Jeffrey Dubner

Jeffrey Dubner is an associate editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Inherently Wrong

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? What's wrong, unfortunately, is that attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales said nothing of the sort -- and, so far, has continued not to disavow torture in his double-speaking confirmation hearing. His opening remarks set the scene: After the attacks of 9/11, our government had fundamental decisions to make concerning how to apply treaties and U.S. law to an enemy that does not wear a uniform, owes no allegiance to any country, is not a party to any treaties and --...

Hyper Activists

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”? There are several reasons why I reach that conclusion. Perhaps the most striking reason is that the [post-1994] Rehnquist Court has struck down federal statutes as unconstitutional more frequently than at any previous point in the Court's history. The Court has struck down 33 federal statutes since 1995, which is a literally unprecedented rate. The phrase “judicial activism” is a frequent whipping boy, but what does...

Put Up or Shut Up

“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. What follows is a list of some -- but by no means all -- of the public criticisms of the Bush administration issued by prominent figures all along the right half of the political spectrum. With three notable exceptions, the people on this list have explicitly or tacitly supported George W. Bush's re-election, raising the questions: Have they seen reasons to think another four years would be any better than the first? or are they putting party loyalty or personal interest above what they...

Pot, Kettle, Black

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." Except for the names, however, the criticism would more accurately assail another opposition ticket: Reagan-Bush '80. After a high-profile rejection by former President Gerald Ford during the Republican National Convention in July 1980, Ronald Reagan settled on the moderate George H.W. Bush, his main rival in the primaries. July 16, the day on which Reagan was to be officially nominated, found Reagan and his aides in serious negotiations with Ford to assemble a seemingly unstoppable ticket, expected to result in an unusual "shared presidency...

Beyond Abu Ghraib

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. "You cannot rebuild a society with people that are in pain," says Dr. Lynn Amowitz, a senior medical researcher with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an international human rights organization that is based in Boston,...

Pages