The “What would Jack Bauer do?” argument gets used, in all seriousness, by a justice of the US Supreme Court:
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.”
Judge Mosley told the panel that rights-respecting governments can’t take part in torture or encourage it in any way. “The agents of the state, and the agents of the Canadian state, under the Criminal Code, are very much subject to severe criminal sanction if they would engage in torture,” he said.
But the U.S. Supreme Court judge choked on that position, saying it would be folly for laws to dictate that counterterrorism agents must wear kid gloves all the time.
We’ll all be wanting to get into that handcart now.