Begging the amendment

Two guys writing in the Sunday Outlook section of the Washington Post write:

>When conservatives say that we want “conservative” judges, or “strict constructionist” or “constitutionalist” judges, what we mean is pretty simple: *We want judges who won’t make stuff up.* We want judges who won’t view the Constitution as a mirror in which, at every turn, they see reflected their own opinions and policy preferences. We want judges who will play it straight, read the Constitutional or statutory text (our text, not foreign ones, which the court has relied on in cases like last session’s Roper v. Simmons , which held execution of juveniles to be unconstitutional), and apply it as fairly as they can to the individual case before them. [emphasis added].

And we cannot help but wonder whether these two fellows have read the Constitution of the United States. Not be glib, but the Constitution’s Ninth Amendment reads–strictly quoted:

>The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Puzzling. The Constitution says unqualifiedly that the enumeration of specific rights doesn’t mean that other unenumerated rights can be denied or disparaged. Now of course such rights are *not* enumerated in the Constitution–but they are claimed to exist–so one has to wonder how people have been able to say “inventing new rights” (as do the knuckleheads who wrote this piece) without shamelessly assuming the very thing they must demonstrate (that the rights in question are not rights retained). So the Constitution itself says that just because it isn’t in there does not mean it’s not a right.

Strictly construed, in other words, the Constitution does not strictly construe itself.

14 thoughts on “Begging the amendment”

  1. well, that pretty sums it up. now all you have to do is get everyone with any real voice to spread this around. perhaps the bilderberg group.

  2. The article by Hinderacker and Mirengoff disappointed me, for I was looking for information about Judge Alito and what I got was a rather long, predictable joke. Instead of a well reasoned, sincere and informative advocacy piece in favor of the confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court, the article quickly became merely a superficial and shallow bit of demagoguery – mere propaganda replete with the rhetorical tricks of the political cheerleader. The message of these authors, boiled to its essentials and stripped of its loaded terms, is merely “hurray for our team” and “boo for the other side.” One hoped and expected something of better quality, something more substantive out of almost half a page in the Outlook section. By reducing the complexity and nuance of the practice of law and the proper task of the judiciary to the authors’ deceptively simplistic desire that judges “not make stuff up,” the authors succeed only in impugning and ridiculing those properly concerned with the protection of liberty and equality in America. At the heart of what these authors present is a logical fallacy inherent now in much of the “debate” over the proper role of the judiciary. That fallacy puts forth a premise that is not actually in conflict with its predicate — e.g., statement: No true Scotsman puts sugar on his pudding; reply: but Uncle Angus puts sugar on his pudding; restatement: No true(itals) Scotsman puts sugar on his pudding. Of course, putting sugar on one’s pudding has absolutely nothing to do with being a Scotsman – you either are or you are not a Scotsman irrespective of putting sugar on pudding or anything else. So, judicial interpretation, which by its very nature may extend the law or make new law, is not actually inconsistent with, let alone a contradiction of, the legally accepted and appropriate definition of the role of the judiciary or a Supreme Court Justice. Like many examples of political propaganda, the article begins by presenting a serious issue so the authors can adopt at least the guise of seriousness and sincerity: when court decisions that frustrate the expectations of one group or another may be labeled as an instance of judicial activism. Where one stands on this issue, and on the question of the meaning of term “judicial activism” itself, now perhaps has come to depend too much on where you sit. The term as the authors use it, is loaded, as it contains an unstated premise that the appropriate function of the judiciary is not to extend the law, or does not admit that interpreting the law may to some extent involve the creation of new law. Here is where the authors try to pull the wool over the eyes of the general reader by supporting the view that when judges create new law, they are not performing their duty as an interpreter of the law, but may instead be ruling on the basis of personal convictions, or some other inappropriate ground. Whether or not the authors are being sincere, they use the terms “judicial activism” and “judicial restraint” merely as pretentious slogans to support their view that the judges they want on the Supreme Court, judges who don’t “legislate from the bench,” are the kinds exemplified by today’s supposedly “conservative” wing of the Supreme Court. Often cited is Justice Byron White’s definition of “judicial activism” in his dissenting opinion in Doe v. Bolton (it is of course arguable whether White here accurately describes what occurred in Doe): “I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right…and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state…statutes.” Yet, the authors’ favorite “strict constructionist” conservatives on this Supreme Court have invalidated legislation more quickly than has any other Supreme Court since before the New Deal. And these so-called conservatives have done this on the basis that only the Supreme Court can decide what kinds of state action might threaten religious liberty, might discriminate invidiously against the elderly or the disabled, or might otherwise warrant action by Congress to exercise its constitutional power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to determine what legislation is necessary and appropriate to protect liberty and equality in America. Today’s controversies over liberty, equality, personal privacy, and government power have implicated practices from body cavity searches to infrared surveillance of home life to spousal or parental involvement in abortion. Tomorrow’s may involve questions about cloning body parts, implanting once-frozen embryos, deploying genetic screening or brain scans, and heaven knows what else. Slogans about just following ”settled law” as though it were a computer application, sticking to the text’s ”original meaning” as if that were a matter of scientific fact, never ”legislating from the bench” as if judges ever think they’re doing that, remaining within an imagined ”mainstream,” and by all means respecting precedent — particularly so-called ”super-precedent” — offer precious little insight into how a justice might actually approach these brave new worlds. If we care about the future of liberty in this country, we’d better stop the charade of pressing the nominee to tell us where he or she ”really” stands on buzzwords like privacy or states’ rights and start probing for clues to the nominee’s basic ways of understanding society and law’s place within it. As for this article, while I would stand together with anyone sincere in their commitment to America’s liberty and the democratic process, I simply don’t see that spirit in this article’s simplistic boorish name-calling.

