Saturday, July 1, 2006

In Case You Missed It

UNCHECKED EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY REBUKED: President Bush and Vice President Cheney have aggressively pursued the expansion of executive authority since taking office. (The decision to create special military commissions for terror suspects actually "represented one of the first steps" by Cheney to increase executive authority after 9/11.) The legal rationale for this forceful drive was undercut yesterday. Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion in Hamdan contains multiple sharply-worded warnings about the importance of constitutional checks and balances on the executive. "Trial by military commission raises separation-of-powers concerns of the highest order," Kennedy writes, arguing that it is "imperative...that when military tribunals are established, full and proper authority exists for the Presidential directive." Judicial insistence upon consultation between Congress and the Executive "does not weaken our Nation's ability to deal with danger," he states. "To the contrary, that insistence strengthens the Nation's ability to determine -- through democratic means -- how best to do so. The Constitution places its faith in those democratic means. Our Court today simply does the same."
HEALTH CARE -- NEW MEDICAID RULES A 'THREAT TO MILLIONS': Starting tomorrow, 50 million low-income Americans will need to prove their citizenship or "lose their medical benefits or long-term care." The new Medicaid rules will require recipients to provide a passport or birth certificate as proof of citizenship. But several million Americans -- including Katrina evacuees, "mentally ill, mentally retarded and homeless people, as well as elderly men and women, especially African Americans" -- may be unable to provide the necessary documents. Many African-Americans did not receive birth certificates because they were denied access to maternity wards during segregation days. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, nine percent of African-American adults lack a passport or birth certificate, compared with just 5.7 percent of adults nationwide. Another study estimates that "one-fifth of African-Americans born in the 1939-40 period [lack] a birth certificate" and  "[o]btaining required documents may be difficult and costly for low-income citizens," notes the Kaiser Family Foundation. Low-income citizens, backed by antipoverty groups, have filed a class-action suit challenging the new rules.

The Senate "agreed yesterday to schedule a vote on a package of bills that would loosen President Bush's five-year-old restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research."

In a "swipe at the media aimed primarily at The New York Times," the House voted yesterday to condemn media organizations that had disclosed the Bush administration's program tracking financial records.

President Bush has nominated Peter D. Keisler for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Keisler is currently a senior Justice Department official and defended the administration's policy of military tribunals, which was overturned yesterday by the Supreme Court.

Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke says the administration wants the "public to believe that it had not already occurred to every terrorist on the planet that his telephone was probably monitored and his international bank transfers subject to scrutiny." "How gullible does the administration take the American citizenry to be?" Clarke wonders.

"Prospects for a swift renewal of the Voting Rights Act faded on Thursday as lawmakers called for new congressional hearings." If not renewed, provision of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation will expire at the end of 2007. 

Time Magazine asks, "Is BP Really That Green?" "The question has come into stark relief following a series of environmental and safety lapses -- and, as of this week, federal charges of price-fixing -- which have muddied up the company's carefully cultivated image."

"China's Internet regulators are stepping up controls on blogs and search engines to block material it considers unlawful or immoral."

Salmon baby food: Sen. Ted Stevens's (R-AK) newest $450,000 earmark in the fiscal 2007 Agriculture spending bill. "This is a cannery cartel at our [taxpayers'] expense," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

"The Bush administration has been unable to muster even half of the 2,500 National Guardsmen it planned to have on the Mexican border by the end of June. ... Some state officials have argued that they cannot free up Guardsmen because of flooding in the East, wildfires in the West or the prospect of hurricanes in the South."

And finally: Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) is taking his colleagues back 2 skool. He has introduced a resolution that "would require every member of Congress and each person on their staff to read the Constitution at least once per year."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.