...as in the imperative (i.e. you, youth, progress). This blog is updated by politically active young people. Issues that will be discussed are those which concern young voters and are of concern to young voters.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Road to Despotism

The Constitution is the most sacred and powerful document in US Law. It, and its amendments, contain all of the guaranteed liberties of American citizens, as well as provide the blueprint for a fair and just democracy. Yet, there are those who wish to undermine this holy doctrine. There are those who think that America would be a better place without it. The leader of these sinners is a devil named George W. Bush, who has ascended the throne of our great nation in a pursuit to raise the fiery depths of hell. (Pst, I'm an atheist. This is an allegory.)

Why should the youth be concerned about an abstract legal battle? Because, my fellow youngins, this is our Constitution too. This is the supreme protector of our rights and liberties, and it is under attack by a despot!

Signing Statements:

President Bush, and David "Satan's Little Helper" Addington, formerly chief legal council to Vice President Dick "Dick" Cheney who replaced Scooter Libby as Cheney's chief of staff, has.... well, I'll let the Boston Globe spell it out for you:
President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
And, Boston Globe, what about the scope and aggression of this Constitutional instrusion?:
Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.
I would like everyone to note the last sentence ("Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to "execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional."). Call me old-fashioned, but I do believe that the founding fathers had bestowed that power, to declare things unconstitutional, upon the Judiciary Branch of our government, via the Constitution. In fact, Article 3, Section 2 states:
The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
But I am no lawyer, not yet anyways. What do the lawyers have to say? (via US News and World Report):
In a report to be released Monday, the task force [of the American Bar Association] will recommend that Congress pass legislation providing for some sort of judicial review of the signing statements. Some task force members want to simply give Congress the right to sue over the signing statements; other task force members will not characterize what sort of judicial review might ultimately emerge.
To paraphrase this, all members of the ABA task force wish to reduce the power of the signing statement, some want to see Congress sue Bush. In fact, this may already be in the works.

On June 28, 2006, the Boston Globe reported that "the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Arlen Specter (R-PA), said yesterday that he is 'seriously considering' filing legislation to give Congress legal standing to sue President Bush over his use of signing statements to reserve the right to bypass laws." 12 hours ago, the Seattle Times reported, "A powerful Republican committee chairman [Specter] who has led the fight against President Bush's signing statements said Monday he would have a bill ready by the end of the week allowing Congress to sue the president in federal court."

Conservatives are quick to point out that the signing statement had been used about 600 times before Bush Jr. took office, including by his predecessor President Clinton, and as early as the James Monroe Administration. There are two major differences between signing statements prior and during the Bush Administration:

1. The Bush Administration has used the signing statements about 750 times. That's about 150 more signing statements than every single other administration in history combined.

2. The Bush Administration has used the singing statements in an unprecedented and extreme manner, as mentioned above.

The Constitution is a living document; I think it is perhaps time to do away with the signing statement and let real balance of power prevail.

Other Crimes of the "See no Constitution, Speak no Constitution, Hear no Constitution" White House:

NSA Warentless Surveillance Scandal:
In the case of this scandal, the executive branch ignored a law it had found to be inconvenient at the expense of the right to privacy. The New York Times broke the story in December of 2005 that the NSA (which acts under the authority of the President) had been illegally bypassing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts in order to more expediently conduct domestic spying on suspected terrorists. This was grossly illegal in two ways: 1) it violated the Fourth Amendment, which states the "right of the people to be secure... against unreasonable searches," and 2) it violated the president's Constitutional duty to inform Congress.

Terrorist Finance Tracking Scandal: This scandal violated the same laws as the NSA Warantless Surveillance Scandal. It too was conducted by the NSA. The President claimed to have the power to monitor overseas bank transactions without notification. I have covered this here.

Pakistani Nuclear Silence:
As Rep. Hoekstra (R-MI) said, "the Congress should not have to play 20 questions to get the answers it deserves under the Constitution." It was revealed this week that the Administration did not tell Congress about Pakistan's plans to build heavy-duty nuclear reactors to build nuclear weapons in response to the US promise to "share civilian nuclear technology with India." (As reported in an AP article idiotically titled, "Critics Oppose US-India Nuclear Deal.")

These are but a current few examples that I have chosen to highlight. There are others known, and undoubtedly others yet to be revealed.

The importance of the erosion of American, Constitutional values cannot be overstated. America is on the Road to Despotism.

More Information:

Bill Would Let Congress Sue Bush - Seattle Times
Bar Association Task Force Urges... - US News and World Report
Bush Challenges Hundreds of Laws - Boston Globe
United States Constitution - The Founding Fathers


Blogger progressyouth said...

Correction: In the article I had stated that the Warantless Surveillance Programs had violated something called the "Unitary Executive Theory." This was erroneous, the "Unitary Executive Theory" is the theory that President and his lawyer, David Addington, are using to violate the Constitutional rights of us and Congress.

Par Wikipedia:

The theory relies on the Vesting Clause of Article II which states "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." Proponents of the unitary executive use this language along with the Take Care Clause ("[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed...") to argue that the Constitution creates a "hierarchical, unified executive department under the direct control of the President."[1]

The theory argues that the power of Congress to divest the President of control of the executive branch is limited.

10:19 PM


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