There used to be a time in the United States when being convicted of a felony — especially the heinous crime of murder — meant that a person was also forced to surrender many of his or her constitutional rights, having broken the rules required of a civil society. There were always notable exceptions, such as the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. But aside from that, courts were notoriously deferential to victims, to taxpayers, to society at large and to civil order.

As we move further into the 21st century and farther away from our constitutional roots, those long-observed precedents are slowing eroding, as evidenced recently by a case in California. There, a federal judge in San Francisco has ordered that California taxpayers must provide a transgender inmate with sex reassignment surgery, claiming that to withhold such a procedure would somehow violate the convict’s constitutional rights. MORE