We recently received the amicus brief in the challenge to the Sarah Palin "Troopergate" investigation. Ted Frank, co-author of the brief, is one of the group of amici whom the Daily Kos recently described as neo-conservatives "representing the pro-Palin legislators" … "out of state lawyers" who are making "ridiculous arguments" based on a "ridiculous notion."
Surely I, a left coast liberal, who never makes ridiculous arguments, would have nothing in common with those people or agree with their legal position?
Well, it turns out that the "ridiculous" argument the amici make is that legislative committees need to follow their own rules, State law and the Constitution – and, when someone claims that they are not, the Courts have authority to review their conduct. (An argument I myself made in a similar case a few years ago).
And, as it happens, the decisions of one of our most liberal (some even call ‘activist’) Supreme Courts – the Warren Court – provide the strongest support for this ‘ridiculous’ argument. In fact, the Supreme Court used this very power to dismantle some of the abuses of the McCarthy era legislature – for which the McCarthyites demonized it, calling for the impeachment of Earl Warren. See e.g. Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178 (1957).
So, how is it that the Daily Kos, which has been accused of being so far left that it is "extremist" – is now demonizing the proponents of this very same principle and claiming it to be ridiculous?
Should our personal or political differences with the attorneys, or for that matter the parties, in a case really shape our view of the fundamentals of our legal system – our constitution, the rule of law, and the role of the judiciary as a check on the power of other branches? If so, at what cost?
Share your thoughts.