Separation Powers / Checks and Balances
Articles and Resources
Date Fairness.com Resource Read it at: May 06, 2014 Hungary and the End of Politics How Victor Orbán launched a constitutional coup and created a one-party state.
QUOTE: What is clear is that with his re-election, Orbán has consolidated a well-orchestrated constitutional coup that has rattled the European Union’s complacency about being a club of well-behaved democracies. Since 2010, Fidesz has rewritten the Constitution without engaging any opposition parties and has granted overwhelming and unchecked power to its party leader, who in turn wasted little time in wresting control of every state institution from opposition hands, entrenching his political allies everywhere, bringing the judiciary to heel and radically centralizing political authority. The Fidesz constitutional “reform” has spawned a Frankenstate, a form of government created by stitching together perfectly normal rules from the laws of various EU members into a monstrous new whole.
Nation Dec 26, 2013 Prosecutor Overseeing Turkish Graft Inquiry Is Removed From Case
QUOTE: The corruption allegations are centered on claims of bribery involving vast real estate projects, many of them in Istanbul, that have become a hallmark of Mr. Erdogan’s time in power. No one has been convicted, but several people, including two sons of government ministers, have been arrested, and one of the departing ministers on Wednesday said that the prime minister himself had been involved in the real estate deals facing scrutiny.
New York Times Oct 05, 2013 No way to run a country: The Land of the Free is starting to look ungovernable. Enough is enough
QUOTE: ...Republicans are setting a precedent which, if followed, would make America ungovernable. Voters have seen fit to give their party control of one arm of government—the House of Representatives—while handing the Democrats the White House and the Senate. If a party with such a modest electoral mandate threatens to shut down government unless the other side repeals a law it does not like, apparently settled legislation will always be vulnerable to repeal by the minority. Washington will be permanently paralysed and America condemned to chronic uncertainty.
Economist Oct 05, 2013 A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning
QUOTE: interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.
New York Times Jul 02, 2013 America's founders would be horrified at this United States of Surveillance: How did we become so fearful and timid that we've given away essential liberties? Some are even afraid to speak up
QUOTE: No one with common sense believes Obama is planning to become a dictator. But...Obama, building on the initiatives of his immediate predecessors, has helped create the foundation for a future police state. This has happened with bipartisan support from patriotic but short-sighted members of Congress and, sad to say, the general public. The American media have played an essential role. For decades, newspaper editors and television programmers, especially local ones, have chased readers and ratings by spewing panic-inducing "journalism" and entertainment that helped foster support for anti-liberty policies.
Guardian Unlimited Jun 25, 2013 Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act
QUOTE: The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval. The court divided along ideological lines, and the two sides drew sharply different lessons from the history of the civil rights movement and the nation’s progress in rooting out racial discrimination in voting. At the core of the disagreement was whether racial minorities continued to face barriers to voting in states with a history of discrimination.
New York Times Jun 25, 2013 NSA fact sheet on surveillance program pulled from Web after senators’ criticism
QUOTE: National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander acknowledged Tuesday that a fact sheet on the agency’s Web site inaccurately described the extent to which the communications of U.S. citizens are protected from the spy agency’s collection of e-mail and other material from technology companies.
Washington Post Jan 25, 2013 Court Rejects Obama Move to Fill Posts
QUOTE: In a ruling that called into question nearly two centuries of presidential “recess” appointments that bypass the Senate confirmation process, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday that President Obama violated the Constitution when he installed three officials on the National Labor Relations Board a year ago.
New York Times Dec 01, 2012 Islamist to rally in support of Egypt's president
QUOTE: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was expected to be given the country's new constitution Saturday, a day after its approval by an Islamist-dominated assembly....Morsy sparked days of protests last week after he issued an order banning courts from overturning any decisions he has made since taking office.
CNN (Cable News Network) Nov 23, 2012 Clashes Break Out After Morsi Seizes New Power in Egypt
QUOTE: Protests erupted across Egypt on Friday, as opponents of President Mohamed Morsi clashed with his supporters over a presidential edict that gave him unchecked authority and polarized an already divided nation while raising a specter, the president’s critics charged, of a return to autocracy.
New York Times Nov 11, 2012 Officials Say F.B.I. Knew of Petraeus Affair in the Summer
QUOTE: The new accounts of the events that led to Mr. Petraeus’s sudden resignation on Friday shed light on the competing pressures facing F.B.I. agents who recognized the high stakes of any investigation involving the C.I.A. director but who were wary of exposing a private affair with no criminal or security implications.
New York Times Mar 11, 2012 Cry, the Beloved Constitution (Op-Ed)
QUOTE: Both liberals and conservatives have the American Constitution in the cross hairs. They assault the Constitution in their different ways, each with damaging effects on our nation. Conservatives attack the courts on one hand and seek to have them advance their activist agenda on the other. Liberals, when it suits them, embrace rights that have not been enumerated in the Constitution and cry for restraint only when their pet bills come under fire. The result is a national jurisprudence whetted by political appetite, with our democratic values as the victims.
International Herald Tribune (IHT) Jan 11, 2012 Mississippi judge blocks release of pardoned prisoners
QUOTE: A Mississippi judge Wednesday evening issued a temporary injunction forbidding the release of any more prisoners pardoned or given clemency by outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour, whose actions created an uproar.
CNN (Cable News Network) Jan 02, 2012 The Rules on News Coverage Are Clear, but the Police Keep Pushing
QUOTE: But the decade-long trajectory in New York is toward expanded police power. Officers routinely infiltrate groups engaged in lawful dissent, spy on churches and mosques, and often toss demonstrators and reporters around with impunity. When this is challenged, the police commissioner and the mayor often shrug it off and fight court orders.
New York Times Dec 21, 2011 Foes of Hungary’s Government Fear ‘Demolition of Democracy’
QUOTE: Democracy here is dying not with a single giant blow but with many small cuts, critics say, through the legal processes of Parliament that add up to a slow-motion coup. And in its drift toward authoritarian government, aided by popular disaffection with political gridlock and a public focused mainly on economic hardship, Hungary stands as a potentially troubling bellwether for other, struggling Eastern European countries with weak traditions of democratic government.
New York Times Dec 19, 2011 Among Legal Ranks, Shrugs for Gingrich’s Tough Talk
QUOTE: Many of Mr. Gingrich’s proposals would replace the judicial independence generally thought to be a defining feature of the federal system with aspects of the political accountability associated with state judicial elections.
New York Times Nov 29, 2011 How to Free Congress’s Mind (Op-Ed)
QUOTE: Institutional reforms themselves require a change in the mind-sets of our political leaders, and they will not happen without compromise. Either legislators adopt a compromising attitude, in which case the reforms are not essential, or they do not adopt it, in which case they will not be able to agree on the reforms. There is no deus ex machina that will save Congress from itself.
New York Times Jul 25, 2011 Question of Birth Becomes One of President’s Power
QUOTE: In 2002, [Congress] directed the State Department to “record the place of birth as Israel” in passports of American children born in Jerusalem if their parents ask. President George W. Bush signed that bill...But Mr. Bush also said he would not obey it.
New York Times Jul 24, 2011 The 14th Amendment, the Debt Ceiling and a Way Out
QUOTE: former President Bill Clinton identified a constitutional escape hatch should President Obama and Congress fail to come to terms on a deficit reduction plan before the government hits its borrowing ceiling. He pointed to an obscure provision in the 14th Amendment...
New York Times Jun 26, 2011 ‘Pilot’ Label Lets Mayor’s Projects Skip City Review
QUOTE: Dozens of [New York City Mayor Bloomberg's] marquee administration projects...ostensible experiments that are often exempt from the usual forms of city review...Admirers see an innovative way around red tape. Critics see a blunt tool that undermines democracy by minimizing the public’s role in scrutinizing the ideas of government.
New York Times Jun 24, 2011 House Spurns Obama on Libya, but Does Not Cut Funds
QUOTE: The House dealt a symbolic blow to President Obama on Friday by resoundingly rejecting a bill to authorize United States military operations in Libya. But the chamber also defeated a measure that would have limited financing to support those efforts.
New York Times Jun 21, 2011 Oversight Group Did Not Refer Housing Complaints
QUOTE: The federal agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-owned mortgage finance giants, failed to refer to criminal investigators and other authorities almost 100 complaints about possible foreclosure abuse and mortgage fraud at the companies over a recent two-year period, according to a report issued late Tuesday by the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
New York Times Jun 16, 2011 Who Is James Johnson?
QUOTE: Morgenson and Rosner write with barely suppressed rage, as if great crimes are being committed. But there are no crimes. This is how Washington works. Only two of the characters in this tale come off as egregiously immoral. Johnson made $100 million while supposedly helping the poor.
New York Times Jun 08, 2011 Judges Weigh Limits of Health Law’s Powers
QUOTE: The law, the Affordable Care Act, enacted in March 2010, aims to insure 32 million Americans by mandating that most people obtain health insurance, subsidizing policies for the poor and requiring that insurers accept even those with pre-existing health problems....Among 31 separate legal challenges to the law, five cases have yielded decisions on the merits from lower-level district court judges.
