Category Archives: “The Constitution”

The Old Republic Is Dead-Bob Murphy

Consulting by RPM || Free Advice Blog

via The Old Republic Is Dead.

If I were more computer-savvy I’d have my blog play the Empire theme music right now. Regardless of your views on the wisdom of invading Afghanistan and Iraq, of torturing POWs, etc., surely you can agree with me that we have definitively crossed “the line.” I probably put the line in a different ZIP code from where you do, but even so, our government has crossed both of our lines. From Reuters (HT2 Alex Tabarrok):

American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

Now people like Glenn Greenwald are emphasizing that this report quotes White House officials admitting the evidence against Awlaki was “patchy.” I don’t even care about that. Just go read the two paragraphs above. Seriously, please re-read those two paragraphs.

The Old Republic is dead. My American friends, we are the citizens of an empire. If the people running the US government decide you are an enemy, they can put you on a list and have a drone blow you up. Case closed. If you don’t want to get blown up, just make sure they don’t have a reason to want you dead.

Terrifying Prospects and the Constitution

The prospects of constitutional challenges to progressive legislation undoing said legislation seem to have waxed with the progress of challenges to “Obamacare”.  All in all, I support a safety net that includes health care.  That said, the dismissive attitude of former speaker Pelosi to the whole question of constitutionality of laws she supports was disturbing.  It would seem to me that liberals should take seriously the idea of constitutionality of reforms they support, and perhaps constitutional amendments needed to make them pass legal muster.

Liberals need to delineate and support constitutional limits on the use of federal power for social welfare, despite their enthusiasm for it.

Why?  Because limits on laws due to the constitution provide protection from people in power you may not like.  Consider this suggestion from Steve Landsberg:

Paul Krugman wisely reminds us that:

The odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

Yes, a terrifying prospect — and an excellent reason to limit the powers of ruling parties, though Paul never seems to notice this.

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Terrifying Prospects
Steve Landsburg
Mon, 29 Aug 2011 04:23:43 GMT

The same can be said for conservatives.  They support law enforcement usually without reservation.  They ought to recognize that the police power they cede to George Bush would and for now at least are in the hands of a President they mostly barely hold above contempt. 

Conservatives need to delineate and support constitutional limits on police power, despite their enthusiasm for it.

Articles: A Conservative’s Practical Guide to Challenging Libertarianism

Articles: A Conservative’s Practical Guide to Challenging Libertarianism.

This shows the confused thinking of movement conservatives.

Apology accepted, Mr. Murdoch. Now how about Bush and Obama?

 

Lopez: "A professional clown sneaks in and throws a pie in Rupert Murdoch’s face. He’ll go to jail and have a record. And he’ll be immortalized among that wacky society known as comedians. Surprised no one’s done it before. I abhor it, of course." Lawson: "I just don’t understand our world. Our government, complete with guns, electric chairs, and prisons, can snoop, hack, bug, and pry with impunity and NO ONE CARES. A few reporters, armed with mere pens, do it and it’s apparently the moral crisis of our age?" Lopez: "I’m reminded of George W. Bush’s insistence, to unseemly lengths, in 2004 that he had the right to listen to anyone’s conversations. And he got re-elected for it. Below is a paste of a Glen Greenwald piece in Salon from last month. It’s got to be one of the most vivid examples of lawyers upholding the rule of law, and shows where the line is drawn for giving impunity to people acting in their official capacity. It’s just drawn way too far out. The Murdoch situation shows us that. These lawyers, evidently despite political loyalties, were keeping the President from abusing his powers. “Comey explained that, in 2004, shortly after he became Deputy AG, he reviewed the NSA eavesdropping program Bush had ordered back in 2001 and concluded it was illegal. Other top administration lawyers — including Attorney General John Ashcroft and OLC Chief Jack Goldsmith — agreed with Comey, and told the White House they would no longer certify the program’s legality. It was then that Bush dispatched Gonzales and Andy Card to Ashcroft’s hospital room to try to extract an approval from the very sick Attorney General, but, from his sickbed, Ashcroft refused to overrule Comey. Bush decided to reject the legal conclusions of his top lawyers and ordered the NSA eavesdropping program to continue anyway, even though he had been told it was illegal (like Obama now, Bush pointed to the fact that his own White House counsel (Gonzales), along with Dick Cheney’s top lawyer, David Addington, agreed the NSA program was legal). In response, Ashcroft, Comey, Goldsmith, and FBI Director Robert Mueller all threatened to resign en masse if Bush continued with this illegal spying, and Bush — wanting to avoid that kind of scandal in an election year — agreed to "re-fashion" the program into something those DOJ lawyers could approve (the "re-fashioned" program was the still-illegal NSA program revealed in 2005 by The New York Times; to date, we still do not know what Bush was doing before that that was so illegal as to prompt resignation threats from these right-wing lawyers).”…

