Defining Punitive, Punishment, and Significant in the Justice System

903 WordsFeb 26, 20184 Pages
I think clearly we all have to define what we mean by “punish” and “punitive” and “significant.” These terms are subjective and Justices from different political persuasions may have differing opinions. Whether I agree with the outcome or not, it is my opinion that the dissenting Justices, Ginsberg, Breyer (both appointed by Pres. Clinton), and Stevens (appointed by Pres. Ford but known to have joined the more liberal Justices on issues) are correct, that is, the act was "ambiguous in intent and punitive in effect" and that its “retroactive application was incompatible with the Ex Post Facto Clause.” I feel as a lay person it is almost offensive for me to deem something unconstitutional – I leave that to the judicial system – but if pressed, for this particular article I just read, I would concur with Ginsberg, et al. Of course these Justices tend to be more liberal. Kennedy, however - who calls himself a libertarian but is clearly conservative, in my mind - reasoned that “the act was clearly intended as a civil, non-punitive means of identifying previous offenders for the protection of the public … and “found that the stigma, which could result from registration, did not render the act effectively punitive, since the dissemination of the registration information did not constitute the imposition of any significant affirmative disability or restraint.” So here we see that the Court felt the means to protect the public, and the lack of a “significant” affirmative
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