Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Separation of Powers: Another Angle

After more than five years, folks are finally beginning to talk about how the current regime has thoroughly trashed the US Constitution. We progressives have been screaming about the wholesale slaughter of the Bill of Rights, and over the past week, even House Speaker Dennis Hastert has proclaimed outrage at the FBI's search of a sitting Representative's House office (scroll down one). Hastert complained about the breach of the separation of powers, with the Executive Branch trespassing on the Legislative Branch. Now a retired Supreme Court Justice has weighed in on the assault on the Judicial Branch on the part of the Legislative Branch. From yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Most Americans revere this country's democracy, but few can tell you what makes it work. The answer, of course, lies in the U.S. Constitution -- whose authors crafted an ingenious blueprint to fulfill the promise of government by the people. The architecture they designed -- a governance system of three equal branches, each with special power to sustain American liberty -- is even now admired around the world.

Yet this three-pillared edifice seems to be developing a few cracks of late -- moving some observers to worry about its stability. One noteworthy worrier is former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who this week expressed her fears to a University of Minnesota audience.

O'Connor has no concerns about the integrity of the system itself, but about the posse of saboteurs who appear eager to destabilize it. Where do these ruffians come from? Mostly from lawmaking bodies -- both state and federal -- whose members feel strangely free to respond to judicial rulings they don't like with bullying banter and outright threats.

What's wrong with all this? Only everything. Democracy, after all, can't survive in the face of brazen disregard for its principles. One such principle is the balance of powers -- the constitutional requirement that each branch of government maintain its autonomy. If right-wing lawmakers succeed in packing the judicial branch with like-minded cronies and terrorize judges whose rulings they don't like, they'll have tipped the power balance dangerously.


Of course, those "right-wing lawmakers" have taken their lead from the Emperor who has made their job ever so much easier by nominating only those whose political and judicial philosophies match those of the regime, which is to say more than slightly to the right of Attila the Hun*.

It's the end of May. November is less than six months away. To quote a radical leftist who has reappeared in political discourse: "Had enough?"

I certainly hope so.

________________

* Out of a sense of blog integritude, I have grudgingly used a less than apt figure for the metaphor.

4 Comments:

Blogger Eli said...

Well, gee, thanks, Sandy. Way to turn over your seat to Sammy Alito, that'll really help SCOTUS keep the president in line...

2:53 PM  
Blogger cabearie said...

Yeh, that sure didn't help, did it.

Actually, I believe she is doing penance for the 2000 decision handing the presidency to Bush.

How that must haunt her, eh?

3:01 PM  
Anonymous sister of ye said...

How that must haunt her, eh?

Oh, I hope so. I certainly hope so.

Sandy, I hope the faces of dead and maimed U.S. troops and Iraqis float before you and cost you decent sleep every single remaining night of your life.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Prior Aelred said...

Sandra Day O'Connor put Bush in power -- everyone with any sense knew better at the time -- I have no sympathy with her belated croadile tears!

6:13 PM  

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