June 22, 2008

Dictator Obama Would Be No Improvement Over Dictator Bush

Art Levine: Is Obama Selling Out on FISA bill? - Politics on The Huffington Post
the Only Thing That Matters is that Barack Obama be put in the Oval Office, and we must do anything and everything -- including remain silent when he embraces a full-scale assault on the Fourth Amendment and the rule of law -- because every goal is now subordinate to electing Barack Obama our new Leader.

It is absolutely false that the only unconstitutional and destructive provision of this "compromise" bill is the telecom amnesty part. It's true that most people working to defeat the Cheney/Rockefeller bill viewed opposition to telecom amnesty as the most politically potent way to defeat the bill, but the bill's expansion of warrantless eavesdropping powers vested in the President, and its evisceration of safeguards against abuses of those powers, is at least as long-lasting and destructive as the telecom amnesty provisions. The bill legalizes many of the warrantless eavesdropping activities George Bush secretly and illegally ordered in 2001. Those warrantless eavesdropping powers violate core Fourth Amendment protections. And Barack Obama now supports all of it, and will vote it into law. Those are just facts.

The ACLU specifically identifies the ways in which this bill destroys meaningful limits on the President's power to spy on our international calls and emails.

June 13, 2008

Major Victory, Fragile Nonetheless

New York Times Weighs in: On Guantánamo - Justice 5, Brutality 4
There is an enormous gulf between the substance and tone of the majority opinion, with its rich appreciation of the liberties that the founders wrote into the Constitution, and the what-is-all-the-fuss-about dissent. It is sobering to think that habeas hangs by a single vote in the Supreme Court of the United States — a reminder that the composition of the court could depend on the outcome of this year’s presidential election. The ruling is a major victory for civil liberties — but a timely reminder of how fragile they are.

June 12, 2008

A Democracy Survives, Stronger for Generations

It appears the process of democratic revival that started after the 2006 congressional elections is now on its last victory lap.

Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON — Foreign terrorism suspects held at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba have constitutional rights to challenge their detention there in United States courts, the Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, on Thursday in a historic decision on the balance between personal liberties and national security.

"It's been said that democracy in America has been 'a series of narrow escapes.' Whew, that was a close one." Nina, Wisconsin

“The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court.

It wouldn't surprise me that the inexorable shift in public sentiments helped stir the conscience of the odd judge or two who would otherwise have ruled in allegiance to their political masters. Or perhaps it was the realization that a new dispensation might assume those executive powers they are so loathe to check. Still, four judges continue to consider themselves and their institution unworthy of the right to review the executive powers.