ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT
[December 12, 2000]
Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer join, dissenting….
….Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today’s decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.
I respectfully dissent.
For a few years leading up to and through the 2000 election I had been a party activist. I ran and was elected as a Gore delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles from Missouri’s 4th Congressional District. The December 12, 2000 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court was the beginning of my journey down the path where I find myself today.
In the weeks following the court’s decision I formulated a plan to produce a partisan bumper sticker which would comment on the case. I tried out a few designs, including “Jews for Buchanan”, and finally selected “the one” (with the advice of a few friends) raising the money to print 1500 of them. The entire process took a few months. As I recall we had them ready in June or July 2001 and distributed them around Missouri and to friends across the country.
We waited for and devoured books about the recount and the Supreme Court case – because we had to. Jeffery Toobin’s Too Close To Call and Vincent Bugliosi’s The Betrayal Of America were the best of the lot, especially Molly Ivin’s forward in the latter. Ten years latter blogs give us instant communities and organizing and audiences with no waiting. We didn’t know how to do this at the time. It took us a while to learn.
On July 20, 2001 I participated in my first public protest against dubya’s administration at Dick Cheney’s tax cut photo-op at the Treasury Service Center in Kansas City. The story was my first front page blog post. The photos were taken with a film camera (digital was still too expensive) and the prints were scanned.
I helped organize another protest (but could not attend) when dubya came to Independence, Missouri to speak at Truman High School (yes, the irony was not lost on any of us) in August 2001.
The media coverage was fawning and uniformly bad for both events. I knew at the time that things had to change. I just didn’t know how to go about creating that change.
I did learn some early lessons along the way:
….Grandmothers make the best protesters. They don’t take crap from anyone.
In October 2004 George W. Bush made a campaign swing through Missouri, traveling by bus caravan through Warrensburg via U.S. Highway 50 after speaking at a large outdoor rally at Lee’s Summit High School in eastern Jackson County. I received a communication reminding me of some of the circumstances in Warrensburg when George W. Bush, then President of the United States, made that campaign swing:
…In late October 2004, during the presidential contest between George Bush and John Kerry, Bush’s campaign buses made a quick swing through Warrensburg. In response to this partisan political event, every third grader at Martin-Warren Elementary School was marched to the town square [the Johnson County Courthouse grounds] to witness Bush’s buses driving by.
The third-graders crossed Highway 13 and walked a considerable distance. The parents had not been notified of this field trip and were never given the opportunity to either grant or deny permission to go. Students at the Middle School and Ridgeview Elementary were also dismissed from classes and brought roadside where they were instructed to wave at Bush’s buses.
The students lost out on classroom instruction time and were not exposed to any educational, or enriching concepts which might have been discussed or debated later.
Compare the actions of the Warrensburg School District then to its recent response to President Obama’s civic-oriented back-to-school speech. Just as several Republican presidents have done before him, President Obama wanted to recognize the onset of a new school year and encourage students to do their best. When Presidents George H.W. Bush and Reagan delivered similar speeches, did local school districts prevent students from hearing them?
Remaining mindful that students learn through example, let’s do better in the future by displaying the honorable values of fairness,
Area’s school districts question value of back-to-school speech
…Warrensburg School District Superintendent Deb Orr said, “Our staff and administrators are going to view the video and decide how to use it.”
District officials are not sure, for example, whether the message would have meaning for elementary school children, Orr said, but social studies students might benefit from hearing and discussing what Obama says.
“We are going to notify the parents about when we are going to use the video,” she said, and parents can decide whether their children opt in or out of the presentation…
Due to public interest in this matter, the Department of Justice is releasing these documents in an inaccessible format. Accessible versions will be posted as soon as possible. If you have a disability and the format of any material on the site interferes with your ability to access some information, please email the Department of Justice webmaster at email@example.com. To enable us to respond in a manner that will be of most help to you, please indicate the nature of the accessibility problem, your preferred format (electronic format (ASCII, etc.), standard print, large print, etc.), the web address of the requested material, and your full contact information so we can reach you if questions arise while fulfilling your request…
The stenographer holds forth on lame responses to presidential addresses:
…Last year, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius redefined “stiff” when she delivered the Democratic response. This year, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal placed a deep dent in his 2012 presidential express.
Why doesn’t it work? One big reason: You move from the energy of a vibrant president speaking to a joint session of Congress to a lone figure staring straight ahead and reading an often formulaic script…
Uh, even a year ago “vibrant” wasn’t an adjective anyone in politics was using to describe dubya.
