You are right. But if it is a police officer or a similar official then there is a compelling duty to rescue. A firefighter who refuses to rescue occupants in a burning building in reasonable circumstances must be held liable if those occupants die.
There almost certainly would be some legal sanction. But it is a gray area.
For example, duty to rescue at sea is codified US law. It would be very hard to argue that a police officer encountering a critically hemorrhaging person is allowed to ignore that person.
Technically that is arguable under the law, but there would be some severe civil — and some creative criminal — sanctions.
So I was wrong. Manslaughter would not apply, but in the case of firefighters, sailors at sea, and the police there is a mixture of criminal and civil laws that penalize such inaction. (Also for a number of other categories.)
As for the woman who came to the aid of Scalise, there was a brutal crime being committed and a clear professional duty to rescue. If she refused to rescue because he was white, that might be considered a hate crime. In any case, prosecution would be invoking a number of codes, and a successful civil tort would follow.
But given there is no direct sanction for inaction a deeper question is raised here: Why would we as a society not want laws that compel people to help others if their lives are in danger? It’s disturbing to think that I could die just because somebody says, “hey, I don’t legally have to help that guy. I’m late for the game. Let him fucking die.”
That’s not a society I would choose to live in. Common law may not have a sufficient remedy.
But the question of the legal status of inaction in all cases is beside the point. My point was not to warn proponents of son of baldwin’s argument of important legal consequences. It was to morally condemn that position — especially in light of the numerous affirmations of that position.
We also have to think about the legal implications of letting someone die as a political statement. “That person was a privileged white Republican, and so deserved to die” — the explanation for non-action. It’s not clear how that position would play out legally. The result most likely would not be favorable for the defendant.
It is an interesting moral/legal problem. And though technically manslaughter is not the applicable statute, there would be a serious penalty. Prosecutors would find a way to penalize.
I did try to go back and read the original piece but couldn’t: