October 04, 2007
The Ends Justify the High-Tech Lynching
James Taranto, in his "Best of the Web Today" today, notes that the accusations of "anger" against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas seem to be unfounded. But building on that is the idea that, since the travesty that was his confirmation hearing didn't manage to keep him off the bench, he shouldn't be upset about those accusations. "Hey, you made the highest court in the land. So what about the politics of personal destruction?"
Taranto has a great rundown of all the shenanigans that took place back then, including the observation that
"...Thomas's political foes managed to violate the integrity of the FBI, the Senate and the D.C. Circuit--that is, of all three branches of government. This behavior was unethical, unconscionable and possibly criminal, and no one has ever been held to account for it."
Thomas was treated unfairly, as well as illegally, but that didn't matter to the Democrats that opposed him.
Thomas's opponents believed that the end justified the means, as a former foe tells the justice's wife on page 232:
Years later a young woman who had worked for one of the many groups opposed to my nomination approached Virginia. "We didn't think of your husband as human, and I'm sorry," she said, tears streaming down her face. "We thought that anything was justified because our access to abortions and sex was at risk." The woman went on to explain that she had subsequently had a religious conversion and now felt that it was her duty to apologize to us.
Now, those who remain unrepentant are reduced to arguing, pathetically, that Justice Thomas--and the rest of us--should countenance the means because they failed to realize the end.
Taranto's analysis is why "BotWT" is a daily e-mail I never miss.
May 08, 2007
Time magazine reminds us of a little history.
When the Supreme Court struck down Texas's law against sodomy in the summer of 2003, in the landmark gay rights case of Lawrence v. Texas, critics warned that its sweeping support of a powerful doctrine of privacy could lead to challenges of state laws that forbade such things as gay marriage and bigamy. "State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are ... called into question by today's decision," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, in a withering dissent he read aloud page by page from the bench.
Rick Santorum was one of those critics.
"If the Supreme Court says you have the right to consensual sex within your home," Santorum said at the time, "then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."
As [Boston Globe columnist Jeff] Jacoby noted, Santorum was given "holy hell" and handed "nail-spitting" by some critics.
Where are the folks now who gave conservatives such a hard time? Given what Time is reporting, they're probably being very, very quiet.
It turns out the critics were right. Plaintiffs have made the decision the centerpiece of attempts to defeat state bans on the sale of sex toys in Alabama, polygamy in Utah and adoptions by gay couples in Florida. So far the challenges have been unsuccessful. But plaintiffs are still trying, even using Lawrence to challenge laws against incest.
The key phrase is "so far". I'm glad to hear that lower courts are now expanding the Lawrence decision, but these attempts at overturning state laws (joined by the ACLU, unsurprisingly) are unprecedented, and the outcome is by no means assured.
The issue does not appear to have been challenged in federal court previously, though the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2005 that a Wisconsin law forbidding incest among blood relations (but not including step-relations) did not conflict with Lawrence's ruling. But in upholding prison sentences for a brother-sister couple in that case, the court acknowledged that the language in Lawrence is all but certain to prompt more challenges to prosecutions for sex-related crimes on privacy grounds.
Hey there, liberals. Pandora left this box for you. Enjoy.
April 18, 2007
Supreme Court Upholds Partial Birth Abortion Ban
Justice Anthony Kennedy voted with the majority on this one, and wrote the opinion.
The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.
The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.
The opponents of the act "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
The administration defended the law as drawing a bright line between abortion and infanticide.
Finally, there is some pushback to those who love to keep blurring the line. I believe that this will help hold back those who intend to blur the line even further, beyond birth. This is a good ruling.
November 14, 2006
Moses and The Ten ... Amendments?
Pastor Todd DuBord got a bit of a shock when he did the DC tour recently. When they got to the Supreme Court building, revisionism was readily apparent.
He was most disturbed by what appears to be revisionism in the presentations given to visitors at the Supreme Court. There, he said, his tour guide was describing the marble frieze directly above the justices' bench.
"Between the images of the people depicting the Majesty of the Law and Power of Government, there is a tablet with ten Roman numerals, the first five down the left side and the last five down the right. This tablet represents the first ten amendments of the Bill of Rights," she said.
The ten what? was DuBord's thought.
Indeed, Pastor DuBord has done his research (click here for the PDF of his letter, containing all his information about this and other places history is being erased). The thing is, it's not just a matter of ignoring Christian figures and influences, it's being actively denied,
He then asked, "If there are no other depictions of Moses or the Ten Commandments on the building except on the South Wall Frieze in the U.S. Supreme Court, then what about on the east side of the building where Moses is the central figure among others, holding both tablets of the Ten Commandments, one in each arm?"
"Her response shocked me as much as the guide inside the Court chamber. 'There is no depiction of Moses and the Ten Commandments like that on the U.S. Supreme Court,'" DuBord said he was told.
He asked if there were any pictures of the representation, and she pulled one out.
"Her eyes widened in surprise. There was Moses in photo and description as the central figure, holding the Ten Commandments (tablets), one in each hand," DuBord wrote.
Although there are six depictions of Moses and-or the Ten Commandments at the Supreme Court, the tour guides had been trained to admit to only the one on Moses, he said.
DuBord has traced at least one of the reasons this change has been taking place. Read the whole article or his message to the Court to learn about the letter from the sculptor saying it was the 10 Amendments, but also why this letter's authenticity is dubious (and also about the other letters this same sculptor wrote about similar depictions of his specifically about the 10 Commandments around DC).
One has to wonder why our country's Christian heritage and influence has to be "sanitized", and who's responsible for it.
June 01, 2006
Creating Rights Out of Whole Cloth
Where do the abortion issue and teacher-student sex intersect? At the "Constitutional right" to privacy.
A former high school teacher facing sexual assault charges says his arrest on suspicion of having sexual relations with a student violates a fundamental right guaranteed by both the state and federal constitutions.
Matthew Glasser, a former music teacher at Northwest Catholic High School, was arrested last year under a provision of the state's criminal code that makes having sex with students a crime, even if the student has reached 16 - the age of consent.
But in a motion filed in Superior Court in Hartford, Glasser claims the statute infringes on his constitutional right to privacy, which, he argues, includes engaging in a sexual relationship with another consenting adult. Glasser was 29 when the relationship is alleged to have taken place; the girl was 16.
"We believe that the statute infringes on a fundamental right to sexual privacy and therefore does not hold up under constitutional scrutiny," said Jeremy Donnelly, one of Glasser's lawyers.
The "Constitutional right" to an abortion was based on the idea that the Constitution itself, in its "emanations" and "penumbras", conferred a general right to privacy. Now, that right isn't specifically enumerated, so there's no way to legally explain what it really means. It meant whatever Justice Douglas said it did then, and it'll mean whatever a judge today says it does now. If we need a right to privacy (and I think we probably do these days) then either that should be written specifically into the Constitution or privacy issues should be dealt with at the local level. But when you create a right out of whole cloth, there's no way to limit it.
Which brings us to Mr. Glasser, who says that this emanation encompasses him and his 16-year-old, legal adult, student. Were it not for those pesky sexual harassment laws that prevent him from using his position of authority, this wouldn't be an issue.
I'm don't intend to speak on age-of-consent laws specifically, although 16 does seem to be quite young for someone to make a rational sexual decision. But I'm really hoping that folks who have been proponents of this "Constitutional right" to privacy will see how playing fast and loose with what is and isn't Constitutional is affecting society and what doors it is opening that ought to be kept shut.
Being a "strict Constitutionalist" is something of an insult liberals put on conservative judges and justices. When you consider cases like this, however, it ought to make more sense why our judiciary ought to be just that. The "Constitutional right" to privacy is not concrete; it is a a vapor. The penumbras of that vapor will continue to emanate out unless more strict Constitutionalists insist on text that has been properly ratified by the States.
May 30, 2006
International Law Hits Home
International law--law not passed or ratified by any United States governmental body--is sometimes being used to decide cases in the United States. Generally conservative justices are against that and moderate to liberal ones are for it. Regardless of the outcome of cases where international law was taken into consideration, Justice Scalia's observation that such cherry-picking of what laws to consider is so open to manipulation is advice well given, and hopefully well taken.
However, if you think that such decisions will generally be made on strictly the larger constitutional issues, you'd be wrong. Increasingly, the weight of international law is being felt right in the home.
A home schooling association is warning that the U.S., and even more so other countries, faces the threat that home schooling may be deemed illegal due to international law.
The Home School Legal Defense Association's (HSLDA) Chairman and General Counsel, Michael Farris, warns that even though the U.S. has never ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the convention may still be binding on citizens because of activist judges.
According to a new "interpretation" of what is known as "customary international law," some U.S. judges have ruled that, even though the U.S. Senate and President have never ratified the Convention, it is still binding on American parents. "In the 2002 case of Beharry v. Reno, one federal court said that even though the Convention was never ratified, it still has an 'impact on American law'," Farris explained. "The fact that virtually every other nation in the world has adopted it has made it part of customary international law, and it means that it should be considered part of American jurisprudence."