  3. Now here is something of some interest which is rather informative. Press accounts say that senators have said they heard a clear signal from Judge Alito: “”He assured me that he has tremendous respect for precedent and that his approach is to not overturn cases due to a disagreement with how they were originally decided.”

    The last phrase is what gives me great comfort — for there can be no basis at all to overturn Roe other than that Alito disagreed with how it was originally decided. In other words, unlike that Powerline pair of blogging bigots, Alito is saying he is not going to examine whether Roe was correctly decided in the first place. He isn’t going to say, like those two smug SOBs did, that the right to privacy found in the Constitution by judicial interpretation in Roe (a right reserved to the people and not yielded to the government as our well-informed host noted above) was “made up” and therefore invalid because it wasn’t spelled out in the Constituiton.

    To be honest, I think you’d have to call the two guys from Powerline a pair of populist authoritarians — which I recommend as a good term among more enlightened folk to describe what used to be called corporatists, or more simply, fascists.

    So how would Alito overturn Roe in light of what he said? We now need to look at Alito’s cases to see where he has written about the basis he would use to overturn an important precedent. If I find that bit of news, I’ll pass it on here.

    It isn’t the whole answer to the question, but it is a good step on the way.

  4. The glaring discrepancy in the entire “judicial activism” mularkey now sweeping the country with ever-increasing levels of mouth-breathing is the complete ignorance of the distinction between “enumerated” rights, they being those rights named explicity in the Constitution, and implicit rights, they consisting of those rights implied by the intentionally vague language of the document. The most obvious example of these types of rights is the oft panted over expectation of privacy. Although not explicity stated, the entire Bill of Rights implies the right to an expectation of privacy(the protection of illegal search and siezure uses similar language, but limits the gurantee to home and person). Even the belaboured phrase “strict interpretation” belies an intentional ignorance of the intent of the Framers. They made a document that reached far beyond even their own personal beliefs in its guarantees of freedoms by making a set of malleable statutes. To stop such an organic process now and regress from the continuation of the intended function of the Constitutional process is utterly ridiculous. What these two gibronis meant in their piece is that they want a justice who only interprets the Constitution to their liking, in short, they do want a justice who will “make stuff up.”

  5. So should Alito go down because of the memo he wrote seeking a political job 20 years ago in which he espouses the kind of right wing nutcake beliefs necessary as lip service then and now?

    Yes — because that is how the game is played.

    If it were a question of substance here, perhaps the result ought to be different — but this is hard ball we’re playing.

    Besides, if it were a question of substance, I’d have to ask a serious question about the Supreme Court of the United States:

    Is it really such a good idea to have a majority of 5 white males on the Court who happen to be Catholic?

    I’d say no — not on your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness it isn’t.

  6. Democracy: The Art of Governing the Circus from the Monkey Cage

    H.L. Mencken once said: “The typical American of today has lost all the love of liberty that his forefathers had, and all their disgust of emotion, and pride in self-reliance. He is led no longer by Davy Crocketts; he is led by cheer leaders, press agents, word-mongers, uplifters. … the only way to success in American public life is in flattering and kowtowing to the mob.”

