THOSE WHO CARE about the Constitution and the fate of American democracy should go easy on the champagne.
Yes, it was immensely reassuring that the Supreme Court, voting 5 to 3, held that President Bush lacked the authority to create military trial commissions by executive fiat, bypassing both Congress and international law. By extension, the court challenged Bush's entire theory of extra-constitutional wartime powers as commander-in-chief.
...But this slender victory for constitutional democracy is nothing like the high court's 1974 ruling, 9 to 0, compelling Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes. It is crystal clear from the dissent that a hard-core bloc of four justices will defer to Bush, whatever the cost to the Constitution.
...The rule of law now hangs by a thread. It depends on the health of an increasingly frail 86-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens, and the willingness of the Court's inconstant swing vote, Anthony Kennedy, to side with the Constitution.
...With increasingly partisan courts, there is no one to complain to.
...If American democracy is to survive, Congress, as well as the courts, needs to rein in this president. But Congress has typically put partisanship ahead of constitutional democracy. This week, Republicans were far more eager to defend the flag than the Constitution.
...The Bush era has been a slow-rolling coup d'etat. People are afraid to say so, lest they look like extremists. But the real extremists are in the White House. If our democracy slips away, it will be because its defenders were irresolute and in denial of what is plainly occurring. And if our democracy ultimately survives, it will have been a very close call.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
The Thin Line
Robert Kuttner in the Boston Globe: "The Bush era has been a slow-rolling coup d'etat":
Posted by David Appell at 7/01/2006 09:54:00 AM