Thursday, July 17, 2014

No. 000053 The Absurdity Doctrine, here of the Post Editorial Board and the ACLU

Everyone has accepted that Charlie Dooley has overstayed his welcome as County Executive and should move along, everyone that is but Charlie Dooley who has been watching too many re-runs of Boss.

What is unfortunate is that his numerous opponents have lost trust in the electorate voting with common sense so they are, like hourly billing attorneys, leaving no stone unturned. 

This has lead to the farce and absurdity of the ACLU filing a Sunshine Act lawsuit to obtain an FBI report on how Edward Mueth's embezzlement of $3.4 million went undetected for as long as it did.

While the Editorial Board of the Post is generally slower than molasses, it wasted no time in joining this absurdity supporting the lawsuit.

But, Is the lawsuit a good idea?  

The lawsuit concedes that, in the hands of the Federal Government, the FBI report is beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act, the federal law which governs access to Federal Records.

Now, if our state courts hold that merely because an agency of the Federal Government shared a non-accessible Federal Record with a state or local office that such becomes accessible under Missouri's Sunshine Law, isn't the likely result that agencies of the Federal Government will stop sharing information with state and local offices?

Wouldn't that be the absurd result of the ACLU lawsuit? Access, one time, to one record!

In its bottomless pit of a lack of wisdom, the ACLU, joined by long time Dooley foe County Prosecuting Attorney  Robert McCulloch, defend their lawsuit on the grounds that the text of the Sunshine Law doesn't reflect such a common sense reading.

While I disagree, let's assume our Sunshine Law, as drafted, fails to exempt Federal Records, not otherwise subject to disclosure, from disclosure.

That is where The Absurdity Doctrine comes into play. 
[I] t is a venerable principle that a law will not be interpreted to produce absurd results. "The common sense of man approves the judgment mentioned by Puffendorf, that the Bolognian law which enacted 'that whoever drew blood in the streets should be punished with the utmost severity,' did not extend to the surgeon who opened the vein of a person that fell down in the street in a fit. The same common sense accepts the ruling, cited by Plowden, that the statute of 1st Edward II, which enacts that a prisoner who breaks prison shall be guilty of felony, does not extend to a prisoner who breaks out when the prison is on fire—for he is not to be hanged because he would not stay to be burnt."'
Now why the mention of The Absurdity Doctrine on such a narrow battle. Simply put, because most of the legislation passed by our legislature in the last two sessions have been intended to produce absurd results but if Democrats want to take advantage of the power of the doctrine they need to exercise self-restraint and avoid litigating to obtain a useless or absurd result.