    Actually, Herb, old Davy and a PR savvy political hack wouldn’t exactly spoil a pair, but maybe you were referring to the fact that not one of the Scooter Libbys of today would have a fraction of the actual grit a man from Dav’s time had to have just to get a drink in a tavern and walk out alive.

    I think while it is fairly well established by now that the only “bars” Davy wrestled were those in the taverns of the day, he did actually die at the Alamo. At the time, there in the Alamo, I’m sure Davy, a former member of congress, wasn’t writing pornographic novels about bears having sexual congress with teenaged girls.

    However, working for Dick Cheney apparently calls for a different sort of tough guy. Check out Scooter’s “The Apprentice” and see just how high we’ve all risen in terms of the quality of our public servants.

    Now that the more or less expected disaffection of voters with a second-term President and his party full of Scooters has set in, perhaps now it will be possible to show to all the American people just what this Republican, so-called “conservative” majority is all about: the cynical exploitation of those with religious beliefs who wish to see those beliefs imposed thru law on all Americans.

    But not really. They don’t mean it, you see

    That is, the so-called “conservatives” feign religious fervor and commitment merely to get a whole bunch of worker bees at the party.

    The Miers’ nomination was evidence of this. The religious right now is beginning to sense the duplicity here: the Republican insiders and leaders don’t want their new Supreme Court appointees actually to succeed in establishing in law religious beliefs about abortion or any other hot button social issue.

    For as Ken Duberstein, Reagan’s former chief of staff, admitted on a recent Meet the Press, to do that would take the issue away and inhibit fund raising. With abortion outlawed, who would carry the signs and march for the conservative cause? Who would contribute time to the party? The Republicans may not have to worry about raising cash, but they need a lot of ignorant, gullible, credulous voters.

    But if Mr. Bush’s nominees act as independent judges, as they should, and fail to outlaw abortion, why then Republicans can still carry on as though they were frustrated by those shadowy and mythical “liberal” elites in the courts.

    Without the abortion issue, the army of the faithful might turn to other concerns and away from marching together with Republicans. These faithful might even turn to issues like economic justice for themselves as middle class people as well as America’s deteriorating infrastructure at the hands of these cynical modern day robber barons.

    They might awaken to the massive growth in government under these so-called “conservatives” while government’s competence and efficiency in providing for the public interest has plummeted on their watch. We’ve all seen the new Disney flick, “Finding FEMA,” haven’t we?

    Take your Chevy to the levee, but better not park there too long — how much of the infrastructure we all take for granted is similarly made of shifting sand and not granite? That giant sucking sound you hear is called corporate greed …

    What every American needs to understand is that deciding questions like abortion or any other issue before the US Supreme Court by establishing in law one’s religious beliefs — beliefs to be imposed on everyone — is unconstitutional on its face. Thomas Jefferson could not have been more clear on this.

    The right of each and every American to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The Constitution’s framers understood very well that religious liberty can flourish only if the government leaves religion alone.

    The free exercise clause of the First Amendment guarantees the right to practice one’s religion free of government interference. But the establishment clause requires the separation of church and state, without which soon we’d have only one theocratic state.

    That is the issue that should come out during confirmation hearings for Judge Alito.

    The question I most want to hear asked: is it appropriate, or even constitutional to base Supreme Court decisions on religious beliefs?

    Fundamentally, any matter which is to be the subject of law in the United States must have as its basis a secular purpose. For any such matter to be appropriate, substantively, and pass the substantive due process test of the 14th amendment to the Constitution, there must be no scientific question as to the basic facts on which the law is to operate.

    With respect to the question of abortion I would ask what secular purpose exists for a legislature to act upon; and what scientific proof exists that definitively decides the questions regarding when life begins.

    I believe the answers to these questions make it plain that all the current opponents to abortion wish to do is enact into U.S. law their religious beliefs. Now let us look at why this hasn?t happened so far.

    Looking at the Harriet Miers mess, I think back to what Thomas Frank laid out in his book “What’s the Matter with Kansas.” Frank had it exactly right — the religious right blew up over the transparent insincerity and lack of real commitment by Mr. Bush to their cause. The power brokers in the Senate are just as insincere.

    Here’s how it works in practice: Sen. Rick Sanctimonius pushed a bill to ban partial birth abortion but left out any provision to allow the procedure if medically necessary to save the life of the mother. What? He didn’t have any lawyers to help him who would have been able to say right off that no federal district court could uphold that law absent that protection for the life of the mother? Of course he knew — he intended that his bill should go down in federal court so he could complain about so-called “liberal” judges. If he WON the issue, it goes away, and where does that leave him?

