With the nomination of Michael Mukasey for attorney general, to replace the Alberto Gonzales, being in the News lately, the issue of Constitutional Rights has once again moved to the front burner of American Politics. Senator Christopher Dodd, much to his credit has been an out-spoken defender of Constitutional Rights:
much of the focus has been on Mukasey's non-answer to if he considers waterboarding torture and thus unconstitutional
"No, I was the first senator among the presidential candidates to say no," said Dodd in response to a question if he would support Mukasey's nomination.
Way to go Senator Dodd! We need more Senators fighting to protect the Constitution, like you have! You have my respect Sir.
Since my Candidate of choice is John Edwards however, this made me wonder, "What does Edwards think about Protecting the Constitution?"
To see what I found out, read on please ...
(BTW, I think an Edwards/Dodd Ticket would be an excellent combination to restore a broken America, too)
Here's the 10,000-foot "Executive Summary" of "What John Edwards thinks about the Constitution", and its important role in our American Heritage:
Protecting The Constitution And Respecting Our Freedoms
America must do whatever it takes to defeat terrorism, but securing a lasting victory will take moral as well as military strength.
President Bush's failure to respect the Constitution and our commitment to the fundamental rule of law has badly damaged our security and our standing in the world.
We must restore our moral leadership in the world, and we should begin here at home.
If we want to spread democracy abroad, we must strengthen democracy in America, including our constitutional freedoms and the rule of law.
(1) Say No to Torture- Edwards will protect our troops and our values by upholding the Geneva Conventions
- He will issue an executive order setting clear guidelines for interrogations and prohibiting torture.
- He will also ban the shameful practice of outsourcing torture to other countries through "extraordinary rendition."
(2) Restore Habeas Corpus and Shut Down Guantanamo- Edwards will shut down Guantanamo and
- work to resolve the status of the detainees, hundreds of whom have been held for years without being charged.
- He will also restore the writ of habeas corpus to reinstate judicial review of detention, rather than allow unchecked executive power.
(3) Protect Americans' Privacy and Freedom- Our government should protect the privacy, communications, and personal records of Americans—not spy on them without court supervision as the Bush Administration has done.
- Edwards will end the warrantless wiretapping of Americans' phone calls and e-mails and the data-mining of Americans' communications and personal records,
- restoring judicial review to surveillance of American citizens.
- He will fix the Patriot Act by restoring important safeguards to the provisions most susceptible to abuse:
the "sneak-and-peek" delayed-notice searches,- He will also end racial profiling by law enforcement.
National Security Letters, and
the business and library records provisions.
(4) Defend the Constitution- Edwards will end the practice of issuing presidential "signing statements" that claim the administration can ignore the law.
- He will respect the proper roles of the Congress and the courts.
- He will not shroud the actions of the White House in secrecy.
- He will not abuse the executive privilege to hide information from Congress and the courts.
- And he will not interfere with the professional judgment of attorneys at the Justice Department
- or impose a partisan agenda on their interpretation of the nation's laws and Constitution.
OK that's all well, and good, important points, all. BUT I was expecting something a little more substantial. Afterall Edwards IS an accomplished Lawyer!
So I dug deeper. And indeed, it turns out John Edwards, the Lawyer, DOES indeed have a keen understanding of the hidden undercurrents at work in Judicial system. Edwards is well aware of something called the "Constitution in Exile" movement, has been at work since 1995. At its core, it is a Conservative agenda to roll back the New Deal, ushered in by FDR, and return America back to the good ole days of Gilded Age.
This was news to me! So hold on for a short exploration what this "Constitution in Exile" Movement might mean to our American way of life:
First, the NSCLC: National Senior Citizens Law Center asks the rather pointed Question:
[regarding] conservative attempts to restore a "Constitution-in-Exile"
The term was first coined in 1995 by Federal Appeals Court Judge, Douglas Ginsburg to describe a conservative reading of the Constitution banished in the years after the Court reversed course in the 1930s and began upholding New Deal legislation.
The ACS blog discusses ... Jeffrey Rosen’s pre-election warning that, instead of revisiting Roe v. Wade, a second Bush administration is more likely to focus on judges who will reinvigorate doctrines that "were largely abandoned in the 1930s to allow the federal government broad discretion to regulate health, safety, the environment, and the workplace."
Next, for some more background on "Constitution in Exile" movement, here is the in-depth investigation conducted by a New York Times, which raises some very disturbing prospects:
New York Times
By JEFFREY ROSEN -- April 17, 2005
But as Thomas's presence on the court suggests, it is perhaps just as likely that the next justice -- or chief justice -- will be sympathetic to the less well-known but increasingly active conservative judicial movement that Epstein represents. It is sometimes known as the Constitution in Exile movement, after a phrase introduced in 1995 by Douglas Ginsburg, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
By "Constitution in Exile," Ginsburg meant to identify legal doctrines that established firm limitations on state and federal power before the New Deal. Unlike many originalists, most adherents of the Constitution in Exile movement are not especially concerned about states' rights or judicial deference to legislatures; instead, they encourage judges to strike down laws on behalf of rights that don't appear explicitly in the Constitution.