Under the Convention, severe limitations are placed on a parent's right to direct and train their children. As explained in a 1993 Home School Court Report by the HSLDA, under Article 13, parents could be subject to prosecution for any attempt to prevent their children from interacting with material they deemed unacceptable. Under Article 14, children are guaranteed "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" - in other words, children have a legal right to object to all religious training. And under Article 15, the child has a right to "freedom of association." "If this measure were to be taken seriously, parents could be prevented from forbidding their child to associate with people deemed to be objectionable companions," the HSLDA report explained.
Judges, it seems, are now the arbiters of what should and shouldn't be law. But a judge that makes a ruling in a case based on law that the citizens' representatives have rejected does so without giving the citizens any possible recourse. We can then be judged based on rules we have not the slightest influence in creating. How in the world is that government of the people and by the people? It is a further step away from our representative republic and towards a judicial tyranny; whoever controls the judges makes the rules.
And what sort of things can come from the innocuous-sounding "United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child"?
Farris explains that, in 1995, "the United Kingdom was deemed out of compliance" with the Convention "because it allowed parents to remove their children from public school sex-education classes without consulting the child". Farris argues that, "by the same reasoning, parents would be denied the ability to homeschool their children unless the government first talked with their children and the government decided what was best. This committee would even have the right to determine what religious teaching, if any, served the child's best interest."
I'm quite glad that Sandra Day O'Connor is no longer a part of the Supreme Court.
"I suspect," O'Connor said, according to the Atlanta daily, "that over time we will rely increasingly, or take notice at least increasingly, on international and foreign courts in examining domestic issues."
Doing so, she added, "may not only enrich our own country's decisions, I think it may create that all important good impression."
Because, as Bush's critics keep insisting, it's more important to have the rest of the world love us. Justice for Americans, and for the new republic of Iran, takes a back seat. Way back.
November 09, 2005
Judge Alito's Conservative Credentials
The Washington Post has a front page article today that tries to ease liberals fears about the possibility of Roe vs. Wade being overturned. But in fact the article only reinforces Judge Alito's conservative credentials. First, here's the misleading lead paragraph of the article:
Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. has signaled he would be highly reluctant to overturn long-standing precedents such as the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling, a move that has helped to silence some of his critics and may resolve a key problem early in the Senate confirmation process, several senators said yesterday.
At first glance, it would seem that Alito supports Roe. Reading further, it's clear that Alito is merely showing respect for the rule of law:
In private meetings with senators who support abortion rights, Alito has said the Supreme Court should be quite wary of reversing decisions that have been repeatedly upheld, according to the senators who said it was clear that the context was abortion.
"He basically said . . . that Roe was precedent on which people -- a lot of people -- relied, and been precedent now for decades and therefore deserved great respect," Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) told reporters after meeting with Alito yesterday. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she had a similar conversation about an hour later with Alito, who has made clear that he personally opposes abortion.
"I asked him whether it made a difference to him if he disagreed with the initial decision but it had been reaffirmed several times since then," Collins told reporters. "I was obviously referring to Roe in that question. He assured me that he has tremendous respect for precedent and that his approach is to not overturn cases due to a disagreement with how they were originally decided."
Collins, Lieberman and others cautioned that they did not directly ask Alito if he would vote to overturn Roe, and that his comments should not be seen as a guarantee of how he may rule. But the conversations appear to be building Alito's resistance to what might be the biggest impediment to his confirmation: liberals' claims that he is a threat to legalized abortion, which most Americans support, according to opinion polls.
One of the hallmarks of conservative jurisprudence is the respect for precedent. This does not mean that every case decided by the Supreme Court is set in stone and can never be overturned. However, it also does not mean that cases can be overturned based on the whims of the judge, either.
Liberal judges are notorious for ignoring precendents and deciding cases based on their own agenda rather than on the facts and the law. Ironically, it's liberals who are making the case that precendents need to be respected especially when it fits their political agenda. Once again, the hypocrisy of the Left is apparent.
But conservatives, especially pro-lifers, didn't help their cause during the debate over Harriet Miers' by insisting on a judge that would state they would overturn Roe. Judicial activism that ignores precedent is never justified even if the goal is admirable.
Respect for the rule of law is what helps maintain an orderly society. Judge Alito clearly respects the rule of law. He should make a terrific Supreme Court Justice.