WASHINGTON – American President George Bush grimaced, sighed, rambled and chuckled under his breath on Tuesday, before saying he could not think of a single mistake he had made since the September 11 attacks….
On the other hand, President Obama (that has a nice ring to it) is candid:
“…Well, I, you know, I think this was a mistake. I think I screwed up. Uh, and, you know, I take responsibility for it. And we’re going to make sure we fix it so it doesn’t happen again.”
The first step in learning from your mistake is admitting that you made it. Then you attempt to not repeat the mistake. That is something that was (and still is) a congenital impossibility for dubya.
Yesterday George Will, of all people, was comparing Obama refusing to prosecute Bush and Cheney to Ford pardoning Nixon.
If a far right crazed wingnut can get it right, why can’t the rest of us?
This comparison is one that we can use to good effect, but only if we do it continuously and loudly.
A friend of mine this morning, a nearly unquestioning Obama supporter, said to me, and I quote:
No argument from me.
Ford should have been stood against the wall and shot for that pardon.
Nixon cooling his heels in the clink for a few years would have prevented this mess, no doubt.
Ford’s pardon of Nixon was the beginning of the end of any hope Ford had of being politically effective, and absolutely killed his future chances for reelection.
So let’s see… if Obama doesn’t want a political blood bath that might define his first term as him being a bush enabler and a torture excuser and might drown him, then he’ll tell Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor, and answer Fertik’s question directly himself, instead of hiding behind excuses and Joe Biden, since according to Biden it is not the job of the president or the vice president, but of the Justice department.
Ford’s pardon of Nixon killed Ford politically, and not prosecuting Bush and Cheney has to kill Obama politically.
There has to be a political price to pay for not doing it, or he will not do it. Why would he, if there is no price to pay for not doing it and the price for doing it is high?
With things like the petition, Fertik’s insistent embarrassing questioning, people like Ari Melber doing their best to force the issue into the media, people need to force the price for not doing it so high that Obama and Holder cannot ignore it.
People did it to Ford. If people are willing to let Obama slide on this, then there is no reason Obama will not let Bush and Cheney slide on torture and war crimes.
It’s not up to Obama. It’s up to us. It’s up to me. It’s up to you.
If Obama were to announce right now that he was going to prosecute those who engaged in torture and war crimes, I understand it could trigger a rash of unwanted pardons before Bush left office and therefore it’s smart for him to hold his cards close.
“My orientation’s going to be to move forward,” Obama said. The attorney general has to stay above politics and “uphold the Constitution,” Obama added, but his administration will focus on “getting things right in the future as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.”
Any decision to not pursue those who broke the law is in no way “above politics” — and if we were going to apply this principle across the board, it would have as Ari Melber notes rather strange implications:
No one argues against prosecuting Bernie Madoff so that the Justice Department can focus on fixing the economy, going forward. In fact, faithfully and uniformly enforcing the law is crucial to “getting things right in the future.” Any deterrence produced via criminal sanction is undermined when future, potential offenders see that a law is not actually enforced. People are more likely to follow the law when they see that breaking it carries consequences. This is such a basic foundation of our criminal system, justified by the elemental rationales of deterrence and retribution, it is quite hard to imagine that so many seasoned attorneys and Washington journalists honestly believe that the best way “forward” is to undermine deterrence and the rule of law.
Obama decision to appoint Eric Holder and Leon Panetta, who have made strong statements against torture, does indeed imply that he intends to “get it right” going forward.
But it is disconcerting that, as Glenn Greenwald observes, Obama indicated yesterday he is looking for a way to set up a system outside the courts where evidence obtained by torture can be used against Guantanamo detainees.
Glenn discusses Obama’s interview with George Stephanopolous:
What he’s saying is quite clear. There are detainees who the U.S. may not be able to convict in a court of law. Why not? Because the evidence that we believe establishes their guilt was obtained by torture, and it is therefore likely inadmissible in our courts (torture-obtained evidence is inadmissible in all courts in the civilized world; one might say it’s a defining attribute of being civilized). But Obama wants to detain them anyway — even though we can’t convict them of anything in our courts of law. So before he can close Guantanamo, he wants a new, special court to be created — presumably by an act of Congress — where evidence obtained by torture (confessions and the like) can be used to justify someone’s detention and where, presumably, other safeguards are abolished. That’s what he means when he refers to “creating a process.”
