SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

FILIBUSTER FUNNIES... NR White House Correspondent Byron York provides some entertaining anecdotes from MoveOn.org’s recent “Rally for Fair Judges” in his recent NRO contribution, “Right On, MoveOn!”

As York tells it:

The rally might not have presented an entirely coherent message, but it did send the signal that MoveOn has achieved a new level of prominence and influence in Washington, and that the group intends to be closely involved in the battle over judicial nominations.


Particularly amusing was Sen. Robert Byrd:

"Praise God!" Byrd yelled as he waved the copy of the Constitution he famously keeps in his coat pocket. "Hallelujah!"


Could you imagine a Republican Senator doing something like that? Charges of theocracy would run rampant. Better yet, what if one of the President’s nominees were to make such a display. One would expect Sen. Schumer would call him or her out for having “deeply held beliefs.” Someone might accuse such a nominee of being a proponent of natural law. Gasp! But it is nice to see Sen. Byrd actually referring to the written Constitution. After all, Sen. Byrd could’ve waved around an international treaty, signed by Nigeria, Libya or North Korea and described how American needs to update the Constitution to comport with the evolving international standards of decency.

Here’s another funny one:

When MoveOn organizer Ben Brandzel warmed up the crowd by vowing that he would not surrender to a president trying to "sell out our democracy for right-wing corporate hack judges," Byrd yelled out, "No!"


Jeepers…

Particularly noteworthy is the manner in which Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Alen Specter was treated. Writes York:

…Boxer expressed a certain fundamental lack of respect for the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. Referring to Leahy, who is the ranking Democrat on the committee, Boxer said, "I call him my chairman of the Judiciary Committee, because I don't recognize anyone else" — a remark that seemed to speak volumes about the effectiveness of Specter's efforts to reach out to Democrats.


I can’t fault Sen. Specter, President Bush, and the other Republicans for tryin’ to be nice. So far, the overtures have not met with any concessions by the other side, only an unprecedented filibuster.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

4 Comments:

  • At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's 'filibuster'; note the correct spelling.

     
  • At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Can one imagine a Republican Senator doing what? Referring to and exalting God while extolling the Great Constitution?

    Are you kidding me?

    While Bush is making attempts at packing Court nominations with rightwing agendists, do you honestly feel that one of the greatest Senators in the 20th-21st centuries should be condemned, rather weakly, for praising God and showing reverence for the Constitution?

    Should the President be called a theocratic despot for using the term "God bless America" and referring to God in every speech he's made since his candidacy?

    Your right-leaning position is clear, but try using some original thought.

    Moving on...

    What does Senator Byrd have to do with an ill-conceived decision about the 'evolving international standards of decency'?

    I'm assuming you're talking about the recent juvenile death penalty decision by the Supreme Court.

    While I disagree with many of the the Constitutional interpretations used to justify the decision, (primarily the injection of reliance upon global opinions), the basic tenet upon which the decision was made is valid and well supported; juveniles lack the mental competency for appropriate moral judgement.

    Further, the use of 'consensus' and 'standards of decency' is hardly something foreign to Constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court and their rulings.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you on the dangerous precedence of using language referring to institutions, opinions, and decisions that exist outside of the sovereignty of the United States; especially the reliance upon U.N. condemnation of the juvenile death penalty. This clearly opens the door for any number of illegitimate appeals based upon the Supreme Court's own reference to 'evolving international standards of decency'.

    However, the decision made must not be interpreted solely on the text in the decision itself. It must also include the cited previous decisions that condemned the use of death penalty in cases where the accused was mentally incompetent. The meat of the justification for Roper is included in that previous decision. The Justices should not be condemned for not restating, ad nauseum, the legal justifications for the previous decisions (Atkins, Penry, Stanford, etc.).

    It is well within the sphere of authority of the Supreme Court to determine "whether the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for juveniles" (Roper v. Simmons), despite your protestations otherwise.

    What I find most alarming and frightening is your desire to limit judicial power to fit your own ideological views: "I am increasingly of the view that judges should not be given a blank check with the constitution" (Blog entry March 07, 2005).

    The people elected the president(s) who nominated the Justices and also elected those who confirmed the nominations, all per the Constitution. Are you suggesting, perhaps, of instituting some other draconion method of mutating the system of checks and balances put in place by the writer's of the Constitution?

     
  • At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Can one imagine a Republican Senator doing what? Referring to and exalting God while extolling the Great Constitution?

    Are you kidding me?

    While Bush is making attempts at packing Court nominations with rightwing agendists, do you honestly feel that one of the greatest Senators in the 20th-21st centuries should be condemned, rather weakly, for praising God and showing reverence for the Constitution?

