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July 05, 2005


Here here, Brendan!

I think even considering Watergate a "Constitutional Crisis" is a bit of hyperbole, since Watergate was just one President, and one administration engaging in one sorry little coverup--it didn't really undermine the integrity of our governing system, only trust in the same. For me the last real "Constitutional Crisis" we had was back in 1937 or so, when Roosevelt threatened to pack the court if it didn't start rubber-stamping his legislation, thereby substantially altering the balance of power between the Judiciary and the other two branches of government. To a certain extent, this kind of executive threat to judicial independence is what Democrats seemed to be suggesting would be problematic in abandonment of filibuster procedural rules -- hence the rhetoric about undermining the Constitution -- even if they never referred back to Roosevelt's puppet court explicitly (for perhaps obvious reasons).

Anyhow, the internment during WWII could also rise to that level. Certainly the problems we had under Lincoln during the Civil War, with suspension of habeas corpus and the like, would. Some of what went on during Reconstruction too, though I don't know enough about that period to say for certain.

I think its fair to call Watergate a constitutional crisis, if only because it nearly brought in a period of ideologically homogenous single party rule. Without two competing parties of differing beliefs, the healthy competition among parties no longer exists... but you knew this already.

re Scott Ferguson's comment:

It's only a niggle, but the expression "Here here" ought to be written "Hear hear!" If I remember correctly, this exclamation is customary in the British parliament, and is accompanied by members stamping their feet on the floor. Its meaning is "Listen to him, listen!"

Even so, Scott's plaudits for Brendan's critique are well-taken. Hear hear!

The last constitutional crisis we had is still ongoing, and involves the attack on the bill of rights. Or were you guys playing to much halo to see that one? Started in, oh, about 18 something and has been going ever since. You know, Kelo, Raich, etc. The abuse of various clauses to regulate whatever they say we shouldn't have? You know? Hello? Constitutional Crisis means the Constitution, you know, that papaer? is in trouble, or CRISIS.....how does someone getting caught breaking in throw it in crisis unless that person uses their authority under the constitution to break the constitution?

I have to agree with Doc Neaves. The biggest Constitutional crises has been a handful of justices who pretty much ignore the document itself. The biggest problem with their "interpretive" approach is that we no longer have a rule of law, but rather a rule of intrepretation - and that by an unelected, unaccountable group of people. Whom it is apprantly sacriligious to question or critize. Sort of like the rulin mullahs of Iran.

And not just unaccountable, but selected strictly according to political affiliation. If Sandra Day O'Connor is a "mainstream conservative" whereas Judge Roberts is a "conservative ideologue" and hence unacceptable, we might as well be voting for judges just like we vote for representatives, since any concept of what a compromise candidate looks like has been destroyed.

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