CommunityFDL Main Blog

Rule Of Law, Overreach, And Roosting GOP Chickens…Again

It seems that the GOP chickens may be coming home to roost again on yet another legal scandal. The WSJ (via ABA Journal) reports that a grand jury referral has been filed in the US Attorney firing mess. To wit:

A grand jury referral focusing on political meddling in the Justice Department’s civil rights division has been filed in the probe of U.S. attorney firings.

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports that the referral focuses on possible perjury by Bradley Schlozman, who left the Justice Department last year. At the time he faced criticism for bragging about hiring Republicans for career positions when he led the civil rights division. He also was criticized for bringing voter fraud charges against a liberal group shortly before an election when he was serving as interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo.

A Washington Post story published last year said Schlozman acknowledged in congressional testimony that he had bragged about his hiring but denied politics played a part in actions against career employees….

He also testified before Congress about the voter fraud case and denied that the timing violated DOJ guidelines for politically sensitive investigations, the Wall Street Journal story says….

You remember Mr. Schlozman, don’t you? Desperately in need of gingko biloba, purveyor of politicized prosecutorial decisions in Missouri, vetter of political bona fides for hiring decisions, supporter of voting suppression efforts…the list goes on and on.

This is all of a piece with the perversion of the rule of law the last few years to bring it in line with ideological purity among the unilateral executive Cheneyites and the Federalist Society conservatives. And what we are beginning to see is the reversal — a recoiling, if you will, from the excesses and unilateral power seizures of the Bush/Cheney Administration. And it is a correction cycle in which we will be living for some time to come. As Digby says, responding to a fantastic analytical piece from Hilzoy on McCain’s 1974 thesis on what torture meant to him then:

She notes the difference in what McCain clearly considered torture back then, and what he considers torture now. Indeed, it would seem that it was so uncontroversial that he didn’t even feel the need to "define" torture at all. I think it was pretty much universally understood that things like sleep deprivation and stress position and hypothermia etc — were torture. I guess his thinking has evolved on this. Or he is a political whore.

What we have allowed ourselves to become in this nation is a bunch of sleeping sheep, whose lives were ordered for a time from above because we were either cowering under our covers or squabbling amongst ourselves as to how to best push back. The correction phase of this long and winding road has begun.

You can see it in the recent SCOTUS opinion on Boumadiene, just by comparing the ideologically and fear-driven rage of Justice Scalia with the measured, historical analysis of Justice Kennedy — but it truly shows up in the bewildered irritation of Chief Justice Roberts, who petulantly whings:

So who has won? Not the detainees. The Court’s analysis leaves them with only the prospect of further litigation to determine the content of their new habeas right, followed by further litigation to resolve their particular cases, followed by further litigation before the D. C. Circuit—where they could have started had they invoked the DTA procedure. Not Congress, whose attempt to “determine—through democratic means—how best” to balance the security of the American people with the detainees’ liberty interests, see Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U. S. 557, 636 (2006) (BREYER, J., concurring), has been unceremoniously brushed aside. Not the Great Writ, whose majesty is hardly enhanced by its extension to a jurisdictionally quirky outpost, with no tangible benefit to anyone. Not the rule of law, unless by that is meant the rule of lawyers, who will now arguably have a greater role than military and intelligence officials in shaping policy for alien enemy combatants. And certainly not the American people, who today lose a bit more control over the conduct of this Nation’s foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges.

We are at a point in our nation’s history where the Chief Justice of our nation’s highest court has reduced himself to using right-wing talking points about "unelected judges" to whine about defendants being able to challenge this: being held in US custody for years, without charge, without seeing all available evidence, with trials allegedly stacked for political purposes for the verdict, sometimes apprehended via a paid bounty, some of whom have been tortured and held in isolation for days on end in the darkness by our own nation’s hand. In a systematic program of maltreatment sanctioned at the very top of our government.

Because, somehow, a full and fair hearing for a person who should start with the presumption of innocent until proven guilty under our own system of laws and justice is no longer a valid starting point.

The Geneva Conventions and the protections born from them which benefited our nation’s soldiers as much as any others on the planet were begun from Lincoln’s edict for humane treatment of prisoners during the Civil War. A full and fair vote is the foundation of our democratic republic. Justice, which used to be the watchword at the DOJ had become a term to be manipulated for public consumption while masking the vile stripping of rights being sanctioned underneath.

To blithely treat these protections as meaningless when it suits us is to cast aside who we are as a nation, and what we have stood for all these generations. To reverse this course and once again take up the mantle of justice and integrity will take generations of work. And it cannot start too soon — holding Bradley Schlozman to account for his machinations is as good a place to start as any.

(YouTube via nolocontendre.)

Previous post

Open thread: weekend updater and CA marriage day

Next post

Obama in Flint, MI

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