The Executive versus the Courts

If you read nothing else of this politically slanted entry, please read at least one line. I feel really strongly about it. Read it and go on with the rest of your life with my blessings.

Don’t listen to conservative pundits who insist the judiciary is overstepping it’s bounds… reigning in the possible excesses of another branch of government is by design, right smack in the middle of it’s well established and intended “bounds.”

Yep, you guessed it… to employ a football metaphor; this entry serves no other purpose than to “pile on.”

In previous entries I have suggested that the media should (and does) have a right to report things that COULD be considered a “state secret,” when in so doing it reveals government abuses of power – particularly when there is a likelihood that the abuse of power represents action contrary to law.

Courtesy of Your Constitution of the United States, the concept of “the separation of powers,” and the Federal Judiciary, it appears the score stands at: Media: 2, Office of the Executive: 0.

And speaking of the courts… funny thing about Federal Courts… all of the judges are appointed by the sitting President. Going back to 1969… almost 38 years, there have been 26 years of Republican Presidents appointing Federal judges. Assuming there has been an equal opportunity to appoint judges in each of those years, and that there has been close to 100% turnover since 1969 (how many 100 year-old, Kennedy appointed judges could there be left?)… it’s possible that almost 70% of the sitting Federal Judges were appointed by Republican Presidents. Now assume that Presidents tend to appoint people that are sympathetic to their own goals (DUH!), and you see why I get a real hoot about conservatives complaining about “an activist judiciary.” It must take some of the fun out of whining when they’ve only got themselves to blame.

In the latest round of Article III versus Article II… well, you’ve probably already heard that Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor (full disclosure: she was appointed by Carter in 1979) ruled against the administration’s domestic wire tapping program. In response, the administration has said that it will fight Judge Taylor’s ruling, asserting that the program has been effective in thwarting terrorism. That may be, but it’s not entirely the point. The issue is whether the program is legal, not effective. As I understand it, the key issue is: a search without some kind of warrant… which I understand can be obtained in secret AND after the fact (after the wires have been tapped and info gleaned) under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). If FISA allows the executive to wiretap in secret and obtain judicial blessing (a warrant) in secret (through the FISA court) after the fact, I fail to see why the administration can’t just follow the law – and keep us just as safe. It seems the only reason not proceed under FISA is to arrogantly flex the muscles of the office of the executive. Isn’t that just like a cowboy?

In 1775 Patrick Henry famously wrote: “Give me liberty or give me death.” Although not exactly what he meant; in light of recent terrorist activities and our attempts to thwart them, that sentiment may be more true now than at any other time in our nation’s history. For me, one of the lessons of 9/11 is that extremists will go to great lengths to kill. The question I think we must ask ourselves is this: is constitutional extremism our only tool to ward off this threat? With my view from the cheap seats, it seems that our president is equally interested in exercising raw power – as he is keeping our country safe. That is PRECISELY what the framers of our constitution were afraid of when they envisioned “the separation of powers” and “checks and balances.”

Give the gift of words.