Wednesday, January 25, 2006

They're not what they seem

Many conservatives (and some liberals) mistakenly refer to Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as "strict constructionists" who abide by the strict letter of the highest law of the land, i.e. the Constitution of the United States. They are seen as protectors of the Tenth Amendment--which says the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states-- against big-government liberals. The facts, however, prove these contentions utterly false. Let's look at the most recent decision of the Roberts Court, its first major decision. Incidentally, this case was brought to my attention by a column by conservative George Will in Newsweek.

The Supreme Court upheld by a 6-3 vote the constitutionality of an Oregon law legalizing physician-assisted suicide. This law was passed by a large majority of the people of Oregon. The Court's decision was absolutely correct; it upheld the principles, as Will says, of "judicial modesty and deference to policies adapted democratically." It also upheld the original understanding of the Constitution, namely that the states retain all powers not delegated to the federal government. So who were the anti-federalist dissenters, you ask? Ginsburg and Breyer, right? No, Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts all dissented. They care nothing for the Tenth Amendment if it interfers with their personal agenda. As we saw in Bush v. Gore, Scalia and Thomas cast aside federalism when it's convenient for them to do so. They are hypocrites and frauds. I'll say it: they are judicial activists. Let's hear no more from the Republicans about the evils of "legislating from the bench." That's exactly what Scalia and Thomas did in this case. This is what we can expect from Alito, with his extra-constitutional theory of the unitary executive--that is, the claim that the president's executive power cannot be infringed upon by Congress or the courts. (Thanks to the New Republic's legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen for that explanation).

Bottom line here: there are no "orginalists,"strict constructionists," or "textualists" on the Supreme Court. There is plenty of hypocrisy, however, on the Court.

What's he hiding

Alright, my computer's back working after being down. I'll get right back in with a quick take. The Bush administration is covering up its misdeeds under the justification of protecting national security. To wit, Vice President Cheney --according to the staunchly rightist American Conservative--is refusing to turn over to the Senate Intelligence Committee the CIA brief of Sept 21 that flatly announced Saddam Hussein was not allied with Al-Qaeda (I have previously referred to this report in a previous post). Under the guise of "national security", Cheney is trying to suppress information that would be damaging to the White House. Of course, Cheney's pretense is, well, a pretense. This report was already well-known to the national press--though not to Congress. There is no justification for Cheney's stonewalling.

The article in the magazine (not available online) goes on to further state that Pat Roberts, the Republican lackey who chairs the Intelligence Committee, will work to "limit the political damage from his committee's investigation, but that much of the incriminating information will be leaked by the Democratic Senators." I say: Good for them, leak away. The American people deserve to know the truth about the liars in the White House.

In other news, see this editorial in the New Republic for a balanced assessment of Judge Alito. The article makes a good case for rejecting Alito without resorting to the demagoguery some of the Democratic Senators have used.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Time for filibuster

I rarely endorse using the filibuster. The U.S. Senate is already too undemocratic now. However, in the case of Judge Alito, the Democrats absolutely should filibuster. These hearings are a fraud. Alito won't answer any questions pertaining to his judicial philosophy. One example: Senator Schumer asked Alito if he stood by his 1985 opinion that abortion is not a Constitutional right. This question certainly deserved an honest answer. Alito chose not to answer the question. This is a man who wants to be on the most influential court in America for the rest of his life and he is dodging and weaving on the few questions he actually deigns to answer. Contrary to Alito's view of a unitary executive, the Senate clearly has the right under the advice and consent clause to know at least something of his judicial philosophy.

Also see this article from the Nation for more on Alito.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


This story will make you sick to your stomach. Apparently, our government, anxious for war, decided that actually protecting our soldiers from bodily harm was just not that important. I'll quote briefly from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent (emphasis added) of the Marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops.

This is outrageous and calls for a Congressional investigation immediately. I cannot see any reason, for God's sake, that our troops were denied armor that could have protected them from injury or death. I don't have anything else to say, I think this story speaks for itself.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

No to Sammy

I had not yet taken a position on Alito's confirmation, as I wanted to get all the facts in before opining (radical concept, I know). I believe there is enough information in for me to finally come to a conclusion, namely:NO. Alito's position on the Fourth Amendment, executive power, and the rights of the accused in death penalty cases have convinced me that he should not be confirmed. Alito, to me at least, is no conservative, but a radical right-winger unconcerned with the civil liberties of the American people. I believe he is correct, as I have stated before on this blog, that abortion is not a constitutional right. One issue alone does not a judge make, however. Being as the Bush administration is apparently drunk with power (e.g. NSA spying),this is no time for confirming a judge that will probably uphold abuses of executive power.

As pointed out in this article by Ruth Coniff Alito has a troubling authoritarian streak. One troubling example- Alito upheld a strip search of a ten year old girl and her mother who were found in the home of a suspected drug dealer. The warrant issued did not permit such a search. The majority of the judges on the panel took a contrary position.Nor was this case atypical. Alito apparently always sides with the police in criminal cases. This bias shows a lack of independent thought and good judgement. A true conservative is wary of unchecked power, whether from the police, the FBI, or the White House. I cannot support Alito's confirmation and will urge my U.S. Senators to vote against him.