The synergy between right-wing fans of 24 who think torture is cool, members of the Bush administration who carried it out and the DC chattering class who mainstreamed it has created a climate where the political threat of directly dealing with the legacy of torture looms large.
Don’t expect me to or even ask me to tel
l you why you should sign the petition.
You already know why you should sign the petition. You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you why you should sign the petition.
There is no more debate on these matters. The only people who want to continue debating these matters are war criminals who want to be let off the hook and supporters of letting war criminals off the hook.
As President, Obama will have the constitutional duty to faithfully execute our laws.
The constitutional oath of office will require President Obama to faithfully execute the office of President and preserve, protect and defend our Constitution. Our constitution also requires that our presidents “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The principle of the rule of law is partially based on this Faithfully Execute clause which requires our President to comply with laws, our Constitution and treaties because our Constitution established a government of laws, not of men and women.
The Geneva Convention is one of the laws which must be faithfully executed.
Our constitution mandates that treaties are one of the laws that the President must faithfully execute. Moreover, treaties are recognized as one of our supreme laws of the land alongside our Constitution and federal laws. For over 200 years, the federal courts have reaffirmed that our President is bound by the laws of war, which include conventions. In fact, both Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006)addressed issues of whether the US government was violating the terms of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Yet, some will whine that it is partisan to not exempt Bush from 200 years of precedent that governed presidents from both parties.
The Geneva Convention imposes a duty to prosecute former presidents who committed war crimes.
You already have your own reasons why you should sign the petition.
All the reasons that built up, piled one on top of the other for that past eight years as these criminals hijacked the country, dismantled the constitution and the rule of law, made their criminal friends fabulously wealthy, were directly responsible for the deaths of more than a million Iraqis in an illegal and immoral invasion and occupation, destroyed the global economy, wrecked America’s reputation around the world, and called you a traitor when you cried foul and set up schemes to spy on you and intimidate you into silence.
And tortured people in your name. Tortured people. In your name. Tortured people with the blackest, most heinous and most evil torture methods known to humanity. Tortured people with methods that America has pressed war criminal charges against other countries citizens for using. Tortured people with the most sadistic and evil methods the Spanish Inquisition and more recently the Khmer Rouge made a regular habit of using as an oppression tool. Tortured people with methods that have been universally condemned and outlawed by virtually every country and society on earth.
You already know. You already know all of your own reasons why you should sign the petition.
Bet you didn’t know that Cheney had been held accountable for his role in arranging that the United States involve itself in torture. When a questioner at Claire’s “Kitchen Table Talk” in St. Louis on Thursday asked the senator what she thought should be done about recent revelations, Claire said … well, let’s let her say it. (The video begins partway through the questioner’s remarks. The woman, a single mother struggling with two mortgages, is nevertheless concerned about more than just the economy.)
God does have a sense of humor, but she’s still pissed.
Of course it’s all over the news and blogs. I’m not sure most people realize the scope and breadth of the insult.
My mother and aunts were raised in a French colony in North Africa. As a result, as children, we – my sibling, my cousins and I – were exposed to the variety of cultural mores in our parents’ lives in a number of practical ways. When we got into some mischief which upset them the adults would reach for and remove a shoe from their foot.
When that happened we knew we were in serious trouble.
…On Saturday afternoon, law agents surrounded 951 Iglehart Av. in St. Paul where members of I-Witness Video, a New York-based group that monitors police conduct during protests, were staying. They were detained and handcuffed but eventually freed without charges…
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Bruce Nestor: They were charged with conspiracy to commit riot, which is about as bullshit a charge — about as thin a charge — as you could possibly come up with. And I say that as a lawyer.
Glenn Greenwald: How do you distinguish between that and a protest?
Bruce: You can’t. It basically criminalizes political advocacy. I mean, the essence of conspiracy law is if a single individual takes an overt act towards accomplishing an illegal goal such as purchasing a brick, and the police then claim that someone else in his group has an intent to throw that brick, then everyone who advocates that you attend that demonstration…
Glenn: Even if you’re not intending to commit that crime…
Bruce: …even though you’re not intending to commit the crime, could all be charged with conspiracy….
It’s their party and they’ll desecrate the Constitution if they want to.
Heaven protect us from long (and short) haired protesters with large puppets and smart mouths. Puh-leaze.