Yesterday's Associated Press headline "Gonzales Promises Non-Torture Policy" was a devastating sign of just how far our country's integrity has slipped -- yet it was also a bit reassuring. In reaction to an attack killing thousands of Americans, and al-Qaeda's stated desire to kill four million Americans, the government allowed itself a little leeway and risked a bit of overreach; now, three years later, the government has come to the conclusion that a more restrained course is optimal. What's really wrong with that?
When conservatives denounce “activist judges,” they usually have the socially liberal decisions of some lower courts in mind. But the real judicial activists, according to Thomas Keck, a political science professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, are the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. TAP's Jeffrey Dubner recently talked with Keck about the current Court, the imminent resignation of its chief justice, and Keck's new book, The Most Activist Supreme Court in History.
Why do you call the current Supreme Court “activist”?
“Abysmal.” “Unrealistic.” “Unwise.” Liberals and Democrats who utter these words are derided as “Bush haters.” But when such epithets come from Republicans, including some of the most important conservative figures of the last few decades, a different insult is often appropriate: “hypocrites.” On issue after issue, conservatives have watched this president betray their hopes and, worse, make future progress all the more difficult. Yet few have followed these complaints to their logical conclusion.
As the Bush-Cheney campaign looks to define John Kerry's partnership with John Edwards as yet another flip flop, it hopes that a historical echo will go unheard. "When John Kerry's first choice for a running mate turned him down, he turned to the polls," today's Bush-Cheney press release reads. "John Kerry's selection of John Edwards is a flip flop on the most important decision a candidate for the presidency makes in the course of his campaign."
Among the many shocking details of the Abu Ghraib debacle is the Taguba report's estimation that more than 60 percent of the detainees were civilians "of no intelligence value," many of whom were nevertheless denied release. It is not yet known how many of the prisoners subjected to the outrageous abuses and tortures now coming to light were, in fact, civilians charged with either petty crimes or no crimes at all.
The images of Iraqi protesters, many of them family members of detainees, appealing to international journalists outside Abu Ghraib brought to mind the undeniable fact that, while conditions in Iraq may be better than they were under the rule of Saddam Hussein, and may be improving still, the lives of millions of individual Iraqi citizens are in shambles.