Supreme Court: Innocence is No Defense

by Stephan Kinsella on June 18, 2009

in Killer, Blog Posts

socialismus german postcard 1990Court Rules Convicts Have No Right to Test DNA reports that “The Supreme Court said Thursday that convicts have no constitutional right to test DNA evidence in hopes of proving their innocence long after they were found guilty of a crime.”

This should be no surprise. After all, ignorance of the law is no defense–this makes sense when law is restricted to malum in se; but it’s perverse when it applies to artificial crimes, malum prohibitum offenses (see also Mencken on this). And if the state can convict you of a malum prohibitum offense–one in which you are not really guilty of any real crime–then it should also be no surprise that actual innocence of committing even a genuine crime–malum in se–is not a defense.

What is a surprise is that we have libertarians who are still in favor of government–so called “minarchists”–and, worse, in favor of centralizing power to the feds and the Supreme Court in the hopes that the wise men will decree justice (see my posts Libertarian Centralists; Bolick on Judicial Activism; Objectivism and Federalism).

It should be clear by now that minarchism is just another form of statism (see my What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist). America was not some minarchist paradise: it was a flawed utopian experiment resulting from an illegal coup (see my The Institute for Justice on our Munificent Constitution). It was a society that condoned slavery, one of the worst evils ever, while establishing a constructivist new order based on a “rational, scientific” paper document and rejecting traditional, superior, unwritten, monarchist limits on state power, thus setting the world on the path of democracy and democratic tyranny, and all the evils of the 20th Century–WWI, WWII, the Holocaust, the Cold War, Communism, Naziism, Fascism, Great Depressions I and II–not to mention the illegal, immoral, murderous, centralizing War to Prevent Southern Independence (which some “libertarian” centralists for some reason support!) (see my When Did the Trouble Start?; Hoppe’s Murray N. Rothbard and the Ethics of Liberty).

Hoppe is right: “an institutionalized interference with or aggression against private property and private property claims.” (A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, p. 2; also see pp. 12, 7) The state is inherently socialistic; it’s organized, institutionalized crime, by its nature. So it’s no wonder that every state in history has been criminal, murderous, and tyrannical, and has grown in power; the idea of a minimal or just state is utter fantasy. To support any state, to support centralism, to regard the criminal state’s robed employees as real judges deciding on matters of justice is naive at best; and malevolent usually.

Update: Scott Horton points me to this chilling quote by a Judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals: “We can’t give new trials to everyone who establishes, after conviction, that they might be innocent. We would have no finality in the criminal justice system, and finality is important.” (Too bad I lost when I ran for this Court in 2002.)

This conservative-statist emphasis on the importance on “finality” reminds of the similar Objectivist view–see, e.g, Anarchy Reigns; and the “Randians and One-World Government” in Libertarian Centralists; and Roderick Long’s comments about the Objectivists’ belief in the need for a “final arbiter” in his excellent Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections.

[Cross-posted at LRC.]


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