This is what we have come to: Supreme Court justices citing Hollywood for constitutional principles:
Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge's passing remark - "Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra 'What would Jack Bauer do?' " - got the legal bulldog in Judge Scalia barking.
The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.
"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so.
"So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes."
Lest we forget, Scalia was one justice dead-set against looking to international law for guidance last year:
Justice Antonin Scalia chastised the "arrogance" of U.S. judges who seek to decide politically charged questions involving gay rights and the death penalty by citing international law..... Scalia bemoaned a recent trend on the high court in citing international opinion to support decisions interpreting the U.S. Constitution, including those decriminalizing gay sex and banning the execution of the mentally retarded.
Got that? Fictional super-heroes are perfectly reasonable to introduce into panel discussions about the legality of torture. International judicial opinions, on the other hand, are to be discarded as un-American.
Next up: How H.G. Wells' The Time Machine made irrelevant the Bush administration’s failure to provide for post-invasion Iraq.