Jerry Brown, Constitutional Scofflaw

Reblogged from: The Atlantic

On Thursday, three federal judges again reminded the California governor that his failure to fix prison overcrowding is a continuing violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Whatever happened to Jerry Brown? You know, the Jerry Brown who once studied to be a Jesuit priest. The Jerry Brown who once fought like a wildcat against the entrenched and the powerful on behalf of the powerless and the dispossessed. The Jerry Brown who once traveled to India and worked with Mother Teresa at her Home for the Dying. The Jerry Brown that conservatives (and others) once derided as “Governor Moonbeam.” The Jerry Brown who never made it as a national political figure because he was considered too much of a softie on law and order, crime and punishment.

That Jerry Brown, now the governor of California, has morphed into a 21st century version of a 1950s Southern governor.* He is currently in “direct defiance” of a series of federal court orders, including one from the Supreme Court, ordering him at last to ease unconstitutional overcrowding in California’s prisons. And the tactics he and his lawyers have employed to evade their obligations to the inmates — and to the nation’s judges — are those employed by Southern governors when they chose to disobey federal commands to desegregate their public schools. Delay. Obfuscation. Interposition. It’s all here again, like a bad dream.

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