Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Democracy Now: Kim Gandy on Roberts; Tom Hayden, Matthew Rothschild, Anne (Peevish), Delilah (Scrivener's Lament) ...

KIM GANDY: But I think it's clear from what he has said, I don't think he has been dishonest in the sense of what "is" is, but he has been misleading. He has very brilliantly -- I agree with the right wing commentator that he has brilliantly given answers that have led some people, including ones on the committee, to believe that he supports the right to privacy and the Roe framework, when in fact he has been laying out, and I hope never to need to say, "I told you so," because I hope he won't be confirmed, but if he is confirmed, I think that people will look back and they will say, "Oh, yeah. See here, right here in the hearing, he talked about erosion. He talked about workability. He talked about extensive disagreement as being grounds for reversal, and gee, isn't it interesting? These are the exact grounds they used to reverse Roe."

The above is from Democracy Now!'s "Roberts Testifies Roe V. Wade is 'Settled as Precedent' But Refuses to Say Whether He Would Reverse Abortion Ruling" and was selected by Erika, Shirley, Marcia, Kara, Joan and Rob. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for September 14

- John Roberts: Roe v. Wade A "Precedent of the Court"
- Baghdad Suicide Car Bombing Kills 114
- Hurricane Katrina Death Toll Tops 650
- Bush Takes Responsibility For Mistakes in Relief Effort
- Appeals Court Oks Indefinite Detention Without Trial
- UP to 200 Detainees On Hunger Strike At Guantanamo
- Frances Newton Set To Be Executed in Texas

Roberts Grilled on Voting Rights Act

Chief Justice nominee John Roberts was grilled on a number of contentious issues on the second day of his Senate confirmation hearing, including abortion, civil rights, women's rights and education. We play excerpts of the hearing. [includes rush transcript]

Roberts Testifies Roe v. Wade is "Settled As a Precedent" But Refuses to Say Whether He Would Reverse Abortion Ruling

Chief Justice nominee John Roberts declined to say on Tuesday if he would reverse the long-standing decision legalizing abortion, but said he believed the Constitution accorded Americans the right to privacy, which is the key underpinning of Roe v. Wade. We speak with the president of the National Organization for Women. [includes rush transcript - partial]


KIM GANDY: Well, I think that many of the reports of what has come out of this discussion have been quite misleading, and I think that's because John Roberts’s answers have been misleading, combined with inadequate questions or inadequate follow-up, and let me offer several explanations for that. One is that he repeatedly says and the media repeatedly repeats that he says, "Well, that is settled law; it's entitled to respect as a precedent, as any other precedent, under the principles of stare decisis." That is a meaningless statement. Of course, every precedent, however ridiculous, is entitled to respect, which means to be -- it means recognition, in a legal sense, not respect as in the way -- that you think it was rightly decided. For instance, you might have respect for an office someone holds, like President of the United States, but not necessarily have a personal respect for the person who holds the office, and that's true of this kind of precedent.

What he said repeatedly was that he was not willing to state his position beyond what his writings were on Roe v. Wade, but did give, in my opinion, and in the opinion of a number of people, he did give a roadmap for overruling Roe. He basically laid out several ways that a Roberts court, unlike the Rehnquist court, could and I think would, overrule Roe. One of them is addressing privacy. Several senators said, "Oh, well, he says that he believes there's a right to privacy in the Constitution." And indeed, he said there's a right to privacy in the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

But there are lots of different kinds of rights to privacy, specifically the Griswold case, which was the 1965 case that said married women could not be legally banned from access to birth control. He came right out and said, "Oh, you know, Griswold, I feel comfortable commenting on Griswold. That's -- you know, that's not going to ever come back before us. That was rightly decided," he said, "under the right of marital privacy," and he used the term twice. He referred to marital privacy and the right of married women to obtain birth control. But the right of marital privacy is not what Roe was based on, nor is it what Eisenstadt v. Baird was based on, the right of single women to obtain contraception. And he actually said that himself in an exchange with Feinstein about the Griswold case. So, he said, "Absolutely, I agree, there's a right to marital privacy, and I agree with Griswold."

