Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy “Law Day”

I know, you thought it was May Day, but, as a New York Times editorial reminds us:

President Dwight Eisenhower established May 1 as Law Day to co-opt the biggest day on the socialist calendar. While much of the world marked May Day with critiques of capitalism and parades celebrating working men and women, the United States would honor, President Eisenhower declared, the “national dedication to the principle of government under laws.”

A dumb beginning, true, but as the Times points out, in the age of King George 43, “not a bad idea.” And they add this interesting fact:

Law Day proved to be a boon to international law, which was seen during the cold war as a check on communism. In his proclamation creating the holiday, Eisenhower emphasized law’s role “in the settlement of international disputes.” On Law Day 1959, Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, grandfather of the current president, urged, remarkably, that international conflicts be settled by the World Court.

Which makes it all the more ridiculous and sad that while the editorial staff was acknowledging that

. . . for six years now, the rule of law has been under attack. An array of doctrines has emerged to undermine it, like the enemy combatant doctrine, which says people can be held indefinitely without trial. . .

Times reporter Linda Greenhouse and her editors on the news pages could barely be bothered to note the latest developments in the enemy combatant saga and the continued trampling of our Constitution by the Bush Administration and its puppet-dominated Supreme Court:

In another action, the court turned, without comment, down the latest appeals by two Guantánamo detainees, Salim A. Hamdan and Omar Khadr. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter, and Stephen G. Breyer dissented, as they had earlier this month. The case was Hamdan v. Gates, No. 06-1169.

Those three sentences are the last paragraph—and the only mention of this—in a long article about Monday’s Supreme Court business that mostly concerns itself with the (also horrible) decision to find for the police in reckless car chases.

While I’m happy to see that case covered, the unfathomably short shrift that Greenhouse and the Times give this latest turn in the Hamdan case and the challenges to the US Constitution raised by the Military Commissions Act show that while some at the paper have come to praise the rule of law, the news czars still choose to bury it.

Shame—on the Supreme Court. . . and the New York Times.

(cross-posted to Daily Kos)

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