Can Superheroes Testify in Costume?? || NerdSync


– [Scott] Superheroes have a surprisingly long and rich history with
court cases and criminal trials. There are the obvious connections, like Daredevil and She-Hulk,
who are both lawyers in the Marvel Universe, there are the countless stories
of superheroes on trial, like the Fantastic Four,
the Flash, Punisher, and Superman, quite a few times, actually. Then there are the rarer
cases, when the heroes are the prosecution, like Spider-Man suing J. Jonah Jameson for libel or when they are called in as witnesses, like the Flash, Green
Lantern, and Green Arrow when they testified
against their villains. But hold on, is it even
legal to testify in court in full costume, keeping
your identity a secret? One of the first questions you’re asked is to state your name. How do superheroes get around this? (upbeat music) Welcome to a Tie-In video. It’s audio only today because
I’m travelling right now, but I still wanted to
give you guys a video. So let’s talk about superheroes in court. There’s a clause in the sixth amendment of the United States Constitution that the accused shall enjoy
the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him. This is known as the confrontation clause, and is essentially the right to know who the defendant’s accusers are. So if superheroes testified in court, would this clause force them to reveal their secret identity and
or remove their masks? Luckily for the characters
of the DC Universe they have a fictional 12th
amendment on their side, which allows meta-humans to
wear their superhero costumes and give aliases in court in
order to protect themselves and their friends and loved ones. That seems like the simplest
way to write yourself out of this scenario, just
have a few laws in place that specifically help superheroes. Side note, the United States
has a real 12th amendment, but it has nothing to do with superheroes, instead it’s about a
change in how the president and vice president are elected. It used to be that electors
would vote for two people who they wanted to be president, and the candidate in first
place would become POTUS and the runner up would be the VP. The problem is that this led to a tie in the election of 1800
between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. And it was Alexander Hamilton
who convinced his fellow Federalists to vote for Jefferson, even though the two of them
never really agreed on anything. In Hamilton’s eyes, when all is said and all is done, Jefferson had beliefs, Burr had none. But OK, back to comics. If we assume that the
DC Universe introduced its 12 amendment at around the same time, then they must have
planned for meta-humans all the way back in the 1800’s. Characters like Max
Mercury or Miss Liberty may have helped create a cause for DC’s 12th amendment to be written up. And I can only assume
that it exploded in use once the big names like Superman, Batman, and Flash showed up on the scene. So that takes care of DC characters, but what about Marvel? – [Joel] Oh oh, Scott,
tag me in, tag me in, I’m great at this legal mumbo jumbo stuff, you know that. – [Scott] Do I hear the
smooth voice of Joel from Super Suits? – [Joel] Oh ho ho, you
better believe it’s me. And thanks for plugging
the name of the show. If I was to do it, I
would sound like a jerk. – [Scott] You have the floor, good sir. – [Joel] All righty then. So you see, the characters
in the Marvel Universe may not have a fictional
amendment to hide behind like the DC guys do,
but they might be able to get around the confrontation clause with the help of a real one. When they are asked to
give their names in court, superheroes could plead
the fifth amendment. Ah, and what a sweet amendment it is, a clause in which protects
one from self-incrimination. See, hypothetically if
Spider-Man was witness to a criminal trial, stating
his real name as Peter Parker could very well incriminate himself against the various crimes
he’s committed as Spidey. At the very least, we’ve
seen the web head trespass on private property on
a fairly regular basis. And I don’t know about
you, but I would personally love to see him get
punished for the events of One More Day. I mean, making a deal
with the devil, say what? Or those dance moves in Spider-Man 3, or like everything that happened
in Amazing Spider-Man 2, but I digress. – [Scott] Fair enough,
so the fifth amendment solves all of our problems then? – [Joel] Well, not exactly. Slow down a little. You see, pleading the
fifth only protects one from self-incriminating statements. You could try and argue
that costumes are a form of free speech protected
under the first amendment, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be regulated or restricted. That’s a little too complicated
to get into right now in this video, but honestly, there may be a much simpler
solution to this problem. – [Scott] Go on. – [Joel] You see, the
confrontation clause implies that the accused has the
absolute right to meet face to face with the
witness against them, but there have been
exceptions in the past, specifically exceptions to the clause are permitted if the
procedure was necessary to further an important public policy. Perhaps the way costumed
superheroes fight crime could fall under that. And it’s possible that a court could make a case specific exception
if the defendant is say a super villain who is known for acting violent pay
back on their accusers. Like if Spider-Man were to testify against Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, they’d probably let him
keep his secret identity because we all know what happened during the events of
stories like Civil War when Spidey unmasks himself to the world, only for Kingpin to
immediately send someone to kill him and his family, which resulted in the even bigger crime that is One More Day. Oh my God, why does it
keep coming back to this? Spider-Man making a deal with the devil, I will never let this go. – [Scott] OK but I’m
seeing a problem with this. To continue using Spider-Man as an example because he’s basically the only prominent Marvel hero with a secret identity, if he explains to the
judge that he doesn’t want to remove his mask or reveal his name because he’s concerned for
the safety of his family, is the judge just supposed
to be believe him? How would they even know
that Spidey has a family? More importantly, how would we know that it’s the real Spider-Man under his mask, and not just some impostor
trying to use the Spider-Man name to create a compelling testimony and falsely accuse someone? It’s an issue that J.
Jonah Jameson himself brings up when Spidey sues him for libel. Luckily, in the Marvel
Universe there exists an Avengers issue scanner
that can positively identify any member of the Avengers, even a reservist like Spider-Man, and verify their identity
through a federal database. But what about all the
heroes who aren’t Avengers? – [Joel] Psh, man, who
isn’t an Avenger these days? Have you seen it, there’s
like five Avengers books going on right now. Deadpool is an Avenger,
for crying out loud. – [Scott] That’s a fair point. What do you say we leave
it up to the viewers? – [Joel] You know what, Scott, that sounds like a really solid plan. So yeah, what do you guys
think about all this? Should superheroes be able to protect their secret identities in a court of law? If so, how can we
accurately determine whether a masked hero in the courtroom is truly who they say they are? Let me know your thoughts in
the comment section down below. Cape Joel out. – [Scott] Special thanks
to Joel for helping out with this episode. If you aren’t watching Super Suits, you’re really missing out
on some crazy, bizarre, and often funny comic book lawsuits. If you wanna catch up, click right here to binge watch the full play list. There are episodes about Batman, The Walking Dead, and even Doctor Strange. The link will also be in the description. And again, I am travelling right now, so this video is a
Tie-In to a future video that will be coming out on Moon Knight and the criminal justice system. Make sure you stick around for that. It’s gonna be super interesting. And make sure you hit that
big sexy subscribe button so you don’t miss out on
all the new videos we make for you every week that
explore the history, science, art, and philosophy
behind your favorite comic book superheroes. My name is Scott, reminding
you to read between the panels and grow smarter through comics. See ya.

David Anderson

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