What he would not say was that he agreed with the privacy basis in the 14th Amendment, as he called it, the liberty interests of the 14th Amendment.

Texas Death Row Prisoner Scheduled to Die Today: Lawyers Seek Last-Minute Stay

Frances Newton, death row prisoner in Texas, is scheduled to be executed later today but lawyers are seeking a last-minute stay on her execution. We speak to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D - Texas) and an anti-death penalty activist about the case.

Ronald e-mails to note Tom Hayden's "SEPT. 15- FIRST HEARINGS ON EXIT STRATEGY" (The Huffington Post):

Today you commence a vital shift in our government's official discourse on Iraq, from how to win the war in Iraq to how to withdraw troops and end the occupation. This change of paradigm is overdue, is in keeping with public sentiment, and begins to fill a dangerous vacuum. We cannot accept a faith-based commitment to "stay the course" when a majority of Americans believe the war is mistaken, when the cost of hurricane damage is two years of Iraq spending, when National Guardsmen who need to be home are forty percent of the troops on the ground in Iraq, when the original "coalition of the willing" is rapidly disintegrating. Proposals to "stay the course" for another decade - a typical length of counter-insurgency wars- could easily mean over 7,000 more American lives lost, 40,000 American wounded, and some $600 billion in tax expenditures.

As one of the original advocates of this Congressional hearing, I am submitting a concrete exit strategy proposal supported by over 20,000 petitions, a number which is still growing. This is the first blueprint for withdrawal and ending the occupation submitted after extensive discussions by representatives of social movements.

I must note that while peace advocates originally proposed this hearing, their voices are missing from the witness list, with the exception of Andy Shallal, an Iraqi-American. Those with the intelligence to have opposed this war from the beginning surely deserve a voice in discussions of how to end it. If this were a hearing on the status of women, women's advocates would have a voice in the proceedings. If this were a hearing on the state of African Americans, or the state of Latinos, there would be black and Latino representation at the table. But when it comes to making peace the peace movement is rarely if ever heard.

Lloyd e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Eats Cockroach of Responsibility" (The Progressive):

Wow, that must have been a hard sell to go to the President and tell him he'd have to accept responsibility for Katrina.

Bush thinks being President means never having to say you're sorry. He told Bob Woodward once that the "interesting thing about being the President" was "I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

But now he's got a lot of explaining to do.

"To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," he said, looking all the world like he'd just eaten a raw cockroach.

Be honest: To a huge extent, the federal government didn't fully do its job.

So Bush must take responsibility for all of that, and for many of the needless deaths in Katrina's aftermath.

Todd e-mails to note Delilah's "George W. Vacuum" (A Scrivener's Lament):

Have you forgotten?

On 9/11, George W. AWOL flew west, out of harm's way. BushCo even lied about threats to Air Force One that day because they knew how bad it looked for the president to run away and hide.

One photo op with a bullhorn and George W. Scott Free "got on with his life."

And never forget: the infrastructure of New York City wasn't destroyed on 9/11. Survivors weren't abandoned. They weren't left to bloat in polluted, snake infested waters by an uninvolved federal government.

Take responsibility?

George W. Vacuum?

Never in a million years.

Did he take responsibility for handing Halliburton another juicy government contract last week?

Didn't think so.

Krista and Gina have covered the below in the gina & krista round-robin but on the rare chance that anyone interested has missed it, from NOW:

Week of Action Planned to Oppose John Roberts' Nomination
Chapters around the country are taking action, and join us for a week of actions in Washington, D.C. NOW President Kim Gandy says, "John Roberts is not just a conservative... Roberts' attitudes aren't conservative, they're simply backward. And women can't afford to go that direction."
Take Action! Talking Points
Young Feminist Week of Action
NOW Chapters Taking Action
Confirmation Crasher Blog

Susan wonders what's up with Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of Karl Rove and offers Michael Wolff's "All Roads Lead To Rove" (Vanity Fair):

