When the Bush administration decided to wiretap some suspects without a warrant, it was acting contrary to the procedures that had been established by Congress Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Unfortunately, Congress reacted to this lawlessness by passing the Protect America Act, making warrantless wiretaps of communications involving at least one party not in the United States easier while providing immunity for past instances of illegal wiretapping. However, the new statute does not settle all of the legal questions.
Greg Miller has an essential report in TheWashington Post about the institutionalization of the "war on terror," revealing that the Obama administration is institutionalizing many of the worst aspects of the arbitrary death apparatus established by the Bush administration.
Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a major part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Since DOMA had already been held unconstitutional by the First Circuit, on one level this doesn't change anything, since the case was almost certainly headed to the Supreme Court anyway. But today's opinion is important because the theory underlying the court's holding goes much further than the First Circuit did.
Although Martha Raddatz's moderation of the vice-presidential debate went leaps and bounds above that of Jim Lehrer's, the questions haven't veered far from the insider baseball that leaves pundits cheering.
Coverage of the presidential and vice-presidential debates has generally focused on the horse race issues—the damage done by Obama's somnolent performance, how much the damage has been contained by Biden's substantive destruction of the overrated Paul Ryan. But its also important to consider what has been excluded from the discussions so far. To a remarkable extent, questions and subsequent discussion have focused on a (very narrow) discussion of economic issues. And while nobody can doubt the importance of economic issues in an era of ongoing mass unemployment, crucial issues of individual rights and equality over which presidents have major influence were left unmentioned.
The Supreme Court’s 2011 term, which concluded with a narrow escape for the Obama administration’s defining policy achievement, the Affordable Care Act, was a compelling reminder of the importance of the highest Court in the land to our country’s politics. The 2012 term, which started this week, may have an even further-reaching impact. Here’s a roundup of the cases and issues that could be considerably helped or hindered by the Court’s deliberation.