    The Terri Shiavo case was more of the same ….

    So why is this happening to us?

    Again, Tom Frank has it in his book: the terminal stupidity of the Democrats is largely to blame for all this due to their abandonment of the groups that comprised their coalition of voters through the post-WW II era. They have sold out and simply become Republican “light,” conceding the economic ground.

    The problem at the center of all this is the headlong fall into laissez faire capitalism, that which we escaped from with great pain in the post-Civil War era.

    Learning nothing from our own history, we are doomed to repeat a lot of it.

    If you read nothing else, read Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 epic speech “The New Nationalism” — there he lays out the call of the Bullmoose, a brand of early 20th century progressivism to which I would proudly subscribe — call me a Bullmoose. Without a credible alternative I’ll write in TR in ’08.

    TR said: “…our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics. That is one of our tasks today. Every special interest is entitled to justice-full, fair, and complete-… For every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation.

    “The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being. ”

    “There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done. ”

    “…Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs. ”

    “The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise.”

    ” We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.”

    ” The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. ”

    So, where was any recognition of this, questioning of this by the all-too-wealthy senators who had Big Oil’s chairmen before them last week?

    Total failure to take on the central, most fundamental issue of our times: corporate greed and special interests corrupting the heart and soul of our government and subverting the public interest for private gain.

    This leads me again, to Mencken, who said it best:

    “The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the Middle Ages.”

  7. Yes, corporate greed is the leering demagouge of our time, yes, it is dragging the democratic process down the shitter, but how does this argument address the issue of one party trying to stack the court full of a set of ideologues? I will agree that the Republicans don’t exactly want abortion and school prayer issues to go away via legislation and disseminate their fanbase, but Bush made promises to the radical right that he intends to see through. If he can start a war, he can push through a judge.
    The racial makeup of the court is a poignant issue, one that needs to be addressed. The hideous oversight not to appoint a QUALIFIED female judge or minority to assume O’Connor’s seat is ludicrous. However, in order to affect change in this arena, it may be necessary to address the racial makeup of those offices blessed with the responsibility of appointing and confirming these justices.

  8. “but how does this argument address the issue of one party trying to stack the court full of a set of ideologues?”

    Because, my dear sir, the White House is absolutely NOT trying to stack the Court with ideologues. This White House, and the previous three Administrations, have tried diligently to APPEAR to want their ideologies reflected on the Court while appointing for the most part Justices who invariably refuse to enact religion into law through their decisions. Instead of being ideologues, the “conservatives” Court appointees, (with the sole exception of Thomas — who may be said to be truly the most far out looney ever put on the Court) – have been on the whole fairly conservative lawyers who cleave rather close to the bones of commercial practice.

    Example: Judge Alito may give the appearance in his past writings while in the Executive Branch of being a dyed in the wool social conservative “proud” of opposing abortion, etc. But to those of us already here in Wash DC with three decades of gov service under our belts, we recognize this sort of thing for what it is: mere sucking up. To rise to the top in Washington you got to learn to kiss a lot of folks’ bottoms.

    What I’m trying to say to you is that the substance of the law, the “reality” of the issues you are addressing are quite beside the point in a supreme court nomination and confirmation process. The entire thing is power and the game of getting and keeping it is entirely related to what that power is all about: the power to influence and direct the truly awesome and vast amounts of money that flow thru the American economy. That power may be broken down into the parts that comprise those income streams: just look at who in the Senate and House are most powerful. The most powerful people in congress are, in order of importance, 1. the leadership, who have great influence and sometimes absolute power over scheduling and without whom you can get nothing onto the floor; 2. the appropriations chairs; and 3. the budget committee chairs.

    It is not for ought that money talks: we may talk about “rights” but what is actually at issue is whether or not private interests shall be allowed more power over the public’s interest than the government.

    To put it another, even more graphic, way: imagine a congress and a supreme court where the members all wear patches sewn to their suits and robes that identify their actual sponsors- the folks to whom they owe fealty, the ones who they report to, the ones who put them there. Instead of naming football stadia after Fed Ex, et al., we’d see the Senator from Exxon, the Congressman from Bechtel, the Vice President from Haliburton; and we’d recognize Mr. Justice Scalia from the US Chamber of Commerce, the late Chief Justice Rehnquist from Microsoft, and so on.

    In short, all this talk about abortion rights, environment, or any other issue is mere smoke and mirrors to cover up what is really going on.

