The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that the enemy combatants held by the US Military at Guantanamo have the right to appeal their detention in US federal courts (NY Times). The ruling will no doubt lead to the Republican battle cry that Democrats are best friends with Al Qaeda, and want lenient, liberal judges.
With the Executive Branch (think Bush-Cheney) virtually taking over the country without much of a fight by Congress (think door mat), many Americans are reminded of Civics 101—about the checks and balances within the government. Today, the Judiciary made it clear that it is still a relevant branch.
Although pundits declare that the 2008 Presidential election will be decided by issues such as the tanking economy versus the mess in Iraq, social security v. health care, and medicare v. tax policies, the future of the Supreme Court could potentially be the most significant social agenda this year. The two most liberal justices, Ginsberg and Stevens, are 75 and 88, respectively, and the next President could be appointing anywhere from 3 to 4 justices over his 8 year watch. Abortion rights, consumer protection, affirmative action, minority rights, gay marriage, governmental wire-tapping--the future of these issues could all be decided by the next Supreme Court.
In theory, courts are supposed to be non-partisan, but that is not true either. Many states elect their own Supreme Court Justices. John Grisham, in his book The Appeal, wrote of a billionaire who wanted to overturn a massive jury verdict against his company, and found a no-name lawyer to run for the seat in that state's Supreme Court which would be hearing the ... appeal.
At the corporate level, strong CEO’s are often the reason of a weak Board. They seem to come hand-in-hand. Jack Welch, the most respected CEO in US for some time, is now accused of being a one-man show. You can't get something for free. Over and over, we find that the strong ones are the ones that later get in trouble--back dating stock options, exhorbitant compensation packages, and friends on the Board.
Perhaps the distrust of Mr. Bush’s Administration has less to do with his policies (no one in Congress dares impeach him), but more with his incompetence. As much as we are enamored with the checks and balances, people put up little fight when strong, and competent leaders take over, even at the expense of governance. People love strong leaders.
So what do the Democrats want? A strong President in Mr. Obama who may become another Bush in terms of exerting Presidential powers, but hopefully with more competence, or a weaker version that respects the proper balance?
In the movie Dreamgirls, Danny Glover played aging manager Marty Madison, and had to deal with his long-time friend and singer, Jimmy “Thunder” Early (played beautifully by Eddie Murphy), who wanted to go with the “new” sound. Jimmy wanted his old friend to stick with him for old time’s sake, even after deciding to betray Marty’s confidence.
“You can’t have it all, Jimmy,” Marty said, “You can’t have it all.”