'Supreme Court has made it a jungle out there'

Art Buchwald

June 24, 1992|By Art Buchwald

I AM NOT one of those people who is always criticizing a Supreme Court decision -- but every once in a while I wonder if the justices' elevators really go to the top floor.

The court's recent 6-to-3 decision on kidnaping is a case in point. The Supremes ruled it was legal for the United States to kidnap someone in a foreign country and bring him or her back for trial without the approval of the nation whose borders have been violated.

As a hard-liner I am not disturbed about the U.S. violating international law, particularly if the person kidnaped is guilty. What troubles me is that the people doing the kidnaping are prone to make mistakes, and you may wind up with a number of foreigners being snatched who have nothing to do with any American crimes.

I will give you an example.

"Ricardo Alvarez, we are American agents and we have been ordered to drug you, put you in chains and drag you back to the United States to stand trial for murder, using a false credit card at a Taco Hut and speeding in Arizona."

"My name is not Alvarez. It is Alacazar."

"Alvarez, Alacazar -- they both have one 'l.' Trust us. We don't make mistakes."

"But you have the wrong man. Alvarez lives in the next block. He weighs 290 pounds. I weigh 140 pounds."

"It isn't for us to decide if we have the wrong man or not. When we get you over the border we will assign you a lawyer, and it will be his job to prove you are a victim of mistaken identity. It says right here on our kidnap authorization slip that our man lives at 234 Simon Bolivar Lane. That is this house."

"But this is 234 Simon Bolivar Boulevard. Are you going to take me from family?"

"You should have thought of that before you illegally shipped 300 pounds of fireworks to your cousin on Long Island for his daughter's wedding."

"By what authority can you kidnap me from my own country?"

"By authority of the Supreme Court of the United States, whose justices have declared that no one is safe from the long arm of the law. Come with us, Mr. Alvarez."

"Alacazar, my name is Alacazar."

"If you're going to be picky-picky about your name, we're not going to let you plea-bargain for a lighter sentence."

Although this type of behavior bothers me, what really has me distressed is that if the Supremes say we can kidnap foreign citizens, what is to prevent foreign agents from snatching ours?

"Mr. Smith, we are from the Mexican secret police. Please step into this coffin so we can take you back to Guadalajara for trial as a war criminal."

"I have never been to Guadalajara."

"Several people have identified you as Ivan the Terrible."

"My name isn't Ivan."

"Alacazar's name wasn't Alvarez, either, yet they took him anyway."

"But I am an American citizen, and we're in Santa Monica, Calif."

"We can't help it. Your Supreme Court has made it a jungle out there."

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