Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11, Showtime 4:15
Here's one way to briefly explain what happened in the Supreme Court yesterday: On the Padilla, Hamdi, and Guantanamo detentions, the president failed to uphold his oath to protect the Constitution, the legislative branch lost its nerve after 9/11 and let him do it, and so it was up to the judicial branch to save our asses--right? Well, yeah--but Jonathan Turley, writing in the Los Angeles Times today (registration required) calls yesterday's decisions a "near miss", and terms the court "dysfunctional" and its rulings "vaguely dishonest." And he reminds us that despite the 8-1 and 6-3 votes, four justices "seemed eager to find any implied authority from Congress to allow the president to declare citizens enemy combatants--ultimately relying on the resolution passed after 9/11"--the very resolution Turley characterizes as a case of Bush's autocratic ambitions meeting Congress' institutional cowardice. So on a different day with different circumstances, perhaps the outcome might be far less favorable to our civil rights and the Constitution as we have known them. In Turley's view, far from being a triumph of our fabled three-branch, check-n-balance system of government, the rulings actually serve to highlight how screwed up the system is at the moment.

I am off to see Fahrenheit 9/11 this afternoon (ah, the joys of working at home and setting your own schedule). I have avoided most of the reviews so I can form my own opinion--which I will share here either tonight or tomorrow morning.

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