Yegparian: Very Finite Wisdom

I thought judges were supposed to be wise, learned, sage. Clearly, at least two are not. These are the two who voted against Armenians and the right to recoup genocide losses.

Those who thrive on legalese mumbo-jumbo will be quick to argue that this was just a “procedural” ruling. The two questionable-conscience judges merely said that the federal government (in this case the executive branch) “preempts” that of any state in matters of foreign policy. Thus, since successive presidents have demonstrated fabulous linguistic guile and agility by not saying “genocide,” California can’t, through its legislation allowing recompense from companies who profited from Armenian blood, “establish” foreign policy by addressing the “genocide.” That’s it, no biggie, just a matter of procedure.

Even the dissenting judge viewed this through the procedural prism, seeing no conflict between the California statute in question and the feds’ prerogatives.

1,500,000 dead people don’t matter. Their stolen wealth doesn’t matter. Their destroyed cultural artifacts don’t matter. Their bereaved and insulted (through denial) progeny don’t matter. Just as long as sacrosanct “procedure” is maintained.

Remember, this is the product of a system of courts and “justice” that disallows the consideration of the genocide and anything related to human rights as grounds for understanding actions and meting out punishment accordingly (think Hampig Sassounian). Consider also the Supreme Court finding that money equals speech. Think also of the Rodney King mess where a man was brutally beaten by four police officers, who were then acquitted of any wrongdoing. I have intentionally mixed together various types of courts and judges to point out that hyper-reliance on procedure, without a smidgen of common sense, can lead to absurd results. We are the latest benefactors of that absurdity.

Of course, this is the decision of a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit (nine Western states and two territories), so the whole court might reverse this decision on appeal. The entire court consists of 29 positions for these federally appointed judges.

We could also ask our legislators to simply amend the language of the law to use the terms used by the last half-dozen presidents to avoid saying “genocide”: massacres, “Medz Yeghern,” and miscellaneous euphemisms. Then, we would not run afoul of the “preemption” doctrine. It would simply be a matter of parroting what has been said by the chief executives in their annual April non-statements. Though one has to wonder, Reagan did call it “genocide.” And, how many times need it be repeated? Why not use that as the point of reference?

But this is ridiculous. Genocide is being reduced to a petty trifle of a subject of arcane procedures. The pre-founding document of the U.S. that lays out the principles undergirding the birth of the country, the Declaration of Independence, starts: “We hold these truths to be self evident…” Those words should be brought to the minds of all those who sit in judgment of matters as grave as genocide so they won’t demean it with the same treatment as a petty squabble over some mercantile contract.

Call these judges—David Thompson and Dorothy Nelson are the pair who got it wrong—and give them a piece of your mind. Be sure to include that they should try to locate their consciences…

Here’s the contact info of the court’s website:

Cathy A. Catterson, Circuit and Court of Appeals Executive
Office of the Circuit Executive
U.S. Courts for the Ninth Circuit


Molly Dwyer, Clerk of Court
Office of the Clerk
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Both at:
P.O. Box 193939
San Francisco, CA 94119-3939
(415) 355-8800


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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