Mixed messages

While Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is advocating limits to judicial independence, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, our own Sen. Arlen Specter, seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

On the recent passage of the detainee legislation, quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“The Constitution expressly says you can’t suspend habeas corpus unless you have an invasion or a rebellion,” Specter said.

“I did my best to get Congress to do the job, and when I couldn’t get sufficient votes, the next alternative is the courts,” he continued. “This is not going to stop somebody from filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus. They are going to file it. I think the District Court may disregard the statute and go ahead and hear it.”

Read: Congress can’t be trusted to pass decent legislation, so let’s leave it to the courts to correct our mistakes.

Looks like Specter’s keeping the job market open for “activist judges.” I’m all in favor of judicial independence. But how can we trust Congress to hold the administration accountable for its abuses of power if they won’t hold themselves accountable for enacting legislation that passes constitututional muster?

Jess in Philly

2 thoughts on “Mixed messages

  1. I don’t think we can trust our elected leaders. Period.

    Our whole system of writing and passing legislation is, in my opinion, flawed. A possible fix would be to change the way bills are drafted by limiting their scope. For instance, a (hypothetical) bill written to protect children should not contain any “pork” or other clauses that do not pertain to the protection of children. In our present system, one might find some obscure “extra” that gives $40,000 dollars to farmers in Kansas; another “extra” that passes legislation on shoe polish ingredients (because that’s always a danger to children, right?), and so on.

    The Patriot Act is a prime example of horribly drafted legislation.

    Yet it is these “pork” projects that actually get Senators and Reps to sign on for a vote. It’s absurd.

    I have no confidence in any politican. And it is interesting to me that politicians need to “convince” us of how wonderful their legislation is rather than actually listening to their constituents and discovering what we really want to see happen.

    To all politicans: Stop selling us snake oil laws (stop being bought off by special interest groups), listen to us, and do what we, the citizens who elected you into office, think is right for a change. And to that, stop the petty backbiting and do some work for once besides passing legislation that gives you a raise each year, you lazy gits.

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