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O'Connor warns of attacks on constitutional freedom

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann provides remarkable quotes from an underreported speech by Sandra Day O'Connor, who was nominated to the Supreme Court Justice by President Reagan and retired recently:
It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. [...] Attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms.  I am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning.  We must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies.
Those last remarks appear to refer specifically to the former House minority leader, Tom DeLay, Olbermann opines:
O‘Connor did not mention his name, but quoted his attacks on judges at meetings last year of Justice Sunday, the conservative Christian group to which DeLay vented after the Terri Schiavo rulings.
While the blogging world reacted swiftly to the remark, "why didn't the U.S. press react more strongly to her comments?", asks Slate, an online journal of the Washington Post/Newsweek group.  Slate then goes on not only to answer this question but also to give some background information as well as former expressions of concern about judicial independence by the former judge famous for swing votes at the Supreme Court.
Criticism of O'Connor from Blogs for Terri, Conservative Outpost and Brad DeLong.
In support: BrandNewBag and Shining Light.

Update: AP reports about alleged death threats against O'Connor and Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg and Ann Coulter's "joke" about poising Justice Stevens. Hat tip: Moderate Voice.

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Gregory Kelly on :

The actual argument is that the court while O.connor was on it shifted from US Constitutional Law to to the premise of EU and World Opinion shaping our court decisions. It is a clash of ideologies and the winner will determine the relevance of the US Constitution in future rulings. With that said, currently in the US we have the three branches fighting for control and all three branches are guilty as we lost the checks and balances laid out for us in the Constitution and far too often the specter of 9/11 is the excuse. With the battle royal raging in Washington it will come down to democracy vs. dictatorship. Bear in mind that I am a conservative and what is happening in Washington scares even me.

Jorg on :

Thanks for yor comment, Gregory. What do you mean by "the premise of EU and World Opinion shaping our court decisions"? Are you really concerned about such a battle royal? I strongly believe in US democracy.

Gregory Kelly on :

Jorg, Conservative Outpost states: "liberal, activist judiciary" and that is relative to EU and World Opinion shaping court decisions with disregard for the US Constitution. Yes I am concerned that we have the judicial, executive and legislative branches competing for power grabs and relevance. I strongly believe in US Democracy as well (Sgt. 82nd Airborne Division: Granada/2nd Infantry Division:Korea and Congressional Assistant)and I VOTE; However it is fragile. The road to dictatorship is a slippery one that few recover from and lets hope that we do not go there. As we have seen before in history a frightend and/or insecure population will indeed support dictatorships. There is a psychological study about this, I hope to find it and pass it on to you.

Harry on :

The return of Joe McCarthy As outlined in the news stories of today, the NSA compilation of the telephone calling patterns of hundreds of thousands of citizens of the United States appears to be so complicated that one is led to feel that it is "no big deal", as the Bush administration would have us believe. However, it is apparent to those of us with long memories that the threat is not in the act itself but in its implications. To the younger generation, the phrase "guilt by association" means little but there was a time when it was deadly serious and the ruin of many a life and career. One would need to read and study the reign of terror which was presided over by Senator Joseph McCarthy during the beginning of the Cold War where everyone was as afraid of "the Communists" as they are today of Al Qaida and friends. The House Un-American Activities Committee, (HUAC), chaired by Senator McCarthy held hearings in order to "root out" Communists in all levels of American society. To even have one's name mentioned in these hearings was to suffer "black-balling" by movie studios, publishers, corporations, and any other endeavor by which people were able to make a living. The most involved, according to Joe McCarthy and Friends, were jailed or even deported for their "disloyalty" to the American Way. Some of America=s greatest writers and most accomplished thespians had careers and reputations ruined by having merely been associated on a social level by the taint of suspicion by this powerful and powerfully tyrannical committee. The hearings themselves, which were carried on the radio as well as on the burgeoning television channels in order to serve as an example to discourage any budding "Communists" who were listening, were openly and arrogantly engaged in guilt by association. They were, in reality, a public morality play which inevitably led to an equally public "lynching". The questioning would go something like this: "Mary Pitt, you have sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. You are aware of that?" "I have and I am." "With those facts in mind, do you know a man named Rob Kall? Now, before you answer, you should know that we are aware that you have written articles and other comments which have been displayed on his web site, Op Ed News, to be read by any who care to read them?" "I cannot profess to have known Mr. Kall, since I have never actually met him. I have, however, submitted written pieces to his site for publication." "Then you admit to having openly associated with Mr Kall, knowing his attitude of animosity toward the duly-elected government of the United States? You are admitting that your political opinions are compatible with his? How about the rest of the flaming leftists whose writings appear on those pages?" I will spare you the bloody end to this interrogation, which will surely put an end to my (unborn) writing career, and the collection of suspect telephone calls which may have been charted by the NSA and would prove that I have called, or been called by, all sorts of colorful but suspicious characters over the years, especially all those wrong numbers! Its purpose is simply to provide a warning in order to stifle any urge to remove the government of the time and to restore democracy to our land, to let us know that they can "make the connections" between communicating citizens, to find out who talks to whom and, in the event that suspicion falls upon any one of us, to tie in the rest in a new orgy of "guilt by association". These violations of our right to privacy and our freedom from "unwarranted search and siezure" of our personal records has absolutely nothing to do with any potential danger from Al Qaida or any other foreign threats. They are merely meant to remind us that "Big Brother is watching" and we must "watch what we say and watch what we do" because if we're not with them, we're against them. They are not afraid of terrorists. They fear only that the American people will wake up and challenge their campaigns of disinformation and expose them for what they really are....liars, cheats, and cowards. Joe McCarthy rides again!

joe on :

Harry, Do you every think or do any analysis?

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