad that I studied European law. In the end, I learned that there is no place like home—especially when it comes to dealing with criminals. Europeans forgive and forget. In America, we crucify and bury our scum. That’s the difference.

To illustrate, consider Germany’s Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch). In recent decades, Germany transformed from a National Socialist dictatorship into a liberal, federal republic that prizes self-determination, human dignity, social welfare and progressive thought. In so doing, it repealed harsh criminal laws and replaced them with mild, weak social “controls.” Through my extensive study, I learned that Germany prefers to tap criminals on the wrist rather than make them suffer. In so doing, the State disrespects morality, insults crime victims and lets wretched hooligans escape justice. In my view, this is a national disgrace. And the Germans should be ashamed of themselves, especially given their proud tradition of strict, effective penalties for even minor crimes (i.e., guillotine for distributing critical political leaflets; shooting in the back of the head for communist leanings, etc.).

To understand why German criminal law is so bad, we must uncover its stated principles. In his Introduction to the German Criminal Code, Dr. Thomas Weigend, a law professor at the University of Cologne, provides a good beginning: “When the law provides for the deprivation of liberty or property if certain rules are violated, it shows that society considers it absolutely necessary to adhere to these rules.” Einführung, Strafgesetzbuch, 45. Auflage (München: Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag 2008)(hereinafter “Introduction to the Criminal Code”) p. 9. I cannot argue with this assertion. In America, too, we believe that every society has a right to imprison or fine people who transgress against “extremely important” social rules. Dr. Weigend correctly points out that: “Every society needs an opportunity to express its moral disapproval for severe violations against the protected interests of others or the interests of the community.” Id. I could not agree more. Every society has both a right and a duty to condemn those who deviate from acceptable community standards. American communities must punish lawbreakers to remind everyone what is right and wrong.

Yet after a promising beginning, Dr. Weigend veers into dangerous territory. Concerning punishment objectives in the German system, he writes: “Criminal convictions…do not devalue the perpetrator's person,” and that criminal penalties serve the “notion that a convict should not be permanently excluded from society; rather, the State should make it easier for him to make his way back to a responsible life. In this sense, modern-day criminal law in the Social State of the German Constitution is unconditionally obligated to the principle of humanity.” Id.

This is utter nonsense. In America, we do not look with munificence on convicted criminals, nor do we accord them “humanity.” By deviating from fundamental social rules, criminals lose their right to be treated as citizens, let alone with humanity. They are no longer humans; they are criminals. Unlike the Germans, we believe that social miscreants should be permanently excluded from society; we reject wholeheartedly the idea that the State owes criminals the duty to “make it easier for them to make their way back to a responsible life.” In America, the State does not give anything to anyone, even to law-abiding citizens. If anything, the State takes away. It defies imagination to suggest that the State has an obligation to provide criminals a way “back to a responsible life.” The State does not even have an obligation to provide education or health care, let alone the “social means to get your life together.” In short, you only get one shot at life in America. If you mess it up, that’s your problem, even if you are not a criminal. The State does not help anyone find their way in life, let alone lawbreakers who trample on society. The State does not exist to help its citizens; it exists merely to provide a stable environment in which to do business. In short, I find it beyond absurd that Germany “obligates” itself to “humanity.” Criminals do not deserve such indulgences. They are the worst of the worst. If anything, they should be treated inhumanely, not humanely.

I hate criminals. It gets me really angry when I learn that foreign law treats them with respect. We have a duty as a civilized people to make criminals suffer for visiting harm upon our society. They do not belong among decent people. Criminals violate everything sacred about American life: Decency, hard work, thrift, sexual propriety, moral living, financial responsibility, honesty, goodness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, mercy and Christian caring. When criminals rape, kill, steal, defraud and defile, they do not care about the pain they inflict on their victims. Yet the Germans overlook that pain and slap these barbarians on the wrist like naughty Kindergarteners. In my view, this denigrates both crime victims and American values. But according to Dr. Weigend: “[T]he prosecution of criminal law in Germany is understood to be the task of the governmental community; its purpose is not to provide satisfaction to crime victims.” Introduction to the Criminal Code, p. 11. So the victim is voiceless? What about terrified baby girls who have been burned, raped, tortured, sodomized and traumatized? What about the mother of a 17-year-boy killed by brutal gang thugs? What about a man paralyzed by a drunk driver? Are you telling me that the law should overlook these people’s profound outrage against the criminals who destroyed their lives?

