A wannabe emperor in search of a crown


President Bush undoubtedly is feeling a little peckish. When his most passionately held beliefs come before the courts, he almost routinely gets his hand slapped.

After nearly six years of trying to retool the federal bench _ and getting more of his appointees confirmed than any other recent president _ he is having remarkably little success in getting some of his boldest moves declared constitutional.

Most notably, he ran into judicial roadblocks both in trying to hold detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without going through legal channels and trying to circumvent the Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of prisoners of war.

He also has been thwarted on a wide variety of issues affecting everyday life in America.

One federal judge has just ruled that the Bush administration erred in getting rid of legal protection for millions of acres of national forests by opening them up to logging and mining.

This comes just after an inspector general for the Interior Department testified before Congress that the department has flouted rules to protect taxpayers. And four government auditors charge Bush appointees with stopping the recovery of millions of dollars from oil and gas companies said to be defrauding the government.

Another federal judge has ruled that Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional. "There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution," the judge said.

Last year, federal judges around the country refused a White House demand that they intervene in the Terry Schiavo case in Florida and order a feeding tube reinserted in the comatose woman doctors had found to be brain-dead. The autopsy confirmed that diagnosis.

Federal courts also have struck down the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 proudly signed by Bush. Judges have declared the law unconstitutional because it lacks an exception to protect the health of the woman.

Bush has not sat idly by accepting what he calls the "activism" of federal judges. He has proposed steadily more conservative judges to be "activist" in favor of his pursuits. While Democrats have filibustered some of his nominees, he has succeeded in getting most of them confirmed.

And relying on his Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, he has proposed legislation to counteract the courts’ findings.

For example, the president’s response to the adverse ruling in the Guantanamo case is to propose legislation to strip federal courts of the power to hear detainees’ challenges of their treatment and indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay.

Immediately, nine retired federal judges fired off a letter accusing the administration of having as its goal circumventing a basic constitutional right _ the right of the accused to a speedy and fair trial. The judges wrote: "Depriving the courts of habeas jurisdiction will jeopardize the judiciary’s ability to ensure that executive detentions are not grounded on torture or other abuse."

Bush’s answer to being told of the illegality of his efforts to have wiretaps installed without court orders is to ask Congress to override the courts and give him that authority.

In the past six years Bush has had mixed results in cases of interest to him in the nation’s highest court, but he has lost high-profile cases, including affirmative-action cases that upheld the University of Michigan’s efforts to ensure a diversified student body.

Last year he won confirmation of two new justices to the nine-member Supreme Court. As the first Monday in October approaches when the court begins its fall term, with 31 cases already accepted for review, the White House is hoping that the new chief justice, John Roberts, and Justice Samuel Alito Jr. will swing the court decidedly to the right.

Last term, to Bush’s dismay, outgoing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the swing vote on a number of cases the administration lost.

This promises to be a lively, even momentous term. The justices have agreed to hear such significant cases as the constitutionality of the congressional ban on partial-birth abortion. Another case will decide whether the goal of diversity may justify the use of race in deciding which students go to which public schools.

Yet another case will again revisit the controversial issue of how much latitude judges have in imposing sentences, and could shake up California’s entire judicial system. And, not least, the high court for the first time will look at global warming and review whether the Environmental Protection Agency was wrong to argue that the Clean Air Act does not provide the federal government authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.

You can bet the president has his fingers crossed that his streak of ill fortune in the federal courts is ending and that when the November congressional elections are over, he will control not only the executive branch but also the legislative and judicial branches.

(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail amcfeatters(at)hotmail.com.)


  1. South Point Man

    Why has the molech worshipper not yet been arrested for treason and various other heinous charges and put in jail?

    Impeachment isn’t necessary to remove these molech worshippers from office. They can be arrested and imprisoned just like anyone else.

  2. Sandy B

    South Point Man wrote:

    “Impeachment isn’t necessary to remove these molech worshippers from office. They can be arrested and imprisoned just like anyone else.”
    Then what’s the hold-up about getting rid of these psychopathic SOBs?
    Bush clearly has a mental problem, besides thinking he’s king of this country. In the face of this fact, why is he allowed to stay in office? I don’t understand!

  3. South Point Man

    Exactly. What’s the hold up? The FBI can’t arrest them and charge them with subversion and treason against the United States which these abominations have done so copiously and blatantly? I’ll bet it does.

    Is someone worried that doing so will end one’s career? If these abominations succeed in lauching a global thermonuclear war as they seem so inclined in doing, one will obviously not have a career. Except a career of rooting through ruins trying to find a can of food to eat without getting too much of an exposure to radioactive fallout in the process, all the while keeping a nervous vigilence for cannibals who prefer their food fresh and tasty. This is assuming, of course, one survived the nuclear detonations to begin with.

    FBI, arrest them, dammit! You KNOW you already have a rather large list of charges by which they can be arrested and imprisoned.

    There just isn’t much of a career in being radioactive ashes.

  4. Sandy Price

    Bush remains Emperor for one solid reason; the people who voted for him want him as their leader.

    Remember, the religious right registered and voted in record numbers in 2000 and 2004 and they had their agenda set in cement.

    Social Issues were demanded in return for their votes. Even today, with America at war with possibly 3 nations, they are still pushing for their prohibitions on gay marriages, the end of all abortions and birth control, the end of death with dignity for Americans and bringing Christian prayers back into the schools. The new mantra of destroying Islam has been there for years hidden beneath the debates across America.

    There is nothing any of us can do about this wave of social issues taking the focus of our representatives. They were elected do this for their voters and there is no stopping them even if it means Amendments to the Constitution.

    Some day the return to the Separation of Church and State might be respected and we can get back to the Constitution for our laws. Until then, be prepared to see the White House do what they want to all of us and they do it in the name of Jesus Christ.

    This has destroyed more nations than anyone cares to admit. America is simply another nation on the list.

  5. Ted

    The President is a spoiled child and the congress is a timid parent who just watches as their child throws a tantrum (killing thousands) while the rest of the world watches the disgusting, disgraceful event proceed hoping the other parent will come to exact discipline on the brat.

    How long must we wait for the Senate Judiciary to muster the courage and integrity to take action and impeach, indict and imprison the juvenal delinquents occupying the Whitehouse???

    Continue the lying, spying and dying it will be great.
    Vote republican in 2008.

  6. Francois Marie Arouet

    America, the world is laughing at you, well at your president.

    If your democracy can elect an utter twit like GWB then there must be something wrong with your democracy or the electorate at large.

    Sadly America like most other nations has always been corrupt but your little george appears to be trying to perfect it.

    Why do you guys let him get away with it?

    Are Americans gutless or just plain stupid or both.

  7. carol

    Francois–Those are 2 very distinct possibilities, but here’s a third one–georgie boy and co has dirt on a lot of those so called gutless, stupid people, esp the pantywaists in congress and the house and senate.

    Think for a minute of the sheer depth of the NSA spying program he’s had in place. I have little doubt that he’s got dirt on John McCain, because McCain was leading the charge to have him impeached and was taking strong stands against some of georgie’s more outrageous wishes. Then suddenly he did a complete aboutface and caved. Just like a lot of others. I hate saying this, but those idiots slavishly accepted the perks, gifts, kickbacks, etc, and the Bu$h cabal used all of that and more to ensnare them with then turn around and blackmail them.

  8. Sandy Price

    Good points Carol. Corruption hit an all time high under this administration but the payola started years before. All we can do is question our candidates and try to get a commitment to stop taking money for pork programs.