October 31, 2005
Will Alito Cure the Republican Split?
There was quite a bit of infighting in the Republican party over the Miers nomination. Will the choice of Samuel Alito assuage that?
President Bush, stung by the collapse of his previous choice, nominated veteran judge Samuel Alito on Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his conservative allies. Ready-to-rumble Democrats warned that Alito may be an extremist who would curb abortion rights.
This bit of editorializing by the AP in a news story isn't quite accurate. Bush isn't (or shouldn't be) "mollifying" his conservative allies; he is (or ought to be) keeping his campaign promise of a judge in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. Democrats may not like the idea the Bush is keeping this promise...
So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.
...but that's to be expected. And Alito is known for being polite, but don't expect that to mollify the folks who didn't like Bolton for his temperament.
But it looks like conservatives, far from splitting from the party as many a Democrat was hoping, are sticking to principles.
Abortion emerged as a potential fault line. Democrats pointed to Alito's rulings that restricted a woman's right to abortion. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Republican who supports abortion rights, said that Alito's views on the hot-button issue "will be among one of the first items Judge Alito and I will discuss."
In a political twist, Republicans who helped sink Miers' nomination rallied to Alito's side.
A leading Democrat who backed Miers led the attack against Alito.
...but that's to be expected.
The fight to nominate Alito, a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1990, is one step in Bush's political recovery plan as he tries to regain his footing after a cascade of troubles _ including the indictment of the vice president's chief of staff _ rocked his presidency.
Some folks (including a commenter at Stones Cry Out) had suggested that this "rocking" would make getting this kind of nominee through, including the possible use of the "nuclear option", politically impossible. I have a feeling, though, that Bush's presidency hasn't been "rocked" nearly as badly as the AP or Democrats think.
No, the Republican party is as tight as ever, even if the President occasionally needs a reminder of who played a huge part in getting him to the dance.
October 27, 2005
Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Supreme Court. While I was on the fence about this, I have to say that I'm quite relieved that she's done this. Given speeches and remarks she'd made in the past (but post-conversion to Christianity, by the way), she didn't sound very much like Scalia and Thomas, as the President promised. Let's hope the next nominee fulfills that promise.
October 20, 2005
What if the Miers Nomination is Withdrawn?
President Bush has certainly taken a lot of heat, especially from conservatives, over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. What would happen if the President decided to withdraw the nomination? Carol Platt Liebau, in a column today on Human Events Online, says that withdrawing the nomination would be a terrible move:
First, recall that at the conclusion of the Roberts hearings, Republicans gleefully pointed out that 22 Democrats, led by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), had voted against a clearly qualified and truly outstanding nominee at the behest of far-left special interest groups. Forcing the President to withdraw the Miers nomination likewise would open Republicans to charges that the President is toeing a line laid down by a highly energized and vocal interest within his own party. That, in turn, would position the Democrats to argue, wrongly but credibly, that judicial selections are being dictated by an elite cadre of "scary extremists." Hardly the impression that Republicans want lingering in a voter’s mind on Election Day.
Moreover, for the past five years, Republicans have, quite rightly, faulted Senate liberals for imposing an ideological litmus test on judicial nominees. Noting that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed with a vote of 96-3 and that Antonin Scalia ascended the court on a 98-0 vote, Republicans have repeatedly invoked the days when nominees were evaluated on their qualifications and competence – not on their ideology. By opposing Ms. Miers on the basis of their worst (but yet unproven) fears about her political preferences or philosophy, conservative critics lend credibility to the argument that both judging itself and the evaluation of judicial nominations are irreducibly political exercises.
Finally, a premature withdrawal of the Miers nomination would create other political problems. Outside-the-beltway Republicans, along with evangelical leaders like Dr. James Dobson and Richard Land, look favorably on the Miers nomination. Anti-Miers rationales – ranging from "we're afraid she's not an originalist" to "she's not the best qualified candidate" to "the President should have picked someone else" – simply don't resonate with a significant portion of the Republican base. They see nothing amiss with Ms. Miers' credentials, and are inclined to trust the President's judgment on the nominee given his record on appellate judges, tax cuts, the war on terror and social security reform. Seeking to sabotage the Miers nomination before a hearing creates the misimpression within the party (and without) that some prominent Republicans disdain the achievements of a woman who is, at the very least, an accomplished legal practitioner and trailblazer.
