[eDebate] sit ins & the Constitution Protection League
Thu Jun 22 12:39:17 CDT 2006
check out that last paragraph -- Ultimately, revitalization of the
Constitution will depend on an aroused and mobilized public. That in turn
will help--and if necessary force--Congress and the courts to take on their
constitutional responsibilities for the oversight of government and the
implementation of law."
the whole change of agent to the supreme court is a mistake. civil liberty
gains in the courts almost always are the result of social mobilization.
the debate morons have got it all backwards and do not understand civil
liberties because their immovable commitment to classroom confinement
dictates their thinking more than they care to admit. social mobilization
almost always comes first and then the supreme court can rule on the
protection of civil liberties. the terms of the debate are skewed and in
the midst of the biggest presidential power grab in decades the pedagogy of
competitive debate is directing students in a dangerous direction that will
actually further contribute to the curtailment of their civil liberties.
the whole "speech is action"/"thought is action" case is bankrupt now:
"Bush's usurpations of constitutional powers have been so wide in scope that
they've often been perceived as separate issues affecting distinct
constituencies. Charlie Savage reported in the April 30 /Boston Globe/ that
Bush has claimed he can ignore more than 750 statutes, including "military
rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that
Congress be told about immigration services problems, 'whistleblower'
protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against
political interference in federally funded research." Even those who regard
torture, rendition, government secrecy, domestic spying and similar abuses
as scandalous and reprehensible don't always grasp that they are all
manifestations of the same defiance of constitutional principles. Indeed, we
face a "stealth authoritarianism."
The Cato Institute's new report, /Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of
George W. Bush/, represents a big step toward putting together the pieces...
In response, Specter is planning to call Bush Administration officials and
independent constitutional authorities to a hearing this month. Specter says
Bush's restrictive signing statements on the Patriot Act and the torture
amendment constitute a "very blatant encroachment" on Congress's
constitutional powers. The hearings will provide an opportunity for
potential allies--ranging from the impeachment movement to anti-secrecy
groups and from election campaigners to peace activists--to construct a
common defense of the Constitution. This requires deepening today's nascent
convergence into a "law and democracy" movement, and framing the efforts of
diverse allies--protesters, civil liberties and human rights groups,
military lawyers, legislators and others--in terms of the enforcement of
constitutional principles. This alliance should be presented as pro-law,
pro-Constitution and engaged in a long-term project of democratic
Such an alliance requires coordinated message building--framing debates in
terms of common constitutional concerns. For example, the Iran debate can be
broadened from questions of peace and security to address the limits of
Bush's unilateral war powers authority. This effort could be advanced
through building bipartisan support for Representative Peter DeFazio's
resolution reminding the President that he cannot initiate military action
against Iran without Congressional authorization.
At the grassroots level, such an alliance can make use of existing links
between progressive and conservative constitutionalists, like those created
by the local anti-Patriot Act initiatives, which passed resolutions in 407
communities in at least forty-three states. Grassroots activists could join
to implement Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel's suggestion in a May 1
post on her Editor's Cut blog that "one way to 'nationalize' the 2006
election" would be to "demand that all candidates defend the Constitution."
At an elite level, influential figures like Gore and Barr might move beyond
giving a speech here and there to forming a Constitutional Protection
League, recruiting high-profile personalities to speak and organize on
behalf of constitutional restoration. (A potential model is the
Anti-Imperialist League, formed to fight US annexation of the Philippines.
Notable members included Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James and
Samuel Gompers.) Indeed, the key to such a strategy may be the interaction
of grassroots and elite participants. Pressure from the grassroots can help
mobilize the Gores and Barrs. Their leadership, in turn, can help galvanize
mass support at the grassroots.
Such a strategy has the benefit of defining the issue not as Democrats
versus Republicans but as defenders versus subverters of the Constitution.
That will require an admission that many Democrats have previously
acquiesced in Administration abuses and that Democrats in office have at
times themselves overstepped the Constitution. Fortunately, the peace
movement is outspoken on this topic, and Gore has acknowledged that
"Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame" for
inadequately protesting a "grossly unconstitutional program."
Ultimately, revitalization of the Constitution will depend on an aroused and
mobilized public. That in turn will help--and if necessary force--Congress
and the courts to take on their constitutional responsibilities for the
oversight of government and the implementation of law." unquote
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