Apology accepted, Mr. Murdoch. Now how about Bush and Obama?
ejlopez
Tue, 19 Jul 2011 17:48:36 GMT

America’s 10 Biggest Constitutional Myths – Atlantic Mobile

America’s 10 Biggest Constitutional Myths – Atlantic Mobile.

This is a pretty left wing view of the constitution.  I don’t necessarily buy into the constitution making it impossible to create a modern social safety net, but it does seem to the constitution is intended to limit governmental power.  While I may disagree with much of the promised series, I hope to post and comment on much of it.

Judicial Overreach

Judicial Overreach
Steve Landsburg
Wed, 09 Feb 2011 07:01:26 GMT

Along with Mike Rizzo at the Unbroken Window, I am ambivalent about the Florida district court ruling thats strikes down Obamacare (by first striking down the mandate for individuals to be insured). Yes, Obamacare is bad policy; yes, it’s arguably unconstitutional. But as bad and unconstitutional policies go, it’s relatively benign. I (like Rizzo) am uncomfortable with a judiciary that can reject Obamacare while accepting agricultural subsidies, affirmative action, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and laws that dictate the size of your showerhead.

WordPress Tags: Judicial,Florida,district,Obamacare,judiciary,policies

In fact, unlike, say, agricultural subsidies, the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance is at least a defensible response to a genuine problem — in fact, it’s a defensible response to two genuine problems.

First, as long as people are uninsured, they are going to show up at emergency rooms demanding care, and they are going to get it. Arguably, the best policy is to turn those people away unless they’re able and willing to cover the costs of their own care, but we all know that’s never going to happen. Given that we’re going to make medical care available to everyone, there’s at least an argument for making everyone pay for it.

Second, there really are good arguments for insuring people regardless of (at least some) pre-existing conditions; most of us would have insured against those conditions before we were born if we’d had the opportunity, and the inability of pre-born souls to sign insurance contracts can be seen as a form of market failure that bears correcting. But if you don’t allow discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions, then you’ve pretty much got to have an individual mandate; otherwise everyone waits till they get sick to buy insurance and the whole system breaks down.

Now the Obamacare system is very far from my preferred approach to these problems, but at least it’s a plausible response to a real set of problems, and hence arguably amounts to a system of taxes designed to provide for the general welfare of the United States, as allowed under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. That’s a lot more than you can say about, say, mandatory wheelchair ramps, the cost of which often far exceeds what you’d have to pay the wheelchair-bound to compensate for their absence. It’s a lot more than you can say about the Post Office, or the Commerce Department, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In Mike Rizzo’s words:

the insurance mandate is not nearly as horrific as opponents like to suggest (even as it cuts against the very core foundational principles I hold). It is applied equally to all. It does not seem arbitrary. People seem to be able to plan with some certainty regarding it. Yes, the insurers get a good deal here, but it is a rule that is pretty consistent with the Rule of Law … On the scale of repulsive things he government does, it is nowhere near the top.

Had the health care plan been packaged with a public insurance option, I’d be the first to call for judicial intervention to strike it down. The government has no more business running an insurance company than it would, say, an auto manufacturer — speaking of which, where were the courts when we really needed them? And there are a lot of other areas where I’d like to see the courts take a more expansionary view of individual rights. But I’m not prepared to call for unelected judges to overturn every piece of legislation that I happen to consider misguided. There is such a thing as judicial overreach, and I think we’re seeing it.

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Judicial Overreach
Steve Landsburg
Wed, 09 Feb 2011 07:01:26 GMT

The Supremacy Clause

EconLog: Library of Economics and Liberty

via The Supremacy Clause.