Te-Ping Chen reports: The case of a Beijing judge gunned down late last week — the latest in a slew of physical attacks against the profession — has triggered horror and introspection among China’s legal community, which is already facing problems of morale.
According to the Supreme People’s Court’s verified Weibo account, Ma Caiyun, 38, was shot and killed on Friday by two attackers. One of the attackers, the court said, was an individual whose post-divorce property settlement case had previously been heard by Ms. Ma. The duo killed themselves after the attack on Ms. Ma, the court said.
According to the Beijing police, the perpetrators also attacked several others, including a man married to one of the attackers’ ex-wives. The man died in the assault, police said, adding that the gun used in the attack was homemade.
China’s judges have faced violent assaults before, including physical beatings, knifings and more. Last September, a 43-year-old man involved in a Hubei labor dispute, unhappy with the verdict, stabbed four judges.
On social media, numerous judges and lawyers mourned and shared news of Ms. Ma’s death. While such postings were at first the subject of assiduous deletions by censors, on Sunday, the country’s highest court publicly confirmed her death. Read the rest of this entry »
A group of powerful legal scholars are trying to make an end run around the Constitution
The George Zimmerman saga came to an end last weekend when a jury of six Florida women found the neighborhood-watch captain not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. But even before the 15-month legal process had begun last year, the United Nations’ top human-rights official had rendered a guilty verdict—against Mr. Zimmerman and the entire U.S. judicial system.
“Justice must be done for the victim,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at an April 2012 press conference. “It’s not just this individual case. It calls into question the delivery of justice in all situations like this. . . . I will be awaiting an investigation and prosecution and trial and of course reparations for the victims concerned.”
Proponents call this movement “legal transnationalism,” and as Mr. Kyl writes in a recent Foreign Affairs magazine article (co-authored with Douglas Feith and John Fonte of the Hudson Institute), “the idea that a U.N. official can sit in judgment of the U.S.” is one of its main innovations. Transnationalists want to rewrite the laws of war, do away with the death penalty, restrict gun rights and much more—all without having to win popular majorities or heed American constitutional limits. And these advocates are making major strides under an Obama administration that is itself a hotbed of transnational legal thinking.
“Transnationalists are a group of people who are convinced they are right about important issues,” Mr. Kyl says as we sit down for a chat at the plush Washington office of the law firm Covington & Burling, where the 71-year-old Arizona Republican has served as an adviser since leaving the Senate in January. “But they are in too much of a hurry to mess with the difficulties of representative government to get their agenda adopted into law—or they know they can’t win democratically. So they look for a way around representative government.”
Mr. Kyl knows something about representative government. After a four-term stint in the House, he entered the Senate in 1995 and quickly emerged as a serious thinker on defense matters. In 1999, armed with his collegial, unassuming personality and substantive knowledge, he led Senate GOP opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The treaty’s ultimate goal, he charged at the time, was “total nuclear disarmament,” an effort by U.S. adversaries and global arms-controllers to defang America’s nuclear deterrent.