There is Time's Matt Cooper, a very decent fellow of my acquaintance (married, it is impossible in the ironies department not to note, to Mandy Grunwald, whose father, Henry, ran Time magazine, where Cooper works, in an era when the government was not so sharp when it came to the media, and who, herself, is a very sharp media political consultant who has advised both Clintons, and who has, it is likely, done some leaking herself), marching with seeming stoicism to his protect-my-source jail cell. But who, beyond ritual denial, seemed awfully relieved when his bosses took it upon themselves to release his notes and name his source (perhaps he felt a little guilty about his secret). And then, when that didn't get him excused, he announced a breathless last-minute release from his source, which turned out to be, according to Robert D. Luskin, Rove's lawyer, nothing but a reconfirmation of the pro forma release the White House had already required the source--and all potential sources--to sign (and which Cooper had said before was not good enough). So, baloney. And then there is the piece about all this that he did in fact write for Time nearly two years after he might just as well have written it.

(We've noted this article before and Susan knows that. Her purpose in noting it is to remind the community that Fitzerald is still investigating.)

(Susan also notes that Van Fair has put Dorothy Parker's "Our Office: A Hate Song" -- from May 1919 -- up at the site.)

??? e-mails to note Doug Ireland's "Padilla" (ZNet):

When a federal district court ruled last week in favor of President Bush in the case of Jose Padilla -- the only American imprisoned as an "enemy combatant" by Presidential order -- it struck a major blow at the Constitution, upholding actions by the administration which Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has said "created a unique and unprecedented threat to the freedom of every American citizen."

Padilla was a Puerto Rican kid born in New York City who had drifted from New York to Chicago to Florida, always with the law close at his heels, and who had converted to Islam (and taken the name Abdul al Muhajir) while in jail. His arrest in May 2002 was announced with huge media fanfare by Attorney General John Ashcroft in a press conference broadcast by satellite from Moscow! With Bush's Justice Department under criticism for having failed to make any major arrests of terrorists (at a time when foreign governments from France to Morocco were rolling up Al Qaeda - related networks), the traveling Ashcroft interrupted his Russian visit to proclaim that the arrest of Padilla was "a significant step forward in the War on Terrorism. We have captured a known terrorist who was exploring a plan to build and explode a radiological device, or 'dirty bomb' in the United States." Within minutes of Ashcroft's press conference, the all-news cable networks were running scary pictures of mushroom clouds.

Shortly after the arrest, President Bush issued an executive order designating Padilla an "enemy combatant" and ordered him locked away in a military brig in South Carolina -- where he has languished since in a windowless, 5 by 7 foot cell that is always brightly lit -- without an indictment, a trial, or access to a lawyer. A coalition of civil liberties groups from left and right -- from the ACLU to the libertarian conservative Cato Institute -- eventually filed a habeas corpus petition on Padilla's behalf. As the Cato Institute's senior Constitutional scholar, Robert Levy has written, "An unambiguous federal statute and the U.S. Constitution both prohibit the executive branch from doing to Padilla what it is now doing.

More than three decades ago, Congress passed Title 18, section 4001(a) of the U.S. Code. It states, 'No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.' Today, we have not had from Congress any statute that authorizes Padilla's detention." And indeed, the federal Court of Appeals in the Second District in New York City, after hearing the civil liberties groups' case, ruled that Padilla's detention in communicado and without trial was illegal and un-Constitutional.

Cindy e-mails to note Ralph Nader's "Questioning Judge Roberts" (CounterPunch):

You will hear about Judge Roberts from several perspectives, but it is safe to assume that questions and testimony about Judge Roberts' views on corporate power and the rule of law will be inadequate given the broad and profound impact giant corporations have on our democracy. An important procedural and substantive corollary is the important role our civil justice system plays in expanding the frontiers of justice and in giving individuals the ability to hold "wrongdoers" accountable in a court of law. "If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice," said the famous jurist, Learned Hand.

Unfortunately, powerholders, corporations and other institutions which are supposed to be held accountable by the civil justice system, are striving to weaken, limit and override the province of juries and judges. Some companies, led by insurers, have used expensive and focused media to promote the view that civil juries are too costly and too unpredictable. This narrow and short-sighted perspective is contrary to the long-standing tenets of our democracy and in particular the Seventh Amendment to our Constitution.

