Friday, July 12, 2013

Recent NYT Comments

The Republican case against immigration reform rests, I think, on an unstated but very tenable premise: that as in the days of Jim Crow, voter suppression works, and will keep whites a majority of the voting population indefinitely. Voter ID laws are just the start of it. The nullification of rights is an old right wing game, as the abortion battles show they are terrific at it, and it works.
--7/11 2:39 pm in response to op ed by Ross Douthat, "Rubio-Schumer and the Republican Future"

In describing Justice Ginsberg as clear-eyed and realistic, Greenhouse puts her finger on the Court majority's current modus operandi: to elevate form over reality. The very clever Chief Justice (no relation) has neatly turned our Constitutional rights to equal protection and due process into safe harbors for the nullification of those rights in actual practice. The practice of Republican-controlled states is to demolish minority voting rights with laws framed as equal, but aimed at particular targets, like Anatole France's observation that a law equally prohibited both rich and poor from sleeping under the bridges of Paris. Roberts has ratified those practices. The law once prohibited corporate campaign contributions. But Roberts found this an unjustifiable impingement on the "equal" free speech rights of corporations and other organizations. Now we have corrupted elections at every turn. And so forth. Never in human history has a court wreaked so much damage on a successful political system as has the Supreme Court left to us by the Bush family.
--7/11 4:29 pm in response to op ed by Linda Greenhouse, "The Cost of Compromise"

Egypt, like Pakistan, most of Africa, and many Middle Eastern and Asian countries is mired in an eternal succession of thieving elites. As long as the elites see less to gain from creating an economically and socially viable state than from using power to line their family pockets and destroy opponents, the turnover will continue. Moreover, they have perfected the art of fleecing the Americans, who now provide most of the assets that they steal. The only thing we can do to end this misery is to support those who are actually honest, have some concept of the public good, and seem competent. Absent such people, we should do as little as possible. 
--7/8 4:36 pm in response to op ed by Ed Husain, "How Not to Become the Next Pakistan."

As a lawyer I am less interested in who wins or loses a Supreme Court case than in the reasoning and law that leads to the decision. People commonly ascribe results to the personal views of the justices, but the results should be the outcome of an honest process of legal reasoning, not preordained by judges' personal preferences. When the latter happens, lawyers regard the process as intellectually corrupt.
    In the decisions of the last two days, we have seen examples of both genuine legal reasoning, and intellectual corruption. A pattern has now become clear. Normally, the court's decisions are based on legal reasoning, but when it comes to cases that involve the fundamental structure of our democracy the conservative majority seems to privilege personal preference. We have seen that in Bush v. Gore, in Citizens United, and now in the Voting Rights case. In all these cases, the court has departed from usual practice and precedent in pursuit of decisions pleasing to the conservative majority. In doing so, it has sanctioned the free use of chicanery and money to restructure the Constitution's representative democracy into something that may soon approach an oligarchy. It is that corrupt process, and those devastating results that we must mourn.

--6/26 12:46 pm in response to "Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage with Two Major Rulings"

The collection of big data by the NSA is not yet a Star Chamber. We need this information for security in the modern world, and until it leads to the punishment of people without according them the full range of constitutional protections, I cannot see the actual harm of it. I think that both Snowden and the security apparatus have behaved reprehensibly. Snowden broke the law, violated his promises, and cozied up to our fiercest rivals, but at least he has launched a valuable debate and exposed the overly compliant FISA court, which has apparently never turning down a security request. The security people, on the other hand, have gone over the top in claiming that the disclosures injure US safety (not clear how), and their fear of daylight reminds one of George Orwell.
--6/28 2:46 pm in response to Roger Cohen, "The Service of Snowden"

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