I don't know whether the President expected the criticism he has received especially from fellow conservatives over this nomination. He's not been one to back down from a fight before. My guess is he'll run the risk of having the Senate deny Ms. Miers a seat on the Court before he would withdraw the nomination. Given the political fallout that could occur if he did withdraw the nomination it's probably better to go ahead and fight this one out even if it means losing the battle.
October 14, 2005
The Troubling Aspect of the Miers Nomination
Although I want to be able to trust President Bush's judgement in nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, I am experiencing increasing difficulty in supporting his decision. Statements that have been made about her being an evangelical Christian have done nothing to ease my reservations. In fact, in some respects, the invoking of her faith as the main reason for supporting her nomination has caused me even greater anxiety about her capabilities as a Supreme Court justice than before.
Stephen Crampton of the American Family Association apparently shares some of the same reservations and clearly articulates the problem with the nomination and the methods being used to defend Miers' selection (hat tip: Best of the Web):
Merely being an evangelical Christian does not automatically qualify one for any position. Specific knowledge and skills are required for almost any job, and sitting on the highest court in the land is not just any job. Dr. Dobson’s endorsement, while admittedly weighty, was predicated upon the private assurances of Ms. Miers’ friends and colleagues, and her church affiliation. While these may be important factors, they do not provide assurance that she possesses the necessary skills and knowledge for the job, and they do not settle for most of us the question of her judicial philosophy.
The fact that Ms. Miers is an evangelical Christian is irrelevant to the issue at hand: whether she is qualified to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. In fact, the first question that should have been asked is whether she is the best candidate available. Just because someone professes the same faith as I do doesn't make him or her the right person for the job especially one as important as this one.
October 11, 2005
Is Bush Playing the Long Game?
There's a good diary (promoted to "article") on Redstate.org suggesting why Harriet Miers may be the best nominee, given the current climate. The writer, "bamapachyderm", suggests that Bush may be playing the long game with the Miers pick. Via a plethora of linkage, he lays out the idea that this pick may have been made with an eye to the possible retirement of Justice Stevens. In short, if Stevens saw a die-hard conservative pick for the O'Conner seat, he would be less likely to decide to retire under a Bush presidency. However, if Stevens felt that Bush would choose a moderate, he may be more willing to step down sooner over health issues.
In the comments, "Winter Soldier" gives some further analysis, noting that (among a dozen other observations) of the judges that Bush has picked for the federal bench, there's "not a single Souter to date!" He even notes how the Miers pick fits Sun Tzu's methods for dealing with an adversary.
Are Bush and his advisors playing the long game; looking ahead farther that we are? It's quite possible, and these posts make a strong case for it.
October 05, 2005
Debate is Good
The nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court has really caused a back and forth in the Republican Party (and here at SCO). The Redstate.org site has good views from both sides of this. Check out these entries:
- Harriet Miers -- Political Play of the Year? [ambivalent]
- Let Us Condense [con]
- 48 Hours Later, Still the Wrong Nominee [con]
- Harriet Miers: Good for 2006 Midterm Elections [pro]
And these are just the most recent entries. Some may see the debate going on (competing articles as well as in the comments) as bad for the Republicans, but I disagree. When Bill Clinton was President, there was not nearly the objective criticism of him by Democrats as Republicans are willing to have of someone in their party. When Clinton signed NAFTA, for example, there was a bit of a murmur, but not much. I've always thought that conservatives were more honest about their beliefs; less party-driven and more principle-driven. This debate is confirming that.
August 22, 2005
Box 44: Pro Bono (2)
ProBono, seems like a simple thing, but I would rather call it:
For Sale: White House
It's my last Adopt a box assignment. I enjoyed this whole process though, but I must say if anyone else reads through these boxes and finds sometimes I missed, please email me or leave a comment. I would really appreciate it.
This last box has both interesting cases and nice perspectives on John Roberts. However, this mostly all took place in 1984, and with reelection looming, I'm guessing it influenced the docket though. But it didn't influence John Roberts. He presents the best legal argument in each case. Even in a case that may be politically helpful for the President, Roberts seems to agree only after the legal concerns are addressed. He's also concerned not just for technicalities of law but about things that may appear illegal even if they are not. And sometimes, he agrees that the best thing to do is not say anything - especially when someone threatens to put a lien against the sale of the White House.
But if you are interested in some more detail, then just keep reading...
1. New York County Lawyers Association
Memo from Roberts to Fred Fielding - 1/25/84 (p.3)
Roberts simply described a letter to the President regarding a report from the Assoc. on HR 4043. Apparently the bill was proposed to be amended by the House Committee on Science & Technology and the Association wanted to recommend additional proposals for the bill.
The bill was the Administration's "proposal to encourage joint research by reducing risk of anti-trust liability and eliminating the threat of treble damages for such ventures."
The Association agreed with the bill and was now reiterating its agreement in a report, to help promote risky and expensive research in areas vital to the national interest. Roberts wants to send a letter thanking the association for its report and advised to have it sent to justice and commerce.
There are some more memos and letters sending the same thanks and information back and forth.
Then there is the Association's letter to the President (p.8) with the attached report (pp 9- 17). But, what exactly is a risky, expensive kind of venture? The report says that with competitive research and under existing law research on such things as a better ball point pen or plastic coffee cup would proceed quite well, but that encouragement - through anti-trust and other means - is needed for such research as "space industrialization," "desalting of seawater" and "non-polluting power sources."
The report then goes on to recommend various specifics to the bill. Basically they want the President to define such ventures that would benefit from joint research so that the R&D community would know that they may proceed with said research. The dear was apparently that if the research firms felt that there was a chance that existing legislation would shut down their work they wouldn't even look into it or start spending the money. This recommendations therefore, were in the name of more and more research, with specific federal backing. However, I do appreciate the fact that they expect the President to consult with the technology industry, the scientific community and relevant government agencies before deciding which research goals would fall under the new guidelines.
It goes on and on and on, cause really - it wasn't written by one lawyer, but rather an entire association of them. They do quote Winston Churchill though (p.11), with which one can rarely go wrong.
They also nicely summarized (and underlined) their conclusions on p.17. I won't restate them here because...I've stated them already.
2. Farmland Industries
Memo from Roberts to Fred Fielding - 2/6/84
Someone wants their opinions on a draft letter from President Reagan to Farmland Industries ("FI"). Apparently the president of FI wrote Reagan, urging him to support "expansion of the Commodity Credit Corporation credit guarantee program" on behalf of " '500,000 farm families' ".
Wow. Could this relate to ethanol and corn in Iowa in some way too? It is 1984 after all.
Roberts closes his memo having no objection to the letter and since it is written to the president and not the company itself, there is no endorsement of FI to be considered. However, as cited in a memo dated 2/1/84 - they all had good reason to believe that this letter from the President would be printed in the FI newsletter and sent to all 500,000 letters.
Like I said. Election year, 1984. But who can blame them for talking about it amongst themselves.
The draft (pp.23-25) is written in true Ronald Reagan style, which means it is nice to read - even with all the agriculture talk. :)
Pages 26-27 display FI's original letter and the resolution agreed upon by its members.
3. Go America, Inc. (pp.28-32)
Group of documents concerning an offer from the president of this private company wanted to allow the President to use the Go America symbol throughout government and industry. Roberts memo to Fred Fielding on 2/6/84 (p.28) says accepting such an offer would be inappropriate since Go America is not a 501(c)(3) [non-profit] organization. Therefore, the President's use of the symbol would be his endorsement of the marketing of a private company.
Fielding agrees and passes that along to the Special Assistant to the President (p.29) and then we can read the Go America letter itself (pp.31-32).
Roberts was right about this one and the Democrats certainly can't accuse him of asking the President to help a "greedy corporation."
4. A Lien against the White House? (pp.33-47)
This is really bizarre and I don't even know that I understand it, but apparently Earl C. Berger believed that the administration had failed to pay some damages due because of some litigation and on August 22, 1983 Berger wrote the following to Craig Fuller
I am preparing litigation looking forward to executing and selling the White House of our President, because the Order for Remand has not been properly honored or carried out.
But I am not averse to compromise, and payments due to the teachers and to myself, as their attorney.
He's "looking forward" to selling the White House? Is he serious with this?
Apparently he was because the next letter was to Fred Fielding saying:
Letters to Mr. Fuller go unacknowledged or acted on. He ought to advise Mr. Reagan that his forthcoming campagin (sic) by functionaires, but can be avoided simply
Lastly, an unsigned letter to Mr. Futrell, president of the NEA, that contains many random spelling errors as well as the history of this grievance (p.47). Be prepared though, the scanning is particularly sketchy here.
So what happened? I don't have much of a clue except that some teachers paid some fees and then lost them and then, you know, decided that the best thing to do was to sell the White House. Good plan, that.
The catch for someone looking for one in all this insanity: The 1974 case "spawned litigation involving substantial attorneys fees in which I had some involvement at Hogan and Hartson. I suggest, therefore, that this matter be reassigned to someone else on the staff" (p.35).
