Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Buttar on the Politicization of the Court

New post from Shahid Buttar over on Huffingtonpost.  

It is the second of a four part series, and critiques what he sees as a politicization of the court, and the court's political use of its power, especially in re-writing constitutional doctrines in pursuit of recognized right-wing policies.

Part I addressed the politicization of voting rights.

Part III will explore the failure of traditional checks on the court, and Part IV will present his proposal for Congressional and Executive strategies for limiting the Court.

Check his post for case analysis and support.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monica Goodling Investigation

A quick read of the Monica Goodling report shows some interesting information.

For example, Secretary of State Rice is too liberal for the DoJ:

Several candidates interviewed by Goodling told us they believed that her question about identifying their favorite Supreme Court Justice, President, or legislator was an attempt to determine the candidates’ political beliefs. For example, one candidate reported that after he stated he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Goodling “frowned” and commented, “but she’s pro-choice.”

Also, the Lexis query used to run background checks:

[First name of a candidate]! and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired
or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!

Now I know what words to label my posts with....

Union Membership as a Civil Right

A friend referred me to this recent (but not burning hot) post by David Sirota at

The idea: Add Union Membership into the Civil Rights Act.

The goal: Change corporate behavior. Sirota writes:

For example, because the Civil Rights Act bars racial discrimination, businesses
are motivated to try to prevent bigotry: They want to avoid being sued. This is
why no company brags about being racist.

But when it comes to unions, there is no such deterrent. The lack of civil rights protection effectively encourages businesses to punish pro-union employees — and publicize the abuse to intimidate their workforce. By making the six words law, the dynamic would shift. Companies would have a reason — fear of litigation — to respect workers’ rights.

The man behind the idea: Tom Geoghegan (who is also my employer)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Africa and the ICC

From the Council on Foreign Relations via the Washington Post, Stephanie Hanson writing on the ICC and Africa:

The prosecutor of the ICC has encouraged self-referrals, and the only such
referrals have been from African countries. While the ICC has received some
1,700 communications to investigate alleged crimes in 139 countries, 80 percent
of these communications have been found outside the jurisdiction of the court.
This is "not a question of picking on Africa," says John Washburn (PDF) of the American NGO Coalition for the ICC. "The UN Security Council referred [Darfur], and the other countries came forward voluntarily." Some international law experts say the weakness of Africa's national legal systems has led individual countries to refer situations to the ICC. Most African states have yet to implement the Rome Statutes in their domestic legislation, write Olympia Bekou and Sangeeta Shah in
Human Rights Law Revie
w, which is the first step toward retaining domestic
jurisdiction. "Strengthening domestic prosecutions so that the ICC does not have
to intervene should be the ultimate goal of every state," they write.

Hamdan Evidentiary Rulings

Check out CAAFlog's analysis on the evidentiary ruling in Hamdan. I'll post the ruling when I find it.

UPDATE: Here is the ruling, other available on the DoD website.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

War Powers

As widely noted, former Secretaries of State James Baker and Warren Christopher are pushing for a redraft of the War Powers Act.

As reported in the LA Times:

The proposed law would require the president to notify Congress of any plans for
combat lasting, or expected to last, longer than one week and require Congress
to vote on a resolution of approval within 30 days of being notified. Military
actions shorter than one week and covert operations would be exempt.

I will post a draft when I find one.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rachman on the ICC

Gideon Rachman has a nice piece on the International Criminal Court in today's FT. It largely relates a lot of the "peace vs. justice" concerns which have been debated for awhile, notably by Doug Cassel.

The debate essentially says that ICC prosecutions, which demand justice and accountability, are a roadblock to peace because they eliminate the incentives of parties to a conflict to end it if they think they will be prosecuted, e.g. Joseph Kony in Uganda.

Rachman also notes a well-founded fear:

Some Africans complain that the ICC is using their continent as a laboratory.
For although justice is meant to be blind, it is clear that there are certain
countries and political leaders that are just too powerful to bring before the
court. There will be no prosecutions of Russian leaders over crimes in Chechnya.
And – despite the fears of American conservatives, which have led the US to
reject the court – the ICC is also highly unlikely to prosecute Americans.

While it has flaws, let's hope the ICC stays around as a valuable institution--if only as an expression of our collective values.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Retrospection on Terrorism

While there are definitions of "terrorism" in international law, a potent reminder of the subjective nature of that classification was pointed out by CNN.

This story relates how Nelson Mandela, of all people, was just removed from the United States' terrorism watch list, and can now get a visa without special permission.

Without resorting to an argument of terrorist/freedom fighter, the fact that a person of Mandela's reputation and renown is only now removed from what is effectively a list of terrorists presents an opportunity to reflect on how the concept of a terrorist group, like the African National Congress in Mandela's case, fits in with different legal frameworks and issues, e.g. on ending colonialism (Palestine, Puerto Rico), fighting illegitimate government (portions of Bolivia, Zimbabwe), the growing indigenous rights framework (Latin America), or self-determination (Taiwan, Kurdistan, Western Sahara).