In my view, the law has a duty to listen to victims—and their loved ones—in order to assess the true impact of criminal conduct. Unlike the Germans, we care about people in America. The criminal law is not an abstract encounter between a perpetrator and cold, neutral laws; it is a superheated emotional crucible in which the community expresses its outrage, sorrow and desperation against antisocial monsters. In our law, we care about a mother’s anguish when she loses a daughter to a savage rapist-murderer. We care about a brother’s sadness and loss when a vicious thug kills his sibling in a fight. It is not enough to merely show that a killer intended to kill a victim. We want to hear about the misery, terror, pain, loss and anger in the victim’s family. We want to express our outrage against those who author tragedy in society, even if that outrage has nothing to do with the narrow circumstances surrounding the criminal act. Crime affects the entire community; in America, we are determined to make criminals suffer for the horrific results they inflict on everyone, not just the immediate victim. We revisit the full quantum of pain, horror and misery on criminals that they visit upon their victims. This is true justice, not weak German “resocialization.” In a word, we do not want criminals back in our society. We want them to rot and die in rancid cells after writhing in pain on cold, hard floors for several decades.

Yet the Germans do not understand this. Dr. Weigend writes more about “humanity:” “The principle of humanity…obligates the State to treat even those who have grossly violated the rules of peaceful human coexistence as citizens and brethren, as well as to make every effort to win them back into the community.” Introduction to the Criminal Code, p. 10. If “humanity” means treating criminals like “people” and “winning them back” into our midst, we do not want “humanity” here. Quite the contrary, we would rather be “inhumane” than offer “humanity” to criminals. In America, we believe in fair deals. In our “social contract,” you promise to behave. If you break your promise, you pay the price. You do not get a second chance. Forevermore, you are a “criminal,” not a “person.” The Germans call this “inhumane.” We call it “responsibility.” We do not believe it is difficult to live a normal, law-abiding life. All you need to do is refrain from raping, killing, stealing, lying, defrauding and acting badly. It is not difficult. Just be quiet, live normally and do not make mistakes. It is not brain surgery. The State does not owe an “obligation” to be “humane” to anyone. Nothing in the United States Constitution or any State Constitution requires an American State to be humane. States maintain roads and collect taxes. They imprison criminals and assess parking fines. They operate schools and mental clinics. They have no further obligation; and they certainly have no obligation to act “lovey-dovey” with convicted mass murderers, child rapists, thieves, scoundrels and Bernie Madoff-style fraud artists. In response to any German invitation to introduce “humanity” into American criminal law, I say: “Hell no, we won’t go.”

There is nothing wrong with American criminal law. After studying German criminal law, I am reassured in my belief that we have the best system on earth. We are getting along just fine, thank you very much. In fact, I believe that America is the greatest Nation on earth because we understand that criminals are garbage to be discarded, not “recyclables” to be “re-used.” We understand that criminals are not “regular people.” These are people who have broken the social contract and thus deserve worse treatment than others. Criminals hold nothing sacred; they do not want to reintegrate into our society. We have no desire to “win them back” or “resocialize” them. If anything, we want to eliminate them. And we want them to suffer the same pain they inflicted on their victims. As a Federalist, I am not opposed to State efforts to execute criminals who do not cause death. See Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. __ (2008)(Alito, J., dissenting, slip opinion at pp. 43-66). States have a right to decide whether conduct represents such a deviation from acceptable community standards that perpetrators deserve to die for it. Whether States decide to kill to jail criminals, the result is the same: We believe that criminals are worthless pieces of unwanted garbage. We do not try to “resocialize” garbage; we want to throw it away—permanently. This is how we view criminals in America. They are nothing but disgusting, worthless, nauseating trash; and States have a right to dispose of it as they see fit.

Of course, the Germans do not execute criminals because they want to “win them back” into society. They think they have “intrinsic worth” as human beings. See, e.g., Basic Law (Grundgesetz) Art. 1 ("The worth (or "dignity") of every human being is inviolable. It is the obligation of all governmental authority to respect and protect it."). That is their prerogative. All I can say is that Americans are smarter than Germans because we know where our garbage belongs. We do not bring garbage back into our living rooms. We toss it onto the trash heap or burn it. If something is worthless, you get rid of it. You do not keep it hanging around your house.

Americans will always face criticism. Europeans will always contend that forgiveness and “humanity” are better policies than draconian criminal penalties. They will even invoke Christianity to support their theories, including Jesus’ dictum: “How you treat the least of my brothers is how you treat me.” Matthew 25:40. I am a devout Christian and I fervently believe in Christ. Yet Christ’s words do not apply to criminals, because criminals are not “my brothers.” Moreover, criminals are not even people. They are lawbreakers. As such, different rules apply to them. In this sense, America faces no religious quandary when it mercilessly hunts down and punishes criminals. We can treat them as poorly as we wish without violating Christ’s word, because criminals are not “Christ’s brothers.”

I am reassured in my commitment to American criminal law. We view criminals as we should view them: As garbage to be discarded. Although we will always face criticism for what some perceive as repressiveness against criminals, we take refuge in the knowledge that we are right. America is dedicated to liberty, equality and justice for all. But as soon as you break the law, you have no right to anything but suffering and pain. You lose your worth and your status as a person. This is justice. We owe it to the victims. As a Supreme Court Justice, I will never deviate from these principles, no matter what the Constitution says. There are citizens and there are criminals. They are not the same. I will never treat them the same, either. In a word, I know what to do with my trash: I throw it away.

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