The civil jury system of the United States embraces a fundamental precept of tested justice: ordinary citizens applying their minds and values can and do reach decisions on the facts in cases that often involve powerful wrongdoers. This form of direct citizen participation in the administration of justice was deemed indispensable by this nation's founders and was considered non-negotiable by the leaders of the American revolution against King George III. But the civil jury is more than a process toward bringing a grievance to resolution. The civil jury is a pillar of our democracy necessary for the protection of individuals against tyranny, repression and mayhem of many kinds and for the deterrence of such injustices in the future. Our civil jury institution is a voice for and by the citizenry in setting standards for a just society. Jury findings incorporated in appellate court decisions contribute to one of the few authoritative reservoirs of advancing standards of responsibility between the powerful and the powerless -- whether between companies and consumers, workers, shareholders and community or between officialdom and taxpayers or citizens in general. Knowing the evolution of the common law and the civil jury provides compelling and ennobling evidence of this progression of justice. Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote, " The founders of our Nation considered the right of trial by jury in civil cases an important bulwark against tyranny and corruption, a safeguard too precious to be left to the whim of the sovereign, or, it might be added, to that of the judiciary."2

As the hearing unfolds, I suggest that the members of the Judiciary Committee devote some time to areas beyond those that are traditionally the focus of witnesses and questioning by Committee members and ask fundamental questions about the views of Judge Roberts, a former corporate lawyer at Hogan & Hartson, regarding corporate power and the civil justice system.

Ben e-mails to note Anne's "What Else?" (Peevish...I'm Just Saying):

150. that's the estimated body count from the latest round of violence in Iraq.

For those interested, Reuters is offering us a timeline of some of the major bomb attacks In Iraq since we gave them democracy and freedom.

Hunger strikers at Gitmo are getting force-fed.

To borrow from an old joke, I wouldn't want to have his nerve in my tooth. George Bush? Asking the world to have "compassion" for the "needy"? What planet is his brain from?

Brenda e-mails to note Arianna Huffington's "Another Victim of Katrina: Media Coverage of Iraq" (The Huffington Post):

The mono maniacs in the media are at it again, focusing all their attention on a single story to the exclusion of all others.

At least thist time, the story galloping herd has focused on is a mega -disaster and not Michael Jackson or Natalee Holloway or the Brad-Jen-Angelina triangle. But as monumental a story as Katrina is, why aren't the American media capable of covering two disasters at the same time?

I'm talking, of course, about the other disaster facing our country, Iraq. You remember Iraq, don't you? I wouldn't blame you if it's slipped your mind, because it has certainly fallen off the media radar screen since Katrina came ashore -- devastating the Gulf Coast and blowing the devastation in the Persian Gulf off the front pages.

But that's definitely where it belongs. Especially given how much there is on the Iraq beat for the media to be covering.

Pam e-mails asking me is Laura Flanders on Air America right now? From The Laura Flanders Show:

Wednesday, September 14, 3-7pm

  • We'll discuss the John G. Roberts hearings with professor of Constitutional Law, JAMIN RASKIN.
  • Then, GEORGE McGOVERN reflects on his life in politics and the new documentary about his 1972 run for president: One Bright and Shining Moment.
  • "The Brit who set Congress straight about Iraq", British MP GEORGE GALLOWAY joins us prior to his debate with Christopher Hitchens in New York.
  • MEDEA BENJAMIN, founding director of GLOBAL EXCHANGE (and co-founder of CODEPINK Women for Peace) talks about "Bush's human wrecking ball" John Bolton and the UN.
  • And we'll get frontline reports on Hurricane Katrina recovery from hip-hop activist and journalist ROSA CLEMENTE and SISSY LUIS.

Sorry, Pam, I forgot (and mixed my days up). Flanders is also filling in for Randi Rhodes on Friday. To listen, click here.

Flanders subs for Rhodes on Friday. Tomorrow Roberts' hearings continue (Pacifica carries them live) and Lynn Woolsey's hearings (see Hayden item above) start (CSPAN is supposed to broadcast them).

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