New York Times May 25, 2011 How Can Congress Debate a Secret Law?
QUOTE: Legal scholars, law professors, advocacy groups, and the Congressional Research Service have all written interpretations of the Patriot Act and Americans can read any of these interpretations and decide whether they support or agree with them. But by far the most important interpretation of what the law means is the official interpretation used by the U.S. government and this interpretation is - stunningly -classified.
Huffington Post May 20, 2011 Is Obama about to break the law?
QUOTE: At issue: The 1973 War Powers Act, which says if the president does not get congressional authorization 60 days after military action, the mission must stop within 30 days....Administration officials don't yet feel compelled to seek such permission...
CNN (Cable News Network) Feb 01, 2011 States Diverge on How to Deal With Health Care Ruling
QUOTE: in a few states that are party to the litigation, Republican governors and attorneys general declared the expansive health care law effectively null as a result of the judge’s ruling. They suggested they would suspend planning and implementation until appeals courts could rule...
New York Times Dec 27, 2010 Former Russian Tycoon Is Again Convicted
QUOTE: Seven years ago, Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, Russia’s richest man, was jailed after challenging the authority of Vladimir V. Putin, who wanted the country’s post-Soviet tycoons to stop meddling in politics. On Monday, Mr. Khodorkovsky, still behind bars, was convicted on new charges of embezzlement in a case that has been widely viewed as an indicator of whether Russia will take even modest steps toward establishing a real rule of law.
New York Times Dec 13, 2010 Judge Voids Key Element of Obama Health Care Law
QUOTE: The judge, Henry E. Hudson of Federal District Court in Richmond, said the law’s requirement that most Americans obtain insurance exceeded the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause... “Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market.”
New York Times Dec 08, 2010 LAWA Land: The Supreme Court hears about Arizona's other controversial immigration law.
QUOTE: The Supreme Court busies itself today with that law's Mini-Me, the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act, which goes much further than federal immigration law in sanctioning state employers who hire illegal workers. Both today's case and the one the court will inevitably hear about SB 1070 test the same general proposition: Does federal immigration law pre-empt—or preclude—the states from passing their own, tougher immigration laws?
Slate May 17, 2010 Extended Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders Is Upheld
QUOTE: In a broad endorsement of federal power, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Congress has the authority under the Constitution to allow the continued civil commitment of sex offenders after they have completed their criminal sentences. The 7-to-2 decision touched off a heated debate among the justices on a question that has lately engaged the Tea Party movement and opponents of the new health care law: What limits does the Constitution impose on Congress’s power to legislate on matters not specifically delegated to it in Article I?
New York Times May 13, 2010 U.N. head Ban Ki-Moon refusing orders from internal personnel court
QUOTE: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has refused to comply with numerous orders from a new U.N. personnel tribunal to hand over confidential documents and other sensitive information needed to resolve legal claims by U.N. employees of unfair treatment...
Washington Post May 13, 2010 U.S. Decision to Approve Killing of Cleric Causes Unease
QUOTE: The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against terrorism. The notion that the government can, in effect, execute one of its own citizens far from a combat zone, with no judicial process and based on secret intelligence, makes some legal authorities deeply uneasy.
New York Times Mar 04, 2010 Somali official's immunity case raises legal, policy issues
QUOTE: The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) protects foreign states and their "agencies and instrumentalities" from lawsuits, with a few limited exceptions. But the Torture Victim Protection Act authorizes lawsuits, and was passed specifically to ensure that those "who avail themselves of the protections and privileges of residency in the United States also bear responsibility for their actions, especially actions as significant as torture," according to a brief filed by its congressional sponsors.
Washington Post Nov 19, 2009 Democracy under threat: Congo's constitution
QUOTE: In the past three years the 38-year-old president [of Congo, Joseph Kabila] has shown increasingly little interest in living up to the democratic promise that impressed the West when he won at the polls in 2006.
Economist May 24, 2009 New Justice Could Hold the Key to Presidential Power
QUOTE: “We’re losing one of the court’s strongest leaders on the side of limiting executive power to reasonable bounds. If the person who replaces Souter is different than him, the balance of power may shift.”
