Thursday, January 26, 2006

just say no. . . by saying yes

Edward Kennedy, on the floor of the Senate Wednesday, delivered a lengthy indictment of Squirrelly Sam Alito, and a strong case for defeating his nomination. But, right at the beginning of his speech, Senator Kennedy said all we need to know:

For the Senate to become a "rubber stamp" for the judicial nominees of any President would be a betrayal of our sworn duty to the American people. Taking our responsibility seriously -- and doing the job we were sent here to do -- is not being "partisan," as some Republicans have charged. In fact, it is those Republicans who are being partisan by defending a nominee's right to remain silent when Senators ask him highly relevant questions about his constitutional values. To ask a nominee for a candid statement of his current belief about what a provision of the Constitution means is not asking for a guarantee of how he will rule in the future.

It is every bit as appropriate as reading a law review article or a case he wrote last year or a speech he gave as a judge. Unfortunately, on issue after issue, instead of answering candidly, Judge Alito merely recited the existing case law but never disclosed his view of major constitutional issues. That is a disservice to the American people, and Senators on both sides of the aisle should find his evasiveness unacceptable. The confirmation process should not be reduced to a game of hide the ball. The stakes for our country are too high.

One of the most important of all the responsibilities of the Supreme Court is to enforce the constitutional limitations on Presidential power. A Justice must have the courage and the wisdom to speak truth to power -- to tell even the President that he has gone too far.

Chief Justice John Marshall was that kind of Justice when he told President Jefferson that he had exceeded his war-making powers under the Constitution.

Justice Robert Jackson was that kind of Justice when he told President Truman that he could not misuse the Korean War as an excuse to take over the nation's steel mills.

Chief Justice Warren Burger was that kind of Justice when he told President Nixon to turn over the White House tapes on Watergate.

And Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was that kind of Justice when she told President Bush that "a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

We need that kind of Justice on the Court more than ever, and it's our duty to ensure that only that kind of justice is confirmed. Today, we have a President who believes that torture can be an acceptable practice, despite laws and treaties that explicitly prohibit it. We have a President who claims the power to arrest American citizens on American soil and jail them for years, without access to counsel or the courts. We have a President who claims he has the authority to spy on Americans without the court order required by law.

The record demonstrates that we cannot count on Judge Alito to blow the whistle when the President is out of bounds. He is a longstanding advocate for expanding executive power, even at the expense of core individual liberties. One thing is clear. Judge Alito's view of the balance of powers is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's historic role of enforcing constitutional limits on Presidential power.

Floor debate on the nomination of Samuel Alito continues today. While there are enough Republican votes to confirm him, there are more than enough Democrats in the Senate to sustain a filibuster—but they have to know that’s what we want! There is still time to call your Senators, but you’ve got to do it now. Call your two, and call Minority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Whip Dick Durbin, and tell them all you want to see the Democrats stand up to Republican bullying, stand up for our Constitutional rights, and stand against the confirmation of Judge Alito. Tell them the only way to say “No” to Alito is to say “Yes” to a filibuster!

You can phone the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (888) 818-6641—an operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

And while you’re at it, forward this information to all your friends. Get everyone you know to make a call!

And, if you want to read more of my (and other’s) musings on the future of America under the “Bush Court,” click on over to Capitoilette.


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