While the outside threats to judicial independence are serious and metastasizing, the unfortunate -- and for many, uncomfortable -- fact is that the de-legitimizing of America's courts is at least partly an inside job.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether the Constitution protects the right of Guantanamo detainees to file writs of habeas corpus in federal court. President Bush says no - because judges should not question decisions about whom the United States chooses to detain in the "war on terrorism." But the history of Guantanamo itself provides the most compelling reason for rejecting such unbridled claims of executive power.
The others at the table looked at me as if I was a fool. I had to explain I was from New York -- where hearings and votes are basically held at the discretion of a Committee Chair (and her chamber's leader). Of course, I already knew New York did things differently.
The commission tasked with reforming New York's hodge-podge sentencing procedures included restoring voting rights to parolees among their recommendations. It’s about time. A quick peek into the history of the state’s felony disenfranchisement law reveals ugly origins.