Creative Destruction

July 2, 2007

Brazenly Beyond the Law

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Current Events,Politics — Brutus @ 9:44 pm

The NY Times has a recent editorial that suggests says outright that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled so badly in three First Amendment cases that it no longer pays attention to precedent and is in effect operating beyond the law:

Chief Justice Roberts and the four others in his ascendant bloc used the next-to-last decision day of this term to reopen the political system to a new flood of special-interest money, to weaken protection of student expression and to make it harder for citizens to challenge government violations of the separation of church and state. In the process, the reconfigured court extended its noxious habit of casting aside precedents without acknowledging it ….

For the Times to identify a voting bloc that functions to contravene precedent in something as significant as the First Amendment is pretty astounding. The timing of the Court also reads pretty clearly as politically informed. The First Amendment isn’t a hotly contested issue, though certain instances (such as flag burning) may be. My take on bedrock principles of the U.S. Constitution — so basic and assumed back in the day that they were omitted from the first version and only added later as amendments — is that they should be protected slavishly unless some clear public interest is served by revoking rights. It is far better to extend protection in questionable cases than to infringe someone’s rights, not unlike the conventional wisdom (enshrined in someone’s famous quote, no doubt) that it’s better to let ten guilty men go free than to convict one innocent one.

In other news likely to become a political firestorm in the coming days (and then blow over in favor of some new revelation, as nearly all of Bush’s missteps do), Pres. Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s 2.5-year prison sentence. Leaving the fine, probation, and criminal record intact rather than a full pardon is nothing to these guys, which is say almost no punishment at all. Haven’t members of the Bush Administration also shown themselves brazenly willing to operate beyond the law? So much for accountability. Of course, it should surprise no one that the Prez steps in to protect one of his aides, but sheesh. Isn’t there even a sacrificial goat to quell the need for political balance anymore?


  1. Gosh, Brutus. I don’t pay attention to politics anymore. They have very little to do with my everyday life. Is it any wonder that so many apathetic people don’t even bother to vote anymore?

    Comment by greywhitie — July 3, 2007 @ 9:17 am | Reply

  2. Your comment isn’t about the subject of this post, but no, it’s no wonder why people don’t care.

    Comment by Brutus — July 3, 2007 @ 11:40 am | Reply

  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Democracy simply doesn’t work.

    Comment by Robert — July 3, 2007 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

  4. I don’t entirely disagree with you, Robert, though the alternatives aren’t so attractive, either. Anarchy is probably where the world is eventually headed, following a brief dalliance with corporate fascism. Fascism is good for getting things done, but it isn’t a very good system under which to live.

    So sure, democracy has its flaws. But the rule of law and the principle of limited government interference in the lives of ordinary citizens are pretty appealing. We’re the cart, government is the horse.

    Comment by Brutus — July 3, 2007 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  5. Anarchy is not a stable end state. People always organize out of it almost immediately.

    Comment by Robert — July 3, 2007 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  6. Democracy is the worst system devised by the wit of man [sic],except for all the others.–W Churchill. I tend to agree. It’s not the best system and it is not inherently evil to suggest that other systems might be better. But none of those so far tried have been and any changes to the system that decrease democracy should be treated with great caution.

    Comment by Dianne — July 3, 2007 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  7. Happy 4th of July, Brutus. Don’t play with too many fireworks. Handel with care. 🙂

    Comment by greywhitie — July 4, 2007 @ 5:52 am | Reply

  8. Now that the 4th of July is over, Handel waterworks with care, too.

    Comment by greywhitie — July 6, 2007 @ 11:20 am | Reply

  9. Did not Big Bill and Hillary(the husband basher) indulge in a bit of thieving and skulduggery as well or is that an insignificant and mute point when Bush bashing ?

    Comment by Christian J. — July 13, 2007 @ 2:42 am | Reply

  10. I’ve read a number of places that every (yes, EVERY) president since Eisenhower has his share of impeachable offenses, which we mostly turn a blind eye towards. If there are differences with the current administration, perhaps that they include the facts the transgressions are out in the open and have bled into other branches of government.

    I note that in the past week, Bush ordered one of his functionaries to ignore a congressional subpeona and told the media it is time to “move on” past his commutation of Libby’s sentence. There is no subtlety in that: he’s telling us all to stuff it.

    Comment by Brutus — July 13, 2007 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  11. People in government will ALWAYS be beyond the law. It would have been a surprise if Scooter Libby didn’t get away with it. I’m a vocal anarchist and will lead the world to it if I get the chance. Unstable? Yeah. Well, give me unstable freedom over “stable” submission and slavery anytime. And war and the death penalty and incarceration so that the elites can “feel” safe, overpopulation, pollution, all these are supported by government. And the American revolution that started this country (whatever one thinks of it), was not started by submissive, “law-abiding” wimps. Paul Revere was not submissive. Their “revolution” would be “illegal” today. Think about THAT.

    Comment by Josh — July 20, 2007 @ 1:54 am | Reply

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