However that Hogan & Hartson attorney here is not Roberts but rather one David Waller. This was years before Roberts would be with H&H. So could someone make a connection there? Maybe, if they wanted it.
But I'm still wondering, did anyone manage to sell the White House?
That's it. End of Box.
Box 35: Piracy on the High Seas
Again, nothing in this box to hurt Roberts. There's barely anything here written by Roberts himself - and what is there shows him to be cordial, helpful and adherent to protocol.
So, why write so much about this box? I was sucked in by all the talk of the "High Seas" ...
First subject in question of the Pardon: Ramiro De La Fe (who should really be known as Ramiro De La Fe et. al because there is a large group of defendants involved in the indictment, but apparently the pardon is only for De La Fe).
His warrant for arrest, dated July 26, 1967, is from Miami, Florida and requires Mr. De La Fe to "answer to an indictment charging him in conspiracy to commit piracy on the high seas; assault with a dangerous weapon; destruction of navigation appliances; unlawful boarding of a vessel on the high seas; in violation of Title 18, United States Code...."
Okay, first - piracy??
Second, "High Seas"? Is this some sort of technical nautical term?
Third, "Navigation appliances?" Appliances? So, something more than like a compass I guess?
Fourth, "High Seas"
And...fifth ...Piracy? Seriously?
We really need to get another name for that offense.
The indictment describes the conspirators plan to "commandeer a vessel" and take it to Cuba. Yes. Cuba. In 1967. Which makes it seem like a bigger offense. They planned to dismantle the radio (aka navigational appliance). In fact, they did indeed take the vessel using "dangerous weapons, that is, guns, with intent to do bodily harm" (p.15).
Finally, on that same page, "high seas" are defined here to mean "The Atlantic Ocean."
The Indictment doesn't indicate that De La Fe et. al. made it to Cuba, but they did get the vessel, using guns, take it to Florida and then take it away to the ocean again, at which points, one assumes, they were caught.
Now, that was 1967. All letters and memos included in this box are dated throughout 1983/1984.
Why 1983? Well, as a memo from David Stephenson, Acting Pardon Attorney to Fred Fielding, Counsel to the President explains -
On May 5, 1983 President Reagan approved a revision of the rules governing petitions for pardon and other forms of Executive clemency, the first revision since 1962.
So, new rules, that's why.
The memo explains the benefits of the new rules and then attaches the rules themselves, an obvious official description from the DOJ.
Anyway, most of the memos about this case written by Roberts himself that would have been in this box were restricted for reason "B6: Release would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
Next case: fast forward to Nov.15, 1984 - A Roberts Letter on White House Stationary to "Mr. Goldsmith." (p.20)
Roberts says Goldsmith's letter was referred to him by Chief of Staff, James Baker. Apparently, Goldsmith was mad because he helped the US Attorney's Office and wasn't set free from custody afterward. He also said he had a pending pardon request. Roberts asks that Goldsmith understand the protocol matters here, saying that "it would be inappropriate for the White House to interfere in any way with the decision of the Parole Commission, or to interfere with the processing of your application before the Acting Pardon Attorney."
I think it was quite kind of Roberts to let Goldsmith know what was going on, not only that, but Roberts goes on to say that he referred Goldsmith's letter to the DOJ.
Next Memo from Roberts to Roger Clegg - Assoc. Deputy Attorney General. (p.21)
Roberts forwarded letters from an inmate as well as his own reply to Clegg.
However, those other documents are not in the box. Just the memo.
Then there's a White House tracking sheet re: Goldsmith and then another restriction form with reason B6 cited again.
Finally, a letter dated 10/1/84 on Congress of the United States letterhead to the Parole Commission on behalf of Goldsmith from Peter W. Rodino. (p. 24-25)
Rodino (D-NJ) admits to not knowing Goldsmith personally, but here again is the mention of Goldsmith's cooperation, specifically with the DEA. For this, he should be freed apparently. Rodino's logic "One must conclude that Mr. Goldsmith's experience was at least equivalent to and far more severe than any incarceration could have been."
Personally, I think Congress should have followed Roberts' lead and stayed out of it. Roberts was correct to cite such protocol in matters of pardons. They are sensitive subjects and are best handled in the most careful way, without concern for congressional politics. And what was Goldsmith doing writing to a New Jersey Congressman? Did he send letters to all of Congress? Talk about a fishing expedition.
