Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The rule of law

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who you may recall issued 4,000 marriage licenses to gay couples until a court ordered him to stop, has become a scapegoat among Democrats for inflaming conservative passions against gay marriage. George Will has a salient point on the matter:

Newsom's heavily televised grandstanding -- illegally issuing nearly 4,000 same-sex marriage licenses -- underscored what many Americans find really insufferable. It is not so much same-sex marriage that enrages them: Most Americans oppose an anti-same-sex amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is why it fell 49 votes short of the required two-thirds in the House and 19 short in the Senate. Rather, what provokes people is moral arrogance expressed in disdain for democratic due process.

The hallmark of the American constitutional system, and the reason it is a beacon for the rest of the world, warts and all, is that we believe in the rule of law, not of men. That's where Gavin Newsom went wrong.

And speaking of the rule of law, a federal judge has reminded the president that it applies to him too:

A federal judge ruled Monday that President Bush had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions in establishing military commissions to try detainees at the United States naval base here as war criminals.

The ruling by Judge James Robertson of United States District Court in Washington brought an abrupt halt to the trial here of one detainee, one of hundreds being held at Guantánamo as enemy combatants. It threw into doubt the future of the first set of United States military commission trials since the end of World War II as well as other legal proceedings devised by the administration to deal with suspected terrorists.


Blogger the urban fox said...

Excellent news. That's one step towards sanity. The "enemy combatants" Guantanamo issue has been going on for far too long. Does this herald a possible dismantling of Camp X-Ray etc, or am I getting far too over-excited about a fairly minor point of law?

7:27 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I suspect the Justice Department is not going to give up that easily.

10:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Federal judges reminding presidents that the rule of law applies to the CoC is nothing new. Nixon had to be reminded that he couldn't dodge Congressional investigations and impeachment hearings. Reagan had to deal with federal rulings on Iran Contra evidence and the compelling of testimony under oath by his aides. Clinton, of course, learned that even a sitting president had to answer other questions under oath, and faced impeachment for lying therein.

The problem with Bush isn't one of personal arrogance, but more of institutional prejudice. Democrats and Republicans both have had to face the rule of law, and presidents from both parties have long fought it.

12:29 PM


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