Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sovereign Immunity

Those who had hoped that the Obama administration would restore the rule of law and renounce the imperial presidency are now faced with the opposite, the administration is expanding the imperial reach of the office into new and even more uncharted territory. Scott Horton gives a good summing up and critique of this latest outrage:
The doctrine of sovereign immunity exists in two forms—one protecting foreign sovereigns from suits in our courts on the grounds that such suits could interfere with or undermine our relations with those foreign sovereigns. The other protects the government against its citizens, based on the ancient notion that the “king can do no wrong” and therefore cannot be challenged in the courts save with his permission. This is a perfectly fine legal principle—for an absolute monarchy or a totalitarian dictatorship. Democracies, however, have different rules. First among them is the idea that the government is accountable to its citizens. Another important principle is that no right is created without a vehicle for its enforcement. But in its submission on Friday, the Obama Justice Department repudiated these two fundamental principles, instead raising high the banner of tyrannical government.
Oddly enough, this 'raising high the banner of tyrannical government' has not yet been covered by the 'paper of record' (the NYT) as best I can tell using Google and the Times' own search engine. Perhaps they're waiting until after the mid-terms?


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