Thursday, August 17, 2006

She ruled against Bush? She must be insane, senile, and Democratic

Now it's Anna Diggs Taylor's turn to be painted as a friend of terrorists and enemy of America.

Taylor, a federal judge in Michigan, decreed in a milestone ruling today that President Bush, by sanctioning and defending his warrantless domestic surveillance program, has managed to violate a congressional resolution, the separation-of-powers doctrine in the Constitution, the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and federal statutory law. As she acidly argued, "the office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America..."

Taylor's court becomes the second federal judicial body to declare that Bush cannot simply do whatever he wants; as I wrote here back on June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court made the same argument when it ruled that Bush's special military tribunals for terrorist suspects violated both U.S. law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The high court said, in its Guantanamo case, that Bush didn't have a "blank check" to limit the legal rights of the accused, when laws and treaties said otherwise. Taylor echoed this kind of reasoning today, when she ruled that Bush's warrantless surveillance of Americans "indisputably" and "obviously" violated the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

Anyway, there's no point in spending much time on Bush's latest judicial slapdown, not with all the breathless cable-friendly developments about Jon Benet in play today. Suffice it to say that, even though the plaintiffs against Bush included Larry Diamond (a former adviser to Bush's Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq) and writer Christopher Hitchens (a war hawk who recently called Iraq "a war to be proud of," Bush's defenders have quickly dismissed Taylor's message -- by focusing instead on the messenger.

Notwithstanding the fact that Taylor followed the general reasoning of the Supreme Court ruling on Guantanamo (in which 3 of the 5 majority judges were GOP appointees); and the fact that, in support of her ruling, she cited the reasoning of a federal district judge appointed by the senior George Bush; and the fact that, to support her ruling, she frequently quoted a key opinion by the late high court justice Lewis Powell, another Republican appointee -- despite all that, the Bush defenders have checked her bio and found what they wanted:

1. Taylor was named to the federal bench in President Jimmy Carter.
2. Also, she used to be married (until 1971) to a Democratic congressman.

Meanwhile, she is being dismissed elsewhere in the Bush-friendly blogosphere as "senile" (she is 74), as possibly insane, and as having written an opinion that echoes "the rhetoric of the moonbats."

This is what happens these days when a judge tries to defend the Constitution. At the very least, this ruling will refuel conservative activists' efforts to place more like-minded judges on the federal bench.