Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Every Little Bit Helps (And Cel Phone Long Distance Is Free!)

So I'm headed to a call-back for an Oregon Lottery commercial in about an hour (Woo hoo! No guarantee that I'm going to get the job... actually, a fairly slim chance of it, as with all commercial auditions. Still, it's incredibly validating to be called back after an audition!), a nd I thought I'd swing by my favorite cyber-cafe on the East side (the Fireside Coffee Lodge at 12th and Powell - check it out!) to talk about something that's been worrying me all week.

Alito's America: It's Not Our America.His name is Judge Sam Alito, and he's one scary guy. That's why I took the time today to look up my state's senators and call them in Washington. I know there are those of you out there who might disagree with me, but I truly believe that if Alito gets onto the Supreme Court the we'll be one giant step closer to United States of America, as we know it today, coming to an end.

Forget the fact that he doesn't believe that women have a constitutional right to decide whether or not they should have an abortion. Forget the fact that the National Bar Association could not support his nomination. Forget the fact that his record shows a consistant disregard for the rights of individuals over those of corporations or the government. Forget the fact that he smugly refused to answer questions during his confirmation hearing, and in many cases gave answers completely at odds with his record.

The truly scary aspect of of Sam Alito joining the Supreme Court is his his hardened belief in what he and the Federalist Society call the "Unitary Executive." Duke University Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky explained this concept yesterday to the Judiciary Committee:

The key question for this committee is whether Samuel Alito will
continue this tradition of enforcing checks and balances, or whether he'll be a
rubber stamp for presidential power.

I have carefully read the writings, the speeches and the decisions of Samuel
Alito in this area, and they all point in one direction: a very troubling
pattern of great deference to executive authority. I've closely followed the
hearings this week, and I know you're familiar with the examples.

To mention just a few: In 1984, while in the solicitor general's office,
Samuel Alito wrote a memo saying that he believed that the attorney general
should have absolute immunity to civil suits for money damages of engaging in
illegal wiretapping, a position the Supreme Court rejected in language that
seems so appropriate now and saying there would be too great a danger of
violation of rights from executive officials, who, in the zeal to protect
national security, would go too far.

The next year, he said there should be increased use of presidential signing
statements. He said, quote: The president should have the last word as to the
meaning of statutes. There should be an increase in executive power.

As you know, in a number of writings and speeches, he said he believed in the
unitary executive theory. Now, there's a good deal of discussion this week as to
what that means. But if you look at the literature of constitutional law, those
who believe in a unitary executive truly want a radical change in American
government. They believe that independent regulatory agencies like the
Securities Exchange Commission or the Federal Communication Commission are
unconstitutional. They believe the special prosecutor's unconstitutional. They
reject the ability of Congress to limit the executive.

This is NOT the principal that this country was founded on! The United States does not have a king, nor do we need one! The idea behind the three branches of government our founders laid out in the consitution is the simplest idea in the world: no one branch of government should have all the power, and the other branches can and should overrule a branch they see as overstepping its bounds (like, say, if one branch should spy on American Citizens?).

Congress is the people's voice in this three-way governing style... our elected officials in congress are meant to have the power to hold the executive accountable for breaches in the law, as they did with Nixon. This "Unitary Executive" theory that Alito holds to would invalidate that, and give the President unequal power in the equation.

I can certainly see why a president who doesn't believe in following the law would want this man on the court... but I can't see why the rest of us should. Give it some thought, and please do call your senators. Let your voice be heard, while you still can.