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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

We Are Rome

posted by on April 8 at 8:51 AM

From the front page of this morning’s NYT:

Securing the nation’s borders is so important, Congress says, that Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, must have the power to ignore any laws that stand in the way of building a border fence. Any laws at all.

Last week, Mr. Chertoff issued waivers suspending more than 30 laws he said could interfere with “the expeditious construction of barriers” in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The list included laws protecting the environment, endangered species, migratory birds, the bald eagle, antiquities, farms, deserts, forests, Native American graves and religious freedom.

The secretary of homeland security was granted the power in 2005 to void any federal law that might interfere with fence building on the border. For good measure, Congress forbade the courts to second-guess the secretary’s determinations. So long as Mr. Chertoff is willing to say it is necessary to void a given law, his word is final.

Hey, didn’t we elect a new Congress in 2006? Can’t that new Congress—I believe it’s a Democratic Congress now—do something about this?

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We are Berlin.

Posted by DanFan | April 8, 2008 9:18 AM

As long as we're emulating Rome, Senatus Populusque Americanus, let's bring back crucifixion. I'm sure Chertoff has that power now, too.

Posted by Simac | April 8, 2008 9:19 AM

Until they have enough votes to override a veto, I'm afraid the answer is "no." Maybe next year.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 8, 2008 9:20 AM

We must break any laws to protect the I mean Homeland. SEIG HEIL!!!!

Posted by Adolf Hitler | April 8, 2008 9:25 AM

We must break any laws to protect the I mean Homeland. SEIG HEIL!!!!

Posted by Adolf Hitler | April 8, 2008 9:25 AM

This is all John Yoo's fault.

#3, vetoes are nothing but a political gesture. Signing statements are where it's at.

Posted by w7ngman | April 8, 2008 9:28 AM

Speaking of John Yoo, can you believe this massive massive douchebag is a Law Prof at Berkeley? Of all places, Berkeley! I can't believe Cal has not sacked his sorry, torture-endorsing ass. I actually wrote the law school an email yesterday suggesting they do just that. Others should do the same

Posted by TCO | April 8, 2008 9:39 AM

Mein kleines Adölflein: "Sieg, Heil!" The vowels sound different and are thus spelled differently.

Posted by Grammar Marm | April 8, 2008 9:41 AM

Can we please skip to Jan '09 already?

Posted by Mike in MO | April 8, 2008 9:47 AM

TCO, I was wondering the same thing. I can't believe he can get in and out of the building freely. Berkeley's not the place it used to be; can you imagine if Kissinger or McNamara was on that campus in the 60s? And Yoo makes them look like saints in comparison.

Posted by Fnarf | April 8, 2008 9:48 AM

Concordia civium murus urbium.

Posted by kinaidos | April 8, 2008 9:58 AM

No kidding. Berkeley bans military recruiters, but they don't ban treasonous "lawyers?"

I didn't even know they let that man near college students *anywhere*, let alone Berkeley. I figured he just strokes Bush/Cheney's poles and hangs out at AEI all day.

Posted by w7ngman | April 8, 2008 10:04 AM

The judiciary defers heavily to the legislature and the executive when it comes issues of national security. That's nothing new. But a law limiting judicial review of certain types of acts touches first on the judiciary's actual power of review, not on national security. That seems like a congressional act that will not withstand a legal challenge. Chertoff's power to invalidate laws, on the other hand, stands on firmer ground.

Posted by California | April 8, 2008 10:10 AM

Agreed, kinaidos.

Though, look out. That's a foreign language you're speaking there. This wall he wants is probably aimed at keeping non-English speakers like you out of the good ol' U S of A.

Posted by rlv | April 8, 2008 10:22 AM

Wow, this is that rare piece of MSM journalism that states hard facts when hard facts are needed. Like noting that this delegation of power to Chertoff is unconstitutional.

Posted by Gabriel | April 8, 2008 10:29 AM

@7 He probably has tenure.

Posted by Gabriel | April 8, 2008 10:31 AM

Sounds like a great law. It circumvents the stall tactics that are so often employed by "special interest groups"...e.g., politics at a local level to drag their feet over enacting time sensitive border protection measures to defend our soverign territory.

