As a resident of Alabama, I long have been appalled by the prosecution of Don Siegelman, our former Democratic governor. I've been disgusted that the Obama administration has pretty much refused to root out federal lawlessness in Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and other states where Democrats were targeted for political reasons during the Bush years. I've been dismayed that the Siegelman case largely has faded from the public's consciousness over the past several months.
That changed the other day, however, and insight came from an unexpected source--the nation's foremost conservative columnist. Yep, it took George Will to bring matters of profound constitutional importance back to public awareness.
Who could have imagined that George Will would prove to be more progressive than Barack Obama on fundamental matters of justice?The Will piece is titled "Is It Bribery Of Just Politics?" If you care about matters of fundamental justice, it's must reading.
Will, probably the nation's foremost conservative columnist, writes in his most recent piece that the U.S. Supreme Court should review the convictions of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy to ensure that overzealous prosecutors are not criminalizing standard political behavior.
The Obama Justice Department, meanwhile, has stated that the Siegelman case was correctly decided and should not be reviewed by the nation's highest court. That presents a disturbing scenario for Democrats as they think about heading to the polls in November: George Will actually is more enlightened than Barack Obama on constitutional issues of profound importance to many progressives.
Could Will have gone even further in his piece? Probably so, writes Legal Schnauzer:
The real issue in the Siegelman case is not the law but judicial buffoonery (or corruption, take your pick). U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, a Bush appointee who oversaw the Siegelman trial in the Middle District of Alabama, got it wrong by giving jury instructions that were contrary to established law. The Eleventh Circuit got it wrong by stating, more or less, that Fuller's instructions were "in the ballpark," and that's good enough for a criminal conviction.I admire George Will's intellect, even if I don't agree with him on much. This is a time when I definitely appreciate Will's efforts to educate the public:
That notion should send a shiver down the spine of every sentient being in America. After all, as Don Siegelman has said many times, "if they can do this to me, they can do it to anyone."
George Will does not go far enough in his column. He correctly addresses the issue of lawless prosecutors while ignoring the fact that our federal courts also are filled with lawless judges. They are the real danger to our democracy. Prosecutors can do only so much harm, without the aid of corrupt judges. The Siegelman/Scrushy case, sadly, has featured rogue judges from the outset.
Still, George Will makes a valuable contribution to our nation's understanding of issues raised in the Siegelman case. This thought probably would turn Will's stomach, but progressives who care about justice should be singing his praises today.
As for the Obama administration . . . the president and Attorney General Eric Holder should be ashamed of themselves.