Thursday, June 24, 2004

The GOP duck blind

We have known for some time -- since at least Bush v. Gore -- that the Scalia-led conservative faction of the Supreme Court is politically corrupt: It reaches decisions based on not on the law but on what will best serve their movement's agenda, and they will bend the law to extraordinary lengths in doing so.

So today's ruling refusing to open the records of Dick Cheney's energy task-force consultations to the public kind of reiterates the point for us:
Why do the president and his advisers need to be shielded from document searches by groups such as the Sierra Club? The justices answered that question by stressing "the paramount necessity of protecting the Executive Branch from vexatious litigation that might distract it from the energetic performance of its constitutional duties."

It added that "all courts should be mindful of the burdens imposed on the Executive Branch in any future proceedings."

Hmmm. Really.

Of course, previously, there was the Jones v. Clinton ruling:
Petitioner's predictive judgment finds little support in either history or the relatively narrow compass of the issues raised in this particular case. As we have already noted, in the more than 200 year history of the Republic, only three sitting Presidents have been subjected to suits for their private actions. See supra, at 9-10. If the past is any indicator, it seems unlikely that a deluge of such litigation will ever engulf the Presidency. As for the case at hand, if properly managed by the District Court, it appears to us highly unlikely to occupy any substantial amount of petitioner's time.

Of greater significance, petitioner errs by presuming that interactions between the Judicial Branch and theExecutive, even quite burdensome interactions, necessarily rise to the level of constitutionally forbidden impairment of the Executive's ability to perform its constitutionally mandated functions. "[O]ur . . . system imposes upon the Branches a degree of overlapping responsibility, a duty of interdependence as well as independence the absence of which `would preclude the establishment of a Nation capable of governing itself effectively.' " Mistretta, 488 U. S., at 381 (quoting Buckley, 424 U. S., at 121). As Madison explained, separation of powers does not mean that the branches "ought to have no partial agency in, or no controul over the acts of each other." The fact that a federal court's exercise of its traditional Article III jurisdiction may significantly burden the time and attention of the Chief Executive is not sufficient to establish a violation of the Constitution.

Decisions like these, for the Scalia crowd, are as easy as shooting ducks at a country club. You just get to pick and choose your targets.

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