Saturday, 19 August 2006

Still some chains on Government

The reason we have governments is the same reason we have guard dogs: to protect us from those who want to do us over.

The problem with governments and guard dogs is the same however: give 'em an inch and they'll eat you out of house and home; fail to train them properly and they'll be more trouble than they're worth; let them off the chain and they'll end up going for your throat and savaging you instead of the bad guys -- in fact, they'll end up being the bad guys.

That's why Constitutions were invented, and after years of neglect even President George W. Bush can still receive a reminder that the chains of the Constitution can still be felt around his neck.

The US Supreme Court is the body with constitutionally-given power to veto unconstitutional actions of both Legislature and Executive, but the Constitution gives even subordinate courts power to veto. Idiot/Savant sums up recent vetos so well I can only quote him at length. [Thanks I/S.]
The "war on terror" may be eroding human rights an civil liberties, but it is also giving us some of our strongest language in defence of freedom. First, we had the Supreme Court's memorable statement in Hamdi v Rumsfeld that

[A] state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens.

And now we have the statement by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the US District Court, in her decision [PDF] on Bush's warrentless domestic eavesdropping scheme, that

There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution.

and that therefore, the Administration's "arguments" about the "inherent authority of the President as Commander in Chief" are bunk. Even in a time of war, the President is bound by the constitution and the law. He is not, in the infamous words of Nixon's lawyers, powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment.
Even in its dotage there are still serious constitutional chains on the US Government. The Head of State is not an Absolute Monarch.

And guess what: even in its dotage, the 1688 Bill of Rights still imposes constitutional chains on the NZ Government, and the extent of those chains will be tested soon in Darnton V Clark, examining whether or not a Government was entitled to use money appropriated from taxpayers for one purpose for something entirely different.

Like these recent US Supreme Court cases this one goes to very heart of government power, and to that line that divides a constitutional republic from a dictatorship. I look forward to it.

LINKS: "There are no hereditary kings in America" - No Right Turn (Idiot/Savant)
Helengrad, 1688. Bill of Rights. - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Cue Card Libertarianism - Constitution - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Putting freedom beyond the vote - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Darnton Vs Clark - lawsuit website

RELATED: Politics-World, Politics-US, Politics-NZ, Constitution, Darnton V Clark

1 comment:

  1. i guess with ACT you get both government and guard dogs - Rodney Hide's the Bulldog, Richard Prebble's the Mad-dog - sort of a one-stop-protection-shop in a funny sort of way.


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