New York Times Jan 08, 2009 Panel Recommends Impeaching Blagojevich
QUOTE: An investigative committee of the Illinois House voted unanimously Thursday to recommend the impeachment of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich....“The governor believes that the proceedings were flawed, biased and did not follow the rules of law,”
New York Times Jan 03, 2009 Senate GOP prepared to fight if Dems try to seat Franken
QUOTE: Minnesota's other senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune this week that if the state Canvassing Board -- which is tasked with tallying votes -- certifies a winner, the Senate should "consider seating that person pending litigation." Klobuchar's statement prompted Cornyn, a Republican from Texas and the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to threaten a filibuster to block Democrats from seating Franken before an official certificate is signed by Ritchie and Pawlenty.
CNN (Cable News Network) Dec 12, 2008 Obama to Hear Panel on Changes to War Powers Act
QUOTE: Mr. Obama met Thursday with the leaders of a commission that has proposed revamping the legal process for launching military action, to require more consultation between a president and Congress. The proposal would scrap the problematic War Powers Act of 1973, a measure passed in the hangover from Vietnam to give Congress more say in committing troops to the battlefield but largely honored in the breach ever since...
New York Times Dec 11, 2008 Illinois governor faces ultimatum
QUOTE: The attorney-general of Illinois has told under-fire state Governor Rod Blagojevich to quit or she will take legal action against him.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Nov 13, 2008 Bush, Out of Office, Could Oppose Inquiries
QUOTE: a precedent suggesting that former presidents wield lingering powers to keep matters from their administration secret. Now, as Congressional Democrats prepare to move forward with investigations of the Bush administration, they wonder whether that claim may be invoked again.
New York Times Nov 10, 2008 A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks: With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policy
QUOTE: ...Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion. The sweeping change to two decades of tax policy escaped the notice of lawmakers for several days, as they remained consumed with the controversial bailout bill.
Washington Post Oct 29, 2008 Most Presidents Ignore the Constitution: The government we have today is something the Founders could never have imagined.
QUOTE: It is clear that the Framers wrote a Constitution as a result of which contracts would be enforced, risk would be real, choices would be free and have consequences, and private property would be sacrosanct. The $700 billion bailout of large banks that Congress recently enacted runs afoul of virtually all these constitutional principles.
Wall Street Journal, The (WSJ) Jul 28, 2008 EPA e-mail to workers: Don't answer inspector's questions
QUOTE: The Environmental Protection Agency advised employees last month not to answer questions from journalists, the Government Accountability Office or the agency's inspector general, according to an EPA e-mail made public Monday..."The order reinforces a growing bunker mentality within an EPA that is the subject of a growing number of probes into political interference with agency operations,"
CNN (Cable News Network) Jul 11, 2008 Setback for White House on Visitor Logs
QUOTE: The Bush administration was dealt a setback on Friday in its efforts to keep records of White House visitors under wraps when an appeals court refused to throw out a lawsuit seeking access to the material. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that it would be premature to consider reversal of a lower court ruling last December that the White House visitor logs were public records, and that the administration should stop withholding them from scrutiny by outside groups.
New York Times Jun 25, 2008 You're On Candid Camera: The Bush administration now wants to watch you from the sky. (Terror Watch)
QUOTE: expanding domestic use of picture-taking spy satellites...[Secretary Michael Chertoff] promised strict procedures to protect the rights of Americans, including obtaining court authorization for law enforcement-related surveillance operations where appropriate. Despite Chertoff's assurances, however, Harman said that Congress probably would not fully approve the program until the administration is more explicit about how it would operate.
Newsweek May 06, 2008 In One Flaw, Questions on Validity of 46 Judges (Sidebar)
QUOTE: The problem Professor Duffy identified at least arguably invalidates every decision of the patent court decided by a three-judge panel that included at least one judge appointed after March 2000.
New York Times Apr 02, 2008 Memo: Laws Didn't Apply to Interrogators: Justice Dept. Official in 2003 Said President's Wartime Authority Trumped Many Statutes
QUOTE: "If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network," [John C.] Yoo wrote. "In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions."
Washington Post Mar 05, 2008 FBI Chief Confirms Misuse of Subpoenas: Security Letters Used to Get Personal Data
QUOTE: Inspector General Glenn A. Fine reported a year ago that the FBI used such letters ...to improperly obtain telephone logs, banking records and other personal records of thousands of Americans from 2003 to 2005. An internal FBI audit also found that the bureau potentially violated laws or agency rules more than 1,000 times in such cases.
Washington Post Feb 23, 2008 Justice Probes Authors Of Waterboarding Memos
QUOTE: An internal watchdog office at the Justice Department is investigating whether Bush administration lawyers violated professional standards by issuing legal opinions that authorized the CIA to use waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques...
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