Monday, July 20, 2009


Frank Rich is correct, of course, about the sneering, patroning hypocrisy undergirding the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Jeff Sessions and Tom Coburn are two of the biggest bozos in a chamber chock-full of them; the rest of the Republicans are either closet cases or sanctimonious moralizers who can't avoid getting caught, knuckle-dragging troglodytes all. No mystery there.

But the vanilla kabuki of the hearings does no favors to their Democratic counterparts -- Chuck Schumer turning on the waterworks like he just finished a case of bon-bons watching Steel Magnolias with the rest of the local Oprah Book Club chapter; Dianne Feinstein conferring a super-special "A-plus-plus" grade on Sotomayor, perhaps with a gold star and a smiley face.

But nothing is revealed, aside from the tendency of senators to enjoy their own tedious jabber. Roe v. Wade is still apparently the apex of American jurisprudence; no mention of, say, Kelo's curious interpretation of eminent-domain laws, or even what Sotomayor's opinion on the previous administration's enthusiastic usurpation of previously clear rights and mores. You can't just wiretap any citizen you want to without any oversight; you can't just yank people off the street and throw them in an island dungeon without charge or representation; you can't use interrogation techniques on prisoners for which we have executed soldiers of other countries for using in wartime.

Or can you? Well, it's not like Schumer or Feinstein will ever bring it up, not to mention Coburn and the rest of his claque. And Obama has shown no inclination to push the issue, opting instead for a convenient combination of sweeping things under the rug while double-checking them for future viability. Si se puede, indeed.


MikeB said...

What a discussion that COULD be if the hearing would open the topic of eminent domain.

Yes, Kelo was the tipping point on grassroots rising to protect property rights. Coalitions are now active in communities across the country -- but it is still an uphill battle.

Speaking as someone who has fought seizure of property rights for two years with Houston-based Spectra Energy, backed by the power of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), I can confirm that property owners do not stand on a level playing field legally when it comes to eminent domain.

This is a process that amounts to legal plunder under the badge of government.

Ultimately, power corrupts; and the power of eminent domain in the hands of government — which is transferred to a business — creates a sense of entitlement; and it creates an atmosphere ripe for abuse.

Nowadays, eminent domain has less to do with projects for the “public good,” and everything to do with the financial good of publicly held companies.

Our group of property owners are happy to share what we've learned with folks fighting similar battles for property rights. For more information, start with our website:

Grace Nearing said...

SCOTUS nominees have it easy. The questions asked are either hypothetical questions, which the nominee declines to answer because they're usually asked by goofy non-lawyers; questions about settled law, which the nominee half-shrugs off, declining to raise any doubts about the legitmacy and infallability of "recent" (ie, post-Dred Scott) SCOTUS decisions; or questions about pending cases or issues, which the nominee declines to answer because it would be an inappropriate, not to mention insane, thing to do so.