Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cleaning up George’s Mess—Part 2: The Courts

Another area that will require fixing when we’re finally free of George is the nation’s court system.
“Under the guise of rolling back decades of judicial activism, he has instead a small army of jurists who think of the law in strikingly active terms.”
So says Dahlia Lithwick, a senior editor at Slate, in “Undoing Bush” in Harper’s Magazine. But the worst that he’s done is appoint to the bench believers in the President’s vision of executive authority, sending the balance of powers out of whack. Among other things that Bush has done is change how judicial appointees are vetted and approved. And then there is the case of the fired U.S. attorneys, which
“bears all the hallmarks of Bush’s tendency to view the courts as extensions of his political will.”
What the next president should do, proposes Lithwick, is “dramatically reform the judicial-nomination process” so that nominees cannot hide their views, and they should have to answer questions about their records. Lithwick also argues that we need to “reclaim the language of the rule of law,” and “recognize . . . that ‘activist judges’ and ‘strict construction’ are political, not legal, code words.” The sooner the better.

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