Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Former Ashcroft counsel says president is above the law

Holy shit.
Legal challenges against Bush's efforts are likely to fail because the president has constitutional power to act as commander in chief and conduct foreign affairs, said Kris Kobach, former counsel to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"Article II will trump anything Congress tries to do through statute," Kobach said.

(Link via Thoughts From Kansas)
Do I have to remind you again how Republicans used to talk?
Bill Frist: I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the President. He is not above the law. If an ordinary citizen committed these crimes, he would go to jail. Many senators have voted to remove federal judges guilty of perjury, and I have no doubt that the Senate would do so again. Those who by their votes today confer immunity on the President for the same crimes do violence to the core principle that we are all entitled to equal justice under law.

John McCain: Presidents are not ordinary citizens. They are extraordinary, in that they are vested with so much more authority and power than the rest of us. We have a right; indeed, we have an obligation, to hold them strictly accountable to the rule of law.

Chuck Hagel: The President violated his Constitutional oath and he broke the law. His crimes do rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors prescribed in the Constitution. The President's actions cannot be defended by dancing on the pin head of legal technicality. Every American must know actions have consequences. Even for presidents. All Americans must have faith in our laws and know that there is equal justice for all. The core of our judicial process is the rule of law.

Larry Craig: The Framers of the Constitution believed that governments are established in the first place to protect the rights of the governed. It follows that the most serious breach of duty in public office--the most serious threat to the order of society itself--is for the enforcers of the law to break the law. How much more grave that breach becomes when it is committed by the one individual in the nation who personifies the federal government: the president.

Spencer Abraham: The President's role and status in our system of government are unique. The Constitution vests the executive power in the President, and in the President alone. That means he is the officer chiefly charged with carrying out our laws. Therefore, far more than any federal judge, he holds the scales of justice in his own hands.

In the wrong hands, that power can easily be transformed from the power to carry out the laws, into the power to bend them to one's own ends.

The very nature of the Presidency guarantees that its occupant will face daily temptations to twist the laws for personal gain, for party benefit or for the advantage of friends.

To combat these temptations, the Constitution spells out--in no uncertain terms--that the President shall "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," and the President's oath of office requires him to swear that he will do so...

Indeed, we Americans take the rule of law so thoroughly for granted that while it has been much invoked in these proceedings, there has been little discussion of what it means or why it matters. Simply put, the rule of law is the guarantee our system makes to all of us that our rights and those of our countrymen will be determined according to rules established in advance. It is the guarantee that there will be no special rules, treatment, and outcomes for some, but that the same rules will be applied, in the same way, to everyone.

If America's most powerful citizen may bend the law in his own favor with impunity, we have come dangerously close to trading in the rule of law for the rule of men. That in turn jeopardizes the freedoms we hold dear, for our equality before the law is central to their protection.

Sam Brownback: Indeed, we Americans take the rule of law so thoroughly for granted that while it has been much invoked in these proceedings, there has been little discussion of what it means or why it matters. Simply put, the rule of law is the guarantee our system makes to all of us that our rights and those of our countrymen will be determined according to rules established in advance. It is the guarantee that there will be no special rules, treatment, and outcomes for some, but that the same rules will be applied, in the same way, to everyone.

If America's most powerful citizen may bend the law in his own favor with impunity, we have come dangerously close to trading in the rule of law for the rule of men. That in turn jeopardizes the freedoms we hold dear, for our equality before the law is central to their protection.
Remember, if you don't believe in the "unitary executive," then you have to see that the laws concerning FISA and wiretapping were written to restrain a vast machinery of investigation and law enforcement. If you do, as Bush does, believe in the "unitary executive," then that law was written to restrain one man: The President.

I guess my belief in the checks and balances inherent in the Constitution is part of my "pre-9/11 mindset."

Republicans are proving more and more every day that their party stands for nothing and the "Republican Revolution" was all just pomp and circumstance leading up to a coronation.

Update: The Agonist says it sure is going to be fun to use Article II once Bush is gone.

2 Comments:

Blogger Lex said...

Even if Article II trumped FISA, which it demonstrably does not, it wouldn't trump Article I, Section 8, which gives Congress some power and latitude in the warmaking arena, as well: "Congress shall have power to ... make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces ... "

1:19 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...

I just hope that Republican Senators Snowe and Hagel will continue to fight for either hearings or increasing oversight of the program as they have been trying to do on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

7:44 AM  

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