John Roberts should have no problem elucidating the “separation of powers”, because according to him it doesn’t exist. All power resides with the supreme executive; a supposition that Roberts has supported throughout his judicial career.
Ah, yes, judges can still gad about in their black robes drawing the reverential praise of the American public, but the final word on matters of state and law is the president. Period.
This explains Roberts’s recent ruling in the DC Circuit Court, when he voted with the majority (3 to 0) that the Geneva Conventions do not supersede the Presidents authority to conduct the war on terror any way he sees fit; he’s not required to abide by international law. As a matter of fact, President Bush cannot be constrained by any law in carrying out his “constitutionally mandated” powers according to Roberts.
Roberts is not alone in his conclusions either. His cadres at the secretive Federalist Society, the self-proclaimed “radical cabal”, have supported similar rulings throughout its 20 year existence. The Federalists, whose prime objective is to unravel the irksome constitutional guidelines that distribute power to the three co-equal branches of government, have always stood solidly behind the absolute power of the executive. They dismiss the notion of “checks and balances” as a trivial exercise in high school civics. When push comes to shove, despotism still works best they figure.
President Bush summarized Robert’s and the Federalist Society’s approach when he said, “There’s nothing wrong with a dictatorship, as long as I’m the dictator.”
How prescient he was.
There won’t be any carping from the court when rubber-stamp Roberts takes his place alongside fellow Federalists Scalia and Thomas. The president can simply dispose of the law any way he chooses and they’ll provide the legal cover.
When the Padilla case reaches the court next year, the new majority can face it head on, now that the equivocating O’ Connor is gone from their midst. Roberts has already proved that he rejects O’ Connor’s belief that the war on terror is not a “blank check” for the president. Accordingly, Jose Padilla, who has been stripped of all his constitutionally guaranteed rights for over 3 years, can expect to end his days in prison without ever knowing why he is being held.
The Federalist Society also supports this notion of “enemy combatant”; a category of persons who can be deprived of all their “inalienable” rights by presidential fiat. One only has to peruse their web site to detect their utter glee with this new judicial triumph. As a matter of fact, many believe that the moniker itself originated with one of its members; a detail that would surprise no one who understands the tacit objectives of the group. Like Roberts, they believe that governments are established to serve the interests of big business, so they should adopt a “top-down” model of executive rule that is compatible with their benefactors. This explains why Roberts supports everything from shackling a 12 year old girl for eating French fries on the Metro to unreviewable military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. His rulings never veer from his deepest ideological conviction that the law should provide an orderly society for the smooth execution of commerce; nothing more.
It is only logical to expect that he would endorse the unlimited authority of George W Bush; a man who has devoted his entire political career to the wellbeing of corporate America.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: [email protected]