    I repeat: until and unless special interests are driven from our poltical life, there will be no reality and no substance to all this. It is merely The Power Game – for a wonderfully accurate description of how this really works and did work in the 1980s during the Reagan years, see Hedrick Smith’s The Power Game. Great journalism of the sort we no longer see due to the very same phenomenon of which I complain: as Einstein predicted, we can get no real information when the means of communication, the very media on which we depend, are owned by just a few oligarchs.

    We live in a plutocracy that masquerades as something else and it is that fact which I lament.

  9. Remember also that while we think we’ve moved past Medieval Times, this President has been very competent at bringing us back into the 12th century.

    Washington DC is extremely feudal in the real way it works.

    You may think we live in a Democracy. That is an illusion.

    We live in a feudal Empire with lords, ladies, nobles and vassals and serfs.

    I know from hard experience that it isn’t what you know –you can finish that line.

    Another way to put it is this: I know I’m living under feudalism when it is only your Count that votes.

  10. By chance, a wonderful illustration of what I’m trying to get folks to see appears in today’s Washington Post, buried on page A8.

    To get a good background on the truly horrific business of influence peddling, google Jack Abramoff and read up a little. You will find a man who no one elected to public office who has had much more power than any group of voters ever did on Capitol Hill and within the Executive Branch. You will find a man who has ties and perhaps even direct involvement in the mob-style killing of a business competitor in Florida. Now see below how this fellow got what he wanted in this Administration:

    Abramoff Witness Frustrates Panel
    E-Mails Suggest She Was Lobbyist’s Connection to Interior Official

    By Susan Schmidt
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, November 18, 2005; A08

    “Unfortunately, she is critical to me.”

    That’s how former lobbyist Jack Abramoff once summed up his relationship with Italia Federici, the president of a Republican environmental group. He told colleagues that although Federici’s help was expensive, it was important. Over three years, he directed Indian tribes he represented to contribute about $500,000 to her group.

    Yesterday, Federici proved a combative witness before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. She tangled with senators demanding explanations for a stack of e-mails that suggest she exploited a personal relationship with former deputy interior secretary J. Steven Griles to secretly help Abramoff lobby the department and obtain inside information affecting Abramoff’s tribal clients.

    Federici said she had been manipulated by Abramoff. She acknowledged that the lobbyist had arranged for the tribes to donate to her group, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. Because he was a friend and donor, she said, she went along with his requests — “once every other week, once a month” — to contact Griles.

    Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the ranking Democrat, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), cast Federici as a paid conduit for Abramoff’s influence-peddling with the department.

    “It looks to me like you got paid for things that had nothing to do whatever with your organization,” Dorgan said. “It looks to me like you were working for Mr. Abramoff and you were getting paid by Indian tribes to do it.”

    Federici told the committee: “He did ask me for assistance, but it was not the body of work I did.” She said she was “responding to Jack as a friend, as I would respond to any friend who had a need or question.” Federici said she learned later about Abramoff’s lobbying practices now under investigation. “I didn’t know he was doing the things he was doing,” she said.

    “I come from a pretty small town, but I think I can spot a pretty big lie,” Dorgan told Federici. She insisted, “I am not lying to this committee.”

    Typical of the many requests Abramoff made to Federici was an e-mail dated Dec. 2, 2002, in which he sought Griles’s help in scuttling a casino plan by the Jena Band of Choctaw, a Louisiana tribe seen as competition by his clients: “It seems the Jena are on the march again. if you can, can you make sure Steve squelches this again? thanks!!”

    Asked to explain Abramoff’s request and what she did with it, Federici responded: “We work with people every day with varying levels of decorum.” It was a response that drew a puzzled scowl from McCain, who said at one point: “Your answers are so bizarre.”

    Griles testified earlier this month that he never got involved in tribal issues at Interior and said his relationship with Abramoff was no different from that with any lobbyist.

    McCain, exasperated yesterday with Federici’s “non-responsive” answers and combative demeanor, threatened to cite her for contempt. Federici accused McCain of conducting a “witch hunt” directed at her because her group had opposed one of his bills on oil drilling in Alaska.

    Federici said her group had no contact with the tribes that contributed, and did not get involved in any tribal issues. But she said she did not question Abramoff’s solicitation of tribal contributions because he was known as a philanthropist.

    Abramoff’s requests were often paired with discussions of contributions for Federici’s group. On April 3, 2003, Abramoff sent her an “urgent alert” about an Interior policy change. “Any way to see if this is something coming from the top?” he asked. Federici responded: “I will definitely see what i can find out. I hate to bug you, but is there any news about a possible contribution. . . .”

