Carol Platt Liebau: The "Gift" of Oligarchy

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The "Gift" of Oligarchy

A columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that the Hamdan decision was a perfect Independence Day "gift" to America. As she notes happily, "the court ruled that [military commissions established by the executive branch] were not authorized by federal law and violated our signature on the Geneva Conventions."

Contrary to the columnist's vaporings, though, the fact is that Hamden is a "gift" to America only to the extent that its people want to live under an oligarchy. Last year in the Kelo case, the Supreme Court redefined the takings clause of the Constitution. Where that document says, "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation" (emphasis added), the liberal bloc of the court ignored the plain meaning of the word "use." As Justice Thomas pointed out in dissent, the Kelo majority authorized all government takings that merely serve a public "purpose" -- extending far beyond those specifically for a public "use." In other words, the majority ignored the plain words of the Constitution.

In Hamden, the Court's liberal bloc did it again, this time with the words of the Geneva Conventions -- finding that, somehow, the US conflict with al Qaeda isn't "international" in character, as I pointed out here.

The fact that 5 justices last year and 4 this year are willing simply to decree what the law is, unsupported by the common-sense meaning of the documents they're purporting to interpret, isn't a gift or a victory, even for those who may happen to like the results in both Kelo and Hamden.

It's an oligarchy -- and no American should celebrate it, especially on Independence Day.


Blogger Poison Pero said...

"It is a very dangerous doctrine to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions. It is one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy." - Thomas Jefferson

It was as true 200 years ago as it is today.

8:12 PM  
Blogger LQ said...

The liberals on the court are doing what they usually do: reading into the Constitution (and law) what they want it to be, not what it is.

Oligarchy is a good description.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Bush simply is not a king or dictator and over-reached his authority.

Justice department officials argued the court had pointed the way out of the legal morass by noting that Congress could pass laws specifically authorising military tribunals. "Nothing prevents the president from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his opinion.

But the decision does drastically curtail the powers claimed by this White House to override international human rights treaties as well as US military law.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

dittohead, I have been reading this blog for a few months now, just to get a feel for the tone and
interplay between the bloggers and how they exchange ideas and learn from each others remarks, that is what a blog is supposed to do. I have not blogged before, and I wanted to see how the dialogue flowed before I jumped in. Now I am ready.

Are you just a,"One trick pony" or what? Most of the bloggers on this site are very intelligent people who, although they might disagree at times, carry on a very thoughtful and interesting debate of the issues, and I appreciate that very much. However you don't bring to the discussion very much of your own individual thought. Do you just read and then mimmic the liberal Democrat talking points or what? I mean many of those with your point of view seem to, walk the same, talk the same, and parrot each others talking points, Haleburton(sp)is evil, Bush lied and people died,
evil oil, Rove leaked,etc.

Question: Do you think for yourself, or do you just wait for the next Democrat,"Talking point" and then throw mud like a child?

10:39 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...


You sound like a real loser, as it took you several months to study this site.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Dittohead, yea it took me a while, but I had to wait for you give me an overwhelming abundance of evidence before commenting.
I believe in giving people plenty chance to make their
point before I respond, and I'm glad I waited. You didn't want me to judge you too quickly, did you?

11:58 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...


You wasted your time. I don't give a hoot what you think.

Your studies didn't go well. Carol requires comments be on topic.

You have not written one word about the Hamdam V. Rumsfeld decision rather belittled and denigrated yourself with mindless ranting.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Poison Pero said...

Chils, as a new blogger you need to get something straight.....The letters on usernames aren't always what they seem.

"t" = "c"
"o" = "k"

Plot those into Dittohead's name, and........You get the idea.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

All right, here' goes. I GUARANTEE you that about a week to ten days from now, Congress will give the President just about everything that he wanted in the first place (with bi-partisan support, I might add) to properly deal with the detainees as he saw fit, and the situation will be right back where it started, before the Surpreme Court had the case. One major difference will be that those who are laughing now, will be pulling their hair out, and the best part is that this time they will not be able to bring the case back to court!
You can count on it!

12:54 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

poison pero, thanks, this is fun!

12:58 AM  
Blogger Greg said...



You've made two VERY excellent points in this thread.

1. Ditto ALWAYS uses EVERY thread to spew Bush hatred.

2. This SCOTUS decision will in no way hinder the current Administration. It will, in the end, be allowed - by legislation - to do exactly what they have wanted to do all along.

I will add this as well:

This decision will be yet another issue in the upcoming elections that will help those who are serious about winning this war. Putting the following questions to the American public will NOT help the Democrats:

Do you want to claim defeat, cut and run? Or, do you want to win this war?

Do you want the U.S. military to be able to follow centuries of tradition and prosecute illegal combatants in a military court? Or, do you want to afford enemy combatants - ILLEGAL combatants and terrorists - the luxury of American civilian courts along with all the rights and priveleges that goes with it?

I can't wait for those questions to be debated in the coming elections!

The Democrats will no doubt backtrack from their current positions on both of these issues. And that is another issue that hurts them. The American public will see once again that the Democrats are not at all serious and cannot be trusted with anything as important as national security.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Dittohead,I have a brain teaser for you. President Bush HAD the authority from the FIRST day of his presidency in 2001 to take out Saddam in Iraq. Do you know why? Toss that around in your brain a bit and later I'll tell you.

9:12 AM  
Blogger suek said...

