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Some Thoughts for “Law Day”


                    Don’t laugh, you want the job.  Don’t laugh…

Well, it’s Law Day here in the good old US of A.  The President has proclaimed it so (h/t to SusanG at DKos):

This year’s Law Day theme, "Liberty Under Law: Separate Branches, Balanced Powers," honors the wisdom of the separation of powers that the Framers of our Constitution established for the Federal Government. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention recognized the risks that accompany the concentration of power and devised a system in which the Federal Government’s authorities are divided among three independent branches. James Madison highlighted the importance of our Constitution’s separation of powers when he wrote, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

Throughout our Nation’s history, we have been reminded repeatedly of the wisdom of the Framers’ design. Our system of separation of powers has safeguarded our liberties and helped ensure that we remain a government of laws. Law Day is an occasion for us to celebrate our Constitution and to honor those in the judiciary and legal profession who work to uphold and serve its principles.

Lovely sentiments, aren’t they? Too bad President Do As I Say, Not As I Actually Do has such a piss poor record of following his own proclamation:

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.

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.

Respect for Congress, the Constitution and the principle of separation of powers, indeed. Perhaps in Bizarro World, but not in the Bush White House.  (Glenn has more on that here.)

For every Senator who voted for cloture on Alito and thought we wouldn’t remember months from then, think again.

…it won’t be long before Alito makes his mark. There are three cases on the court’s docket in which the 56-year-old junior justice will probably have the deciding vote.

These are the three cases the court has set down for reargument since Sandra Day O’Connor left the court and Alito took her place on Jan. 31.

Although the court did not announce why it decided to hold a second hour of oral argument on the cases, the likeliest reason, based on the experience of previous transitions on the court, is that in each instance O’Connor’s departure left the court divided 4 to 4.

If so, it will be up to Alito to break the tie, once he has had a chance to catch up on the briefs and hear the lawyers on both sides.

I will say it again and again: a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court should never, ever be a gimme. Sometimes, a stand on principle is the single most important thing a legislator can do for the nation and their constituency. You think we are all going to just forget your vote? Fat chance.

L’Etat c’est Georges?  Not exactly what the Founders had in mind, is it?  Especially not in the context of this forever war we find ourselves in under the Bush regime.

So let’s start with the basics, shall we?  No president is above the law (and neither is his AG).    Let’s all try some intellectual honesty for a change and actually read the contitution and the laws of our nation.  I still say give me liberty — it’s far better than the alternative of machinations and lies.

The gall of the President’s "Law Day" proclamation when viewed through the lens of his deeds is appalling. 

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com