Critics of the movement note, with some anxiety, that it has no shortage of targets. Cass Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago ... who describes himself as a moderate, recently explained to me, success, as the movement defines it, would mean that "many decisions of the Federal Communications Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and possibly the National Labor Relations Board would be unconstitutional. It would mean that the Social Security Act would not only be under political but also constitutional stress.
Some applications of the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act would be struck down as beyond Congress's commerce power." In what Sunstein described as the "extreme nightmare scenario," the right of individuals to freedom of contract would be so vigorously interpreted that minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws would also be jeopardized.
... to achieve its goals, the movement ultimately needs not just one or two but four more Supreme Court justices sympathetic to its cause, as well as a larger transformation in the overall political and legal culture. "I think what is really needed here is a fundamental intellectual assault on the entire New Deal edifice," he says. "We want to withdraw judicial support for the entire modern welfare state. I'd retire and play golf if I could get there."
Incredible! If the GOP Doesn't like the Laws -- they just find (or appoint) Judges to strike them down, with the goal to ultimately return us back to the Economic Dark Ages! Talk about Obstructionists! Talk about agendas of Activist Judges!
If America allows our current Right-leaning Pro-Corporate Supreme Court to continue to "tilt right", with "Business as Usual" Leaders, we may just find out the hard way, that our 2-tiered Economic Society is much more dangerous than most people realize! (The 2-tiers: "The super-rich and everybody else!" as Edwards often says)
During this research, I was very encouraged however, to find out John Edwards is quite concerned about this "Constitution in Exile" movement too, as it was the dominant theme of his address to the American Constitution Society (ACS):
How do those who demand judicial restraint celebrate the Rehnquist Court, which has struck down Acts of Congress at an unprecedented rate; nearly three dozen since 1995? The lesson is clear: judicial restraint is nice, but it shouldn't get in the way of policy results you want.
None of this should be a surprise.
Much of it was planned out by the Meese Justice Department — the memos are available on the Internet for everyone to see. Their blueprint for transforming judicial decision-making written twenty years ago has been incredibly successful.
Look at what's happening to the First Amendment.
In case after case, conservatives invoke the First Amendment to protect powerful economic interests. They seek to invalidate laws that would lessen the influence of money in politics or expand the diversity of voices heard on media.
In so-called commercial speech cases, they have suggested that the government's power to protect consumers is strictly limited.
Time and time again, they have opposed judicial and legislative attempts to facilitate access to justice of poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised individuals.
Standing doctrine is a shadow of what it once was — ordinary people have a much more difficult time getting into court to challenge government action.
Finally, there is the so-called "Constitution in Exile" movement, recently chronicled in the New York Times.
As you know, it argues that the Court took a wrong turn seventy years ago when it recognized broad congressional power to address our country's economic challenges.
This movement seeks to return to an era in which the federal government has only limited power to address issues such as workers rights, discrimination, and pollution.
It would be nice if we could think of this movement as an intellectual exercise divorced from the real world — sort of like the flat earth society.
But, the current Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Violence Against Women Act on one version of this theory.
And conservative activists are promoting more challenges to federal statutes on this basis.
Of course, attempts to use the Constitution to prevent the federal government from helping ordinary people are not new.
During the Lochner era, conservative courts routinely struck down progressive legislation in the name of constitutional law.
Then as now, many conservatives claimed that striking down such laws was dictated by the law, not their own political preferences.
Then as now we were told that even if the beneficiaries of the Court's actions were inevitably the entrenched and the powerful, this was simply a coincidence.
Here, history is very much on our side. Lochner could not withstand the pressure of the New Deal and industrialization. The Constitution in Exile is just as badly suited to the demands of the new global economy. Neither vision is true to a Constitution built for generations.
You and ACS have an important role to play in the fight to prevent the courts from turning back to the Lochner era.
ACS' Constitution in the 21st Century project can supply the intellectual firepower that we need to win this battle.
It just might take a skilled Lawyer to beat this regressive right-wing judicial agenda, at their own game?
How's that old saying go -- "you got to fight Fire with Fire!"
John Edwards seems to have the "fiery insights" that it will take to STAND UP TO this "right-wing judicial movement", steadily at work for over a decade now, who's intent is none other than "to roll back all of the progressive gains" that have happened this last century!
Last time I checked, the Constitution protected three co-equal Branches of Government, NOT just one (or two) that just "steam roll" that other Legislative Branch. With Edwards at the helm, given his strong statements against "Executive Signing Statements", I feel confident he will respect and restore these 3 Branches back to their co-equal roles, and our system of "Checks and Balances" will finally be restored too.
In closing, here are a few spirited clips of John Edwards arguing that
"the Bill of Rights and the Constitution are heart and soul of our Government."
John Edwards on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution
AND John Edwards goes on to argue that
"we need a 'Transparent Government'. Because this Government DOESN'T BELONG to the President of the United States -- It BELONGS TO YOU! And you should KNOW what's happening in YOUR Government!"
John Edwards: On Transparency in Government
In my opinion John Edwards will treat the Constitution with the Respect it deserves! I would hope you would consider him as a serious choice in the upcoming Elections.
Edwards is fighting to Take our Country Back, and to return it, finally, to WE the People!
We The People
In America, WE the People, STILL DO have a Choice!
Learn more about John Edwards:
Thank you for your time.