You liberal pansy asses would rather be all touchy feely that it might prevent little Jose from crossing into the country illegally. Short sighted indeed.

Posted by Reality Check | April 8, 2008 11:19 AM

A quotation from Justice Kennedy in regard to a previous, similar case (the line item veto):

“Concentration of power in the hands of a single branch is a threat to liberty.”

Our government was created with 3 branches for a reason--a system of checks and balances so no one branch had all the power.

Regardless of the immigration debate the point here is that Congress ceded not only its power but basically the power of the judicial branch at lower court levels to the executive branch in the name of "homeland" security. One branch now has sweeping powers to ignore the law in order to do what they deem best. Once a precedent like this is set and enforced they can use it for anything.

We are Berlin, indeed.

Posted by PopTart | April 8, 2008 11:38 AM

I think it's getting to be time to move to a less repressive country, like China.

Posted by Greg | April 8, 2008 11:45 AM

Right @17:

'cause "pequeno Jose" sneaking across the border to spend his days as a migrant farm worker picking cheap lettuce for us is much more of a "threat" to our national security, than say, suspending the FUCKING CONSTITUTION.

You scaredy-cat conservatives would rather lock our entire nation up in a hermetically sealed bunker, than run the risk of some dreadful "brown peoples" coming over to do shit jobs you wouldn't take on a bet. Racist and xenophobic indeed.

Posted by COMTE | April 8, 2008 11:49 AM

Right, because illegal immigrants are threatening our sovereignty. The revolution is coming any day now!

Frankly, I could care less about "little Jose", Reality Check. Little Jose mows Michael Chertoff's lawn, and I think I can deal with that.

I'm more worried about "citizens" like you that consider attempts to have laws enforced nothing more than "stall tactics" standing in the way of your own thinly-veiled racism. You applaud a Congress full of hacks that would rather pass a law unconstitutionally ceding power to the executive than actually fulfill their own duties.

Said hacks did not have the political balls to repeal the laws necessary to allow this fence to be built. Was there any backlash when this law was original passed? Not really. Would there have been backlash against repealing "laws protecting the environment, endangered species, migratory birds, the bald eagle, antiquities, farms, deserts, forests, Native American graves and religious freedom." Fuck yes there would have been. It was a lot easier for them to cede power to Dear Leader and their hack counterparts in the executive through some easily overlooked procedural mumbojumbo than it is to actually solve their own problems the correct way.

It's not a surprise that someone who uses "liberal" as an insult would not have the ability to grasp how ceding power in this manner is a greater threat to your way of life than any harmless Mexicans will ever be.

Posted by w7ngman | April 8, 2008 11:58 AM

There's really nothing to be done but drugs.

Posted by Stoner | April 8, 2008 12:01 PM

300 days and a wakeup.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 8, 2008 12:42 PM

#23, the sad part is, it doesn't feel like too much of a stretch to think that a Democratic president wouldn't try to continue the same John Woo-inspired executive power shenanegans once elected. I mean, as long as noone lifts a finger to stop it, why not?

Posted by w7ngman | April 8, 2008 3:18 PM

no one's goig to even lift a finger to stop it, because it's it's not going to start, it's going to roll on via the magic of momentum and it won't get much news coverage, and even if it does, most folks aren't paying attention to boring, nerdy stuff like this -- Lindsay Lohan isn't dead yet.

I can definitely see HRC retaining these powers. And I've not go much hope re. Obama on this one, either, on this subject.

BTW, the endangered species issue has already come up with the border fence, I think it's a species of ocelot down on the eastern Rio Grande that's not able to migrate N-S now. Hard to builld something for the cats to get through/over that isn't also an aid to the border sneaker-inner.

Posted by CP | April 8, 2008 5:15 PM

How can Congress address border issues, La Frontera, that they cannot possibly understand? I'm expecting Obama to add some sanity, compassion, common sense, etc. to this once he's President.

Posted by Mrs. Jarvie | April 8, 2008 5:17 PM

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