    McCain questioned whether the exchange was a quid pro quo.

    On a school funding issue affecting the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, an Abramoff client, Abramoff asked Federici to call Griles. “We’re really going to need someone from the top down to tell [acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs] Aurene Martin . . . that this money is going to the Saginaw, period.”

    “Got it,” Federici replied.

    Yesterday she told the Senate panel that she had merely meant to register receipt of the e-mail. While she always agreed to Abramoff’s requests, she said, “I attempted to reach Steve many times more than I actually did.”

    Federici’s group was co-founded by Gale A. Norton before she joined the Bush administration as interior secretary. In one e-mail, Abramoff told a colleague that Federici’s group was “our access to Norton.”

    McCain said the committee has found no evidence that Norton knew Abramoff was trading on her name. Dan DuBray, Norton’s press secretary, said she “was not aware of these activities.” He added: “Mr. Abramoff’s contact with the department — both his direct contacts and those which may have been conducted by surrogates — are being reviewed by the office of the inspector general and others.”

    Much of Abramoff’s effort against the Jena tribe involved getting members of Congress to weigh in. At least 33 lawmakers who wrote letters to Norton opposing the Jena casino received more than $830,000 in Abramoff-related donations from 2001 to 2004, according to an Associated Press tally. Many of the lawmakers sent letters within days of receiving contributions from tribes represented by Abramoff or using the lobbyist’s restaurant for fundraising, the AP found in its review of campaign records, IRS records and congressional correspondence.

    Among those who wrote letters was House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who held a fundraiser at Abramoff’s Signatures restaurant on June 3, 2003, that collected at least $21,500 for his Keep Our Majority political action committee from the lobbyist’s firm and tribal clients. A week later, Hastert wrote Norton to urge her to reject the Jena casino.

    Senate Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) sent a letter to Norton on March 5, 2002, also signed by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev). The next day, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana issued a $5,000 check to Reid’s tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund. A second Abramoff tribe also sent $5,000 to Reid’s group. Reid ultimately received more than $66,000 in Abramoff-related donations from 2001 to 2004.

    The lawmakers contacted by the AP said their intervention had nothing to do with Abramoff’s fundraising, but reflected their long-held concerns about expanding tribal gambling.

  11. Now do you see why I do not praise the Democrats while I condemn the Republicans? A plague on both their houses.

  12. okay, i can see your point in the arena of “influence peddling,” and although the patches on the sleeves do not yet present themselves in the sacred halls of congress, it becomes readily apparent for whom these men consider themselves to be working-and it ain’t for me. i can also get on board with your chomsky-esque view of the media’s ardent complicity in this whole process.
    Don’t mistake me for one of the poor decieved Rortyian “social liberals,” either. i spent four years in the marine corps infantry; i know how this goverment works from the ugly side. those of you in washington see the polished, whitewashed, we-know-its-all-bullshit-but-we’ll-smile-and-nod-anyway side of bureaucracy; those of us in the desert see the holy-shit-a-truckfull-of-my-buddie’s-guts-all-over-the-road-so-halliburton-could-rebuild-iraq side. i know how corrupt the government is, trust me, but that knowledge will never affect my belief in my rights, because rights attach to the person, regardless. i exist in america and i have rights,promised by the declaration and guranteed by the constitution. i may never possess sufficient wealth to influence the system, but i will never become so fatalistic to disassociate myself from my freedoms. the minute we accept that we are not free, we will cease to be free. if that’s a little transcendental, so be it.
    the sad truth of your statement is your assertion about a feudal state. i, too, fear that hamilton’s dream of an american aristocracy is nearly realized, albeit 229 years later than he intended. you are also right to insist that it extends to both sides of the aisle, but i don’t think i ever stopped to praise any democrats, either. the only people who place any stock in political parties are those who belong to them.

  13. So we are on the same page – for I agree absolutely with your insistence on defending individual liberty and standing up for our rights. The only reason Congress is a sink of corruption is that we the people permit it to be that way. I hope that thru this medium of the internet a movement will emerge toward the establishment of a new, Reform Party, which will dedicate itself to changing the system and reduce, if not eliminate, the lack of balance between the public interest and private, special interests. I would support such a movement, such a party — we need to rekindle the kind of progressivism that was epitomized by Theodore Roosevelt in his “New Nationalism.” The fundamental basis of all this must be fairness, not favors for cash. Recognition of the present corruption of the system is the first step toward fixing it.

Comments are closed.