no foul, no harm

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 29, 2010

A Kansas jury needed only 40 minutes to deliberate before delivering a guilty verdict in the murder trial of Scott Roeder, who killed the infamous later-term abortion specialist George Tiller. 

There was never any doubt that Roeder was the man who shot Tiller in the head last May. Roeder even admitted that he had planned the killing. The defendant's lawyers argued only that the criminal charge should be something short of murder-- voluntary manslaughter, perhaps-- because Roeder said that he had killed Roeder in order to save others-- unborn children-- from harm. 

That argument is undermined by the fact that at the actual time of the shooting, Tiller was participating in Sunday services at his Lutheran parish church. But the judge who presided at the trial instructed the jury to disregard the "necessity defense" for another reason as well. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Judge Wilbert said that didn't apply in this case because Dr. Tiller posed no imminent threat to anyone as he stood in his church and because his abortion practice was legal. 

A CNN account provides the judge's actual words:

There is no imminence of danger on a Sunday morning in the back of a church, let alone any unlawful conduct, given that what Tiller did at his clinic Monday through Friday is lawful in Kansas. 

While in church he wasn't a threat; that argument is unanswerable. There was no need, then, for the judge to add a second argument. But he did: He said that abortion cannot be a threat to anyone because it is legal. 

If it's legal, it's not harmful. Think about how that argument applies to:

  • the recreational use of over-the-counter drugs
  • the release of toxic chemicals into the environment, in ways not explicitly banned by existing legislation
  • cigarette smoking
  • the "securitization" of high-risk mortgages
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  • Posted by: - Jan. 30, 2010 8:56 PM ET USA

    I suspect the judge appended his statement to preclude someone's regarding his decision was a sanction of assassination as long as it was committed at the clinic.

  • Posted by: Eagle - Jan. 30, 2010 9:29 AM ET USA

    Legally, the Judge was correct. There is no law in the U.S. which authorizes domestic non-military assassination, whether by law enforcement or citizens. The alternative is chaos. That said, the focus for believers must remain on changing the law and evangelization of individuals and the culture. Most of the German people, when shown the horrors of the Nazi genocide after WWII, were horrified and appalled. Hopefully, it won't take a tragedy like losing a War to bring that cultural realization.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 29, 2010 9:55 PM ET USA

    If memory serves, at one time in America slavery was legal and I believe in Germany exterminating the Jews was legal. I suppose that neither Adolf Hitler nor Josef Stalin were imminent threats on any given Sunday in Europe. I guess Churchill saw things differently, which is why Churchill is a statesmea, while Judge Wilbert writes a peon to the State.

  • Posted by: Ben Dunlap - Jan. 29, 2010 7:46 PM ET USA

    "He said that abortion cannot be a threat to anyone because it is legal". I don't see that in his actual words, as quoted here. His use of the word "unlawful" probably refers explicitly to KS Statutes 21-3211 through 21-3214, which specify, among other things, that the use of force is only justified against an "unlawful" threat. Seems a bit of a strain to read more into this than that he was showing, as is customary, that the defense's argument fell short on multiple legal grounds.