>> President Bush HAD the authority from the FIRST day of his presidency in 2001 to take out Saddam in Iraq. Do you know why? >>

Doesn't really matter why...
1) DH is still stuck on "Bush lied, people died" - no amount of evidence is going to change his mind.
2) If members of the SC continue as activist judges - that is, reinterpreting the law as they'd _like _ it to be instead of just reading the words and declaring what they were intended to mean - they could decide any day that Bush _doesn't_ have the authority. Don't ask how - they'll find a way! and it seems as if Congress doesn't have the guts to take a definitive position on _anything_.
I'd like to be wrong here, but I don't think I am. They can't even make a decision on securing the border for crumb's sake.

Also - debating with DH is a waste of effort. He's a hit and runner. Just ignore him - and the other one who parrots him. Wish there were some way to killfile on a blog!

9:23 AM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

When the Supreme Court decided Kelo, Congress and state legislatures passed bills changing the laws that led to the Kelo decision. That is they way our government is supposed to work. Somehow, you have decided, Carol, despite years spent studying the law, that this is somehow an aberration, and that the country would work much better if the president just made anything law that he felt like.

This is called tyranny. Maybe you're in favor of it now because there's a Republican in power. I hope you save all these posts and reprint them when the Dems are back in power. I'm sure you won't change your fundamental beliefs then.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...


If you want to address Reagan's executive order 12333, go right ahead.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Ditto, Actually it is the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Passed overwhelmingly with strong by-partisan support, and signed into law by Clinton.
I don't have time to link to it here, but you can find it easily enough by typing, "Iraq liberation Act of 1998" into your address bar. The first paragraph says, "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government." It also says, "Urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law."

"Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime."

12:14 PM  
Blogger Pete said...

Wah, Wah, Wah, cries the left. Bush lied, and the earth self destructed! What hoooey! Here's an amusing take on it if you missed it at The New Media Journal.

Lincoln Lied and Thousands Died
USA -- By Seth Swirsky
July 1, 2006
Northern Democrat 1: Can you believe that liar Lincoln? First, he said that we were fighting to preserve the Union. Then he tells us, with that Emancipation Proclamation, that the war is about eliminating slavery for good.

Northern Democrat 2: All these soldiers that died for a lie…

ND 1: And tell me this hasn’t been the most mismanaged war in history! We had way too few troops at Bull Run.

ND 2: Yeah, Lincoln’s Secretary of State Seward said the war would be over in two months. Jeez. Now, more than three years later we’re in this unwinnable quagmire. Lincoln has no plan!

ND 1: And the Europeans hate us because they can’t get their cotton!

ND 2: So much for our constitutional freedoms with that unlawful Writ of Habeas Corpus. I’m sure the government is reading my mail to my cousin in Virginia.

ND 1: Wasn’t he the guy that went to Washington, D.C. to spy for the South?

ND 2: Yes, but he was just fighting for his cause just like we’re fighting for ours. You know, we’re all the same in the end.

ND 1: Lincoln didn’t even get Congress to approve the Writ – he just did it. Lincoln is Ghengis Khan!

ND 2: Yeah, even former Democratic President Franklin Pierce said Lincoln is responsible for, “all the woe…all the degradation, all the atrocity, all the desolation and ruin” in our country.

ND 1: I’m voting for the “Peace” Democrat, General McClellan in November. He supports an immediate end to the war…a timetable to pull out of the South.

ND 2: Yeah, war is not the answer. Plus, let the negroes fight for their own freedom!

ND 1: Fool, Lincoln. I know the Republicans think that Sherman’s capturing of Atlanta is a big deal – but did they get the South’s Capitol, Richmond? No!

ND 2: He should be impeached the moment we win in November!

ND 1: For sure. Lincoln will definitely go down as the worst President in American history!

12:18 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...


I'm familiar with that. It doesn't give Bush authority to target and muder Hussein.

Perhaps, I can save you some time. I doubt anyone cared if Hussein was killed (anyone could argue that might prevented alot of probelms). Similar to Clinton trying take bin Laden out with a covert missle attack.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Ditto, Is Hussein(sp) dead? That's news to me!

12:38 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...


Try to remember your own words, moron!

"I have a brain teaser for you. President Bush HAD the authority from the FIRST day of his presidency in 2001 to take out Saddam in Iraq."

12:42 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Ditto, This will be my last post on this thread, but "Take out" dosen't have to mean death. As long as he never gets back in power, that will be good enough. What the Iraqi's do with him after his trial, will be their concern, not mine.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I partly agree with Wrabkin that this SCOTUS decision is part of the normal working of our system of government. It just so happens that this decision gives conservatives yet another great issue with which to portray liberals in a poor light.

But concerning this:

"...Somehow, you have decided, Carol, despite years spent studying the law, that this is somehow an aberration, and that the country would work much better if the president just made anything law that he felt like.

This is called tyranny. Maybe you're in favor of it now because there's a Republican in power. ..."

I would respond that expressing alarm at a SCOTUS decision (or a new law, for that matter) is also a part of how our system of government "normally" works. It's the passionate expression of the views of the people that provide direction for the Legislative and Executive branches.

Then there's this:

"...I hope you save all these posts and reprint them when the Dems are back in power. ..."

I'm not sure that even with all of today's modern technology there is a medium capable of storing these posts for that long!


1:39 PM  
Blogger Pete said...

Hope you're right, Greg.

5:10 AM  

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