We often hear that criminals should not be released because the police violated a "technical" constitutional edict. The rules are too complicated, we hear, and brining people to justice should not turn on the splitting of hairs. We never hear this argument applied to criminal defendants, though.
No one ever says, "Sure, the guy technically violated the law, but to apply the law in these circumstances would be silly and unjust." Rather, we are told that rules are rules - the law is the law. Excusing even trial violations of the law can cause Rome to fall. Etc.
This principle is illustrated nicely in a case from Pennsylvania. A man was convicted of statutory rape for having consensual sex with someone who, in just a few hours, was legally able to consent to sex. Convicted on a technicality.
I certainly support statutory rape laws. Children should not have their youths misspent by adults. But convicting someone for conduct that, in just a few hours would be legal, is silly and unjust. Yet the court nonetheless affirms the conviction.
Strangely, I don't anticipate an outcry from conservative bloggers about convicting people on a technicality. I wonder why? Why is the Constitution subservient to positive law? When police conduct an illegal search, they are violating the Constitution itself. The man in this case (just barely) violated statutory law. Yet somehow we view violations of the latter as worse than of the former.
Reason sleeps. And Rome burns.