Monday, January 09, 2006

Super Monday

My, today is a big day.

First, down here, is the start of the confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito. A few fun observations.

The Emperor, in introducing the man who promises to give him more power, says "The Supreme Court is a dignified place. Sam's a dignified guy." You would think the President, in making a formal announcement in regard to the nomination, might make the announcement dignified by, perhaps, calling him "Judge Alito" rather than "Sam." Of course, Dubya and his penchant for nicknames is quite famous. And, Your Highness, the people who sit on the Supreme Court are Justices, not Judges. We know you don't really care for any sort of judicial restraint, but please at least go through the motions.

Of course, given that nominees now regularly refuse to answer questions on issues that may come before them, when asked about the limits of presidential power, he'll probably refuse to answer, since this is an issue which is clearly going to come up (NSA wire tapping, Padilla, enemy combattants . . .) So when asked to respond to Justice O'Connor's statement that "We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens," he'll probably take the judicial equivalent of the Fifth.

This is a shame. The limits of presidential power is shaping up to be a defining issue of the current administration, and Dubya seems to believe that, in war, there is no limit, Congress and the law notwithstanding. Given Bush's previous nominees have shown strong deference to the Executive (the CJ through his practice and his opinions, Harriet Miers through her "You're the best governor ever!!!!!!!!!" notes), one can hardly doubt that Alito shares their view. The Washington Post's editorial nicely sets out what's at stake here, as does David Broder's comment.

And the second interesting thing today are the second round of leaders' debates in Canada. Mike B's commentary on that is far more insightful and deeper than mine, so I'll tag him to talk more.

But still, how's a poor boy like me to concentrate on the use of video evidence of prior consistent statements at trial to demonstrate consistency and truthfulness of the current testimony when there are so very many distractions?!?

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