Last two papers in the box are restriction documents on parole hearings and testimonies citing both B6 and "B7: Release would disclose information compiled for law enforcement purposes" and also "C: Closed in accordance with restrictions contained in donor's deed of gift."
So as I said, nothing here to hurt Roberts. But could we hear about the "High Seas" one more time, please?? :)
August 20, 2005
The Iran Emergency in Box 29
I volunteered to Adopt a Box O Docs - Documents released by the Reagan Library concerning John Roberts' years in the White House Counsel's office. The program is organized by Hugh Hewitt & Generalissimo Duane.
My Assignment: Box 29 - Iran Emergency
Bottom Line: There's really nothing here that can hurt Roberts. He penned a few memos that basically passed along White House Counsel's legal OK on a report to Congress and an accompanying notice. If the Left accuses Roberts of not caring about commas, underlining, or basic math, then we can counter with these memos, otherwise there's not much to say.
The documents as a whole are interesting nonetheless, and so here is my full report:
The main document in this box is titled "National Emergency With Respect to Iran" or also "The Semi-Annual Report to Congress on Iran Emergency."
The report is included 3 different times, first on what looks like internal White House stationary (p.7-11), second in two-column format with the header "Administration of Ronald Reagan 1985/Apr 22" (p.12-14) and third on paper with the headline "THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary" (p.21-24).
Preceding the report is a notice, extending the state of emergency with Iran.
There are two memos to the President from Secretary of the Treasury James Baker. The first (p.6) advises the President that he must make this report to congress. The second (p.18) advises him that he must publish the notice in the Federal Register in order to be sure that the Nov 14, 1979 "declaration of national emergency with respect to Iran" not be allowed to expire on Nov 14, 1985. Sec Baker warns:
If the Iran emergency were allowed to lapse, the Government would be limited to existing measures regarding Iran. This could prevent you from taking steps necessary to implement the January 1981 agreements with Iran, from effectuating new settlements with Iran, or from protecting the interests of U.S. nationals with claims against Iran. It could also impair the Government's position in litigation involving Iran.
Who knew that seemingly insignificant small pieces of paper like a "notice" could be so important in the Government's foreign policy. I guess I just wonder whether James Baker was really concerned about the lapse or whether his memo was a matter of protocol.
The report itself discusses the trials going on at the tribunal and the various ways claims were decided one way or another. There were claims by individuals and organizations and various Government departments were also involved including Justice, Treasury and State concerning the Algiers Accords.
Either way, the report came from the White House and was given the Ok by Roberts and the Counsel's office, not the other way around.
Roberts himself wrote three memos for Staff Secretary David Chew.
1. November 12, 1985 (p.2) Roberts relays information from Treasury and State about stats in the report concerning the number of claimants and confirms a proposed change in language - moving from the date the Congress passed a bill (July 31) to the date the President signed it (Aug 16). These corrections were made by the final version of the report in this box on pages 21-24.
2. November 6, 1985 (p.3) This memo was obviously written first. It confirms Counsel's review of the report and request some changes. One involved a total number of small claimants. This change was not reflected in any version of the report. The other was the above stated change regarding the dates on the bill. Roberts states that the "legally significant date is the date the President signed the bill into law."
3. October 30, 1985 (p.15) This earliest memo concerns the notice of extending the Iran Emergency. Roberts stated that Counsel found "no objection from a legal perspective" but proposes some changes to punctuation "[s]oley in the interests of stylistic conformity with last year's notice." It's all about the commas and the underlining.
The final version of the report was released on November 13, 1985.
July 01, 2005
SCOTUS: Equal Opportunity Employer
Yes, Justice O'Connor has resigned. Did you know she was a woman? That has seemed to be a big issue for months now, like there should be pressure to appoint another woman. Well, it would be nice, but I think that the Supreme Court is the last place we should be applying Affirmative Action.
And so I make the same argument I would make at any time against this sort of thing - pick the most qualified person. (And of course, as a conservative, I suggest picking a conservative, but I assume that suggestion to be superfluous.) Mostly I'd say just try not to pick someone who will have a legacy of holding middle ground.
And while I haven't had much time to watch television news coverage since this announcement, I'm really hoping that this is taking up some of the Aruba time allotment.
However, if it has to be a woman, Kathryn Jean Lopez and the rest of The Corner are voting for Katie O'Beirne.
[And while you're at The Corner, check out some amusing reader generated Reuters spoofs. Including this one:
Justice O'Connor formerly served as a judge of the Superior Court in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio runs a jail reminiscent of the gulags of the former Soviet Union.]