    Should the President be called a theocratic despot for using the term "God bless America" and referring to God in every speech he's made since his candidacy?

    Your right-leaning position is clear, but try using some original thought.

    Moving on...

    What does Senator Byrd have to do with an ill-conceived decision about the 'evolving international standards of decency'?

    I'm assuming you're talking about the recent juvenile death penalty decision by the Supreme Court.

    While I disagree with many of the the Constitutional interpretations used to justify the decision, (primarily the injection of reliance upon global opinions), the basic tenet upon which the decision was made is valid and well supported; juveniles lack the mental competency for appropriate moral judgement.

    Further, the use of 'consensus' and 'standards of decency' is hardly something foreign to Constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court and their rulings.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you on the dangerous precedence of using language referring to institutions, opinions, and decisions that exist outside of the sovereignty of the United States; especially the reliance upon U.N. condemnation of the juvenile death penalty. This clearly opens the door for any number of illegitimate appeals based upon the Supreme Court's own reference to 'evolving international standards of decency'.

    However, the decision made must not be interpreted solely on the text in the decision itself. It must also include the cited previous decisions that condemned the use of death penalty in cases where the accused was mentally incompetent. The meat of the justification for Roper is included in that previous decision. The Justices should not be condemned for not restating, ad nauseum, the legal justifications for the previous decisions (Atkins, Penry, Stanford, etc.).

    It is well within the sphere of authority of the Supreme Court to determine "whether the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for juveniles" (Roper v. Simmons), despite your protestations otherwise.

    What I find most alarming and frightening is your desire to limit judicial power to fit your own ideological views: "I am increasingly of the view that judges should not be given a blank check with the constitution" (Blog entry March 07, 2005).

    The people elected the president(s) who nominated the Justices and also elected those who confirmed the nominations, all per the Constitution. Are you suggesting, perhaps, of instituting some other draconion method of mutating the system of checks and balances put in place by the writer's of the Constitution?

     
  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger Coop said…

    Thanks to the anonymous reader for the spelling mistake. Its now fixed.

    As for the other commentator (assuming its a different person)... I never condemned Sen. Byrd for waving around the constitution in my post, nor for giving praise for it. My comments were more directed at how MSM often covers these things.

    However, I don't have any particularly strong reason to consider Sen. Byrd one of the greatest Senators in the 20th-21st century, unless one measures greatness purely in terms of years of service or one's mastery of obtaining pork barrel spending for one's home state. Clearly, Sen. Byrd has excelled in the latter for his home state of West Virginia. Further, I think any claims to his greatness will forever be marred by his opposition to civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

    I've blogged plenty on the death penalty matter--here and at Sound Politics. I don't doubt that some juveniles do not have the culpability, but I think the Supreme Court majority was way off base in categorically declaring the death penalty unconstitutional for all juveniles.

    Further, I did not categorically say that referring to the court decisions of other nations or of international tribunals is illegitimate. There are circumstances when that is appropriate. But to do so in an appeal to evolving societal consensus goes against the grain of my understanding of the rule of law and the role of an independent judiciary.

    You think it frighening and alarming that I believe the Supreme Court should NOT have a blank check with the constitution? THAT I just don't get.

    My views of the constitution follow the views that James Madison enunciates in his famous 1834 letter (which you can probably find on the net and which is excerpted in in pages 144-145 of Larry Kramer's "The People Themselves"). Madison argues that all THREE branches are co-ordinate and have powers within their respective capacities to interpert and apply the constitution. Naturally, as Madison notes, the judiciary has a unique role in expounding upon the constitution--due to its position as the body handling specific cases and controversies. Its interpretation comes last, but that does not make the Supreme Court the infallible interpreters of the Constitution. Were that so, stare decisis would prevent the Supreme Court from re-visiting past decisions and correcting big jurisprudential mistakes.

    I am particularly fond of Abraham Lincon's arguments against Dred Scott. While he recognized the authority of the court and the fact that their decision was binding upon the parties in litigation, he was not about to bow down and surrender all constitutional authority to the Supreme Court.

    Further, I am a strong admirer of the Great John Marshall, and belive the Constitutional Convention significantly altered the pre-existing union to give the federal government greater (but nonetheless limited) power. Judicial review is implicit in the jurisprudential and political background of the constitution and is implicit in the operations of the structure of government that it created. But, as Kramer makes clear, judicial supremacy was never contemplated by the Founders. So it can fairly be stated that I am a strong proponent of judicial review, but an a critic of judicial supremacy.

     

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