A Black Day For The Rule of Law

The Senate has voted to give retroactive immunity to the phone companies for spying on Americans without a warrant.

As I have written elsewhere, this does violence to the Rule of Law. As usual, the defendants of this measure make the best case against it. As Senator Orin Hatch explained:

“And frankly, if we do not give retroactive immunity, there is not a general counsel of any of these companies that would [again] expose their company to the … litigation that has come since.”

Which is precisely the point. It should not be possible, let alone easy, for the Executive Branch to provide an end run to the Constitution and the law. That a majority of the Senate will retroactively concur in this law breaking — even applaud it and encourage it! — makes mock of the very notion that we are a free people in the land of the free governed by laws, not men, safe from the tyranny of Kings because their power is restrained.

As a Republic, we will recover. We have suffered such stains and indignities on the law in the past. Korematsu and the internment of Japanese Americans, the warrantless surveillance of civil rights leaders, The Espionage Act in World War I, which made it illegal to criticize the government’s military recruitment efforts. The list goes on. Then the pendulum swings back. We stand ashamed, offering compensation and apologies, shaking our heads at what people do and wondering how a previous generation could have erred so dramatically.

What is appalling here is that this is not done in the first rush of panic, pain and fear following the attacks. It is not prompted by “false intelligence.” There are no excuses for those Democrats who have ONCE AGAIN given President Bush everything he asks for, after promising us in 2006 that “the blank check is over” and that the Democratic landslide signaled a return to a government of checks and balances, accountability and oversight? And these Democratic Senators will come to us again in 2008, and expect the party faithful to once again fall in line?

I still have hopes for the House Democrats. Recently, Representatives Dingell, Markey and Stupak reminded their Senate colleagues of their duty to exercise oversight of the Executive to protect the rights of all Americans. Perhaps these champions of freedom will convince their House colleagues to stand firm in the face of White House pressure, telco PAC contributions, and the craven example of their colleagues in the Senate.

But it is a black day for the Rule of Law, and a black day for the Democratic party. Let every Democrat that has dared adopt a haughty attitude to Republicans for supporting domestic spying, torture, and the assault on our consititution hang his head in shame. Let our tongues be stilled. For our leaders have proven no better than theirs. And will not we, like the sheep we have accused them of being, quietly return them again to office?

Stay tuned . . . .

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5 Comments

  1. John says:

    Harold,

    You say, “As a republic, we will recover.”

    Alas, that remains to be seen. I hope you’re right.

  2. bj says:

    I had one senator vote for the Constitution and the Rule of Law, and one Against. I wrote Senator Casey to sincerely thank him for his vote to uphold the Constitution. We all need to do that, so the ones fighting the good fight know that we see who is standing up for what is right.

    I also let that snake Specter know that the end of his tenure in the Senate will come sooner rather than later if I have anything to do with it.

    Now let’s work on the House. Charlie Dent . . . *sigh* He’s been in lockstep with Bush on EVERYTHING, it seems.

  3. Harold says:

    You are right, I owe Senator Cardin a thank you.

  4. Jon Baker says:

    Can you let us know which senators’ terms are coming up this year, who have voted with the Administration on these issues? Particularly Democrats, so that if there is a primary (unlikely at best) we can vote against them?

  5. Roberto says:

    The Senate cannot negate State Laws on privacy.

    You still have recourse in State courts no matter what the politicians say.

    The trick will be going after a company that has injured a party in a particular State and convincing a District Atty. to file charges, or You will have to bring Criminal Charges Yourself. It can be done. Google “The Rule of Law” with Randy Kelton

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