Saturday, March 25, 2006

Wasn't it All About the Rule of Law?

Glenn Greenwald takes on a subject that I have spoken about in the past at length - the rule of law. You know, the very concept that our government is comprised of three co-equal branches, each with their own function.

Used to be, according to all the crap they taught us in civics class, that each branch had their own function. Congress wrote laws. The Supreme Court interpreted the law. The President executed the law.

Now, the President says that he performs all three functions, as long as he's defending the country - which means in this post-9/11 world that the President is King as long as there are any vicious nouns or adjectives out there, or as long as there's someone out in the world that hates the United States.

Here, let him tell you:

Put another way, the Administration has seized the power of Congress to make the laws, they have seized the power of the judiciary to interpret the laws, and they execute them as well. They have consolidated within themselves all of the powers of the government, particularly with regard to national security. This situation is, of course, exactly what Madison warned about in Federalist 47; it really is the very opposite of everything our Government is intended to be:

From these facts, by which Montesquieu was guided, it may clearly be inferred that, in saying "There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates," or, "if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers," he did not mean that these departments ought to have no partial agency in, or no control over, the acts of each other.

His meaning, as his own words import, and still more conclusively as illustrated by the example in his eye, can amount to no more than this, that where the whole power of one department is exercised by the same hands which possess the whole power of another department, the fundamental principles of a free constitution are subverted. This would have been the case in the constitution examined by him, if the king, who is the sole executive magistrate, had possessed also the complete legislative power, or the supreme administration of justice; or if the entire legislative body had possessed the supreme judiciary, or the supreme executive authority.
Look, recursive cites: Moody cites Greewald cites Madison. That's better than Washington Post-grade punditry material, brought to you from the fine folks at Unclaimed Territories and Electronic Darwinism.

No comments: