The Bush administration's proposed Department of Homeland Security is stalled in Congress. It is stalled not, as one might expect, because the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate fear the bill would threaten civil liberties in the United States by vastly increasing the national security state--rather, the Democrats worry that it would create a class of nonunionized federal employees. Instead, the most vocal critics of the bill's impact on American liberties are not Democrats at all but a group that used to be among George W.
First Monday CBS The Court ABCWhen Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line Between Law and Popular Culture by Richard K. Sherwin (University of Chicago Press, 325 pp., $27) Click here to purchase the book. The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's Washington edited by Dennis J. Hutchinson and David J. Garrow (University of Chicago Press, 310 pp., $32.50) Click here to purchase the book. I. In recent months, two network dramas about the Supreme Court were introduced with the usual hype and then promptly canceled.
It is June 2005. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy goes on a fact-finding mission to Guantanamo Bay, where he meets with Al Qaeda prisoners of war. Furious over Leahy's refusal to confirm federal judges, President George W. Bush plots revenge. When Leahy arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport, he is arrested by military police on the grounds that he has passed information to the enemy and is therefore an enemy combatant.
Opponents of the Child Online Protection Act are putting their best face on last week's Supreme Court decision to send Ashcroft v. ACLU back to a lower court for further study. The ACLU was thrilled when a Philadelphia district court, concerned that the law violated free speech, temporarily banned it in 1999. And Ann Beeson, the ACLU lawyer who argued the case before the Supreme Court, said the Court "clearly had enough doubts about this broad censorship law to leave in place the ban, which is an enormous relief to our clients."But that's too rosy a reading of the Court's fractured opinions.
The Supreme Court is about to decide the constitutionality of school choice; but it is doing so with a peculiar blindness to the politics of school choice. In arguments on February 20, a majority of justices seemed to agree that Cleveland's voucher program would be constitutional if low-income parents had a meaningful range of schools--religious and secular, public and private-- from which to choose.
The Supreme Court has not yet indicated how it will respond to September 11, but the judicial philosophy that the conservative majority had embraced before the Twin Towers fell seems hard to sustain in a new and anxious age. The conservatives had planted their flag on principles of federalism and states' rights; today both parties appreciate the need for a national response to international terror. The conservatives had displayed contempt for Congress as a policy-making body; today Congress enjoys renewed public respect.
Of all the new security measures adopted by the Bush administration since September 11, the most draconian involve the detention and interrogation of aliens. In his dragnet effort to uncover evidence of terrorism, Attorney General John Ashcroft has authorized the detention of some 1,100 noncitizens. Some have been held for months and--thanks to recently passed legislation--may be held indefinitely. Critics call the Ashcroft detentions unconstitutional.
A Trial by Jury by D. Graham Burnett (Alfred A. Knopf, 183 pp., $21) Among political theorists today, there is a vigorous debate between those who advocate deliberative democracy and those who emphasize public ignorance. The deliberative democrats insist that it is not enough for laws and jury verdicts to be adopted democratically. Instead they must be adopted for the right reasons.
The terrorist threat is all too real, but newspapers and TV stations around the globe are still managing to exaggerate it. As new cases of anthrax infection continue to emerge, the World Health Organization is begging people not to panic. But tabloid headlines like this one from The Mirror in London send a different message: "PANIC." A Time/CNN poll found that nearly half of all Americans say they are "very" or "somewhat" concerned that they or their families will be exposed to anthrax, even though only a handful of politicians and journalists have been targeted so far. This isn't surprising.
Imagine this: FBI agents get an anonymous tip that a red van with biological weapons has just dumped anthrax in the Central Park reservoir. They'd like to search all the red vans in the area, but by law they can't. Once a crime has occurred, an anonymous tip can't create reasonable suspicion for an investigative search, according to the Supreme Court.Now imagine this: You illegally download a copyrighted MP3 file, violating your terms of service contract with America Online.