Monthly Archives: August 2007

Why I Doubt I’ll Be Able to Attend the Debate In Person

The Dean of Students office is a ticket distribution center for the Univision Democratic Forum to take place on Sunday evening, September 9. As many of you are aware, this will be an exciting opportunity to see the Democratic Candidates here at the BankUnited Center located on the Coral Gables Campus.

In accordance with the University of Miami set forth below, our office will distribute tickets to UM Students only on Wednesday, August 29 and Thursday, August 30 from 9:00am through 4:00pm. Each student is entitled to one ticket and must present a Cane Card.

On Friday morning, August 31, remaining tickets will begin to be distributed to UM faculty and staff at 9:00am.

I doubt there will be tickets left on Friday, but in any case I teach 8-9:30 am, so I won't get one.

I wonder if I should ask for a press pass?

Posted in U.Miami | 1 Comment

IF

If I had a TV, I might have a satellite dish (or cable, I have no idea which is worse).

If I had a satellite dish, I'd definitely want to use the Satellite Alignment Calculator 2.0 to aim it.

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 6 Comments

Beats Me

I've given up trying to understand what all this means (especially as with RSS taking on more and more of the readership, hit counts become increasingly artificial).

But on this list, Most Popular Blawgs of All Time – Justia Blawg Search, I'm #143. While on one of these two lists, I'm chopped liver and on the other #18.

Spotted via Feminists Law Professors, How Big Is It?, where they care about this sort of stuff…

Posted in Discourse.net | 2 Comments

US Government Continues to Blacken Our Names

I'm running out of energy to keep on posting about the judicial horrors perpetrated by this administration. Fortunately, there are others made of sterner stuff.

Have a look at Crooks and Liars, Justice, Guantanamo Style. Sickening stuff.

Posted in Guantanamo | Leave a comment

The Constitution and Acting

Someone asks,

Suppose Bush were to decide that a confirmation fight (or even just a hearing) over Gonzales's successor would be too painful, and a recess appointment too controversial. Does he have to nominate anyone? Or can he go through the rest of his Administration with Solicitor General Clement as an interim AG? Are there any powers that a confirmed Attorney General has that an interim Attorney General doesn't? Are there any steps that the Senate or anyone else can take in the event of that eventuality?

As far as I know, an acting Attorney General has all the powers of a confirmed Attorney General; the difference is political, not legal.

Although there is no way that Congress can force the President to exercise his appointment power, I suppose it would be possible for Congress to condition the exercise certain powers of the Attorney General on there being a confirmed holder of the office. I don't think it would be good policy — in fact I think it would be very bad policy to leave the country unable to do things that need doing — but offhand I can't see a constitutional obstacle to such a statute.

There is also a very weird Constitutional argument that might be brought into play but I think it would —- and should — fail. But here it is anyway:

The Solicitor General is appointed by the President by and with the consent of the Senate, as is the Attorney General. But under Article II, Section 2, paragraph two of the Constitution, there are (at least) two kinds of major Presidential appointees: “Officers of the United States” and “Inferior Officers”. The full “Officers” require Senate confirmation; Congress can waive the confirmation requirement for the “inferior” kind. If Senate confirmation has been waived, then only the President, or courts, or “Heads of Department” (usually understood to mean Officers) can appoint “inferior officers”. Let's assume that the Attorney General appoints an “inferior officer” who then makes a decision altering the rights, duties, or responsibilities of someone willing to sue (thus solving the standing issue).

The aggrieved person could argue that the Solicitor General is only a mere “inferior officer” himself — one for whom, as it happened, Congress had not waived the confirmation requirement, but for whom it could if it so chose. If this were correct, any “inferior officer” appointed by the acting Attorney General (himself an inferior officer) held that office illegally and his decisions are null and void.

But is this a good argument? I'm somewhat dubious.

First, one would have to argue that even if the Solicitor General were an inferior officer ordinarily, his being the acting Head of Department didn't give him the necessary appointing power for constitutional purposes by virtue of his acting status. This part of the argument takes us to unchartered waters. Some formalists would argue that a department head is a department head. Other formalists would argue that status comes at the time of appointment. A structuralist would worry that if the President could place non-officers into officer positions in this manner it would undermine the separation of powers. Traditionalists might say that we've often let acting officials run things, and we should be mindful of the need to have a working government would likely carry the day. Being a structuralist at heart, I think the argument here isn't bad — but it all depends on the Solicitor General being “inferior” in the first place.

And this second part of the argument seems much more doubtful. One would also have to convince a court that the Solicitor General wasn't an “officer of the United States” in his own right. That's far from obvious.

There is no bright line between the two types of appointees. We do know that Cabinet officers like the Attorney General are unquestionably “Officers” and that the Special Prosecutor under the now-lapsed statute authorizing them was — barely — an “inferior officer”.

The argument that the Solicitor General is only “inferior,” relies on the facts that he reports to the AG, and is actually the number four official in the DoJ pecking order. No court has ever held that reporting to someone rather than directly to the President is a necessary element of “officerness” but then again no court has ever held otherwise, so the argument remains open. Plus, since the Attorney General is only #4, calling him an “officer” would suggest very strongly that there are four “officers” in the DoJ, and several in every other cabinet department as well; that sounds like a lot.

But given the long history and tradition of the office of Solicitor General, I don't think most courts would find it very difficult to say that the Solicitor General was an “officer”. The Solicitor General has important powers and responsibilities over litigation, including the power to “confess judgment” — throw in the towel on appeal before the Supreme Court for a case the government won below. The office of Solicitor General dates back to 1870, and has a long and generally admirable tradition of independence, so much so that the Solicitor General is sometimes called the “tenth Justice”. I think the Solicitor General is probably an “officer” in his own right, and regardless of what I think, I'm pretty sure most courts and Justices would see it that way.

In short, no, I think there's no legal reason the Solicitor General can't be acting Attorney General for a long, long time. Even so, I predict that the he won't be.

Posted in Law: Constitutional Law | 3 Comments

Gonzales Resigns — At Last

When the rumors flew yesterday that disgraced and AG Alberto Gonzales would resign and be replaced by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, I didn't pay much attention. Looked like the memory-impaired Bush loyalist was bunkered in.

But it seems that it's true: Gonzales Resigns as Attorney General – New York Times.

Chertoff you may recall is a former federal judge (and was considered a pretty good one), which argues well for the DoJ job. On the other hand, he's done a lousy job at Homeland Security, and presided over the disaster in New Orleans and the even more disastrous ongoing failures since the floods. Both of which argue that his management talents may not be equal to his legal skills.

But he's loyal.

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze | 2 Comments

How the Bush Administration REALLY Treats Soldiers

Below I quote a very disturbing story from the Army of Dude blog by Alex Horton, a 22 year old from Frisco, Texas.

Last week I heard a story of official blackmail similar to this one from a friend who is a reserve officer regarding the treatment of some career officers he knows — so this blackmail isn't limited to the enlisted ranks.

Army of Dude: Happy Dependence Day!: Four years of war and this Army is a skeleton of its former self. Equipment is broken or obsolete, thousands are dead and wounded and many of us can’t wait to get off the Hindenburg. For awhile, deployments were kept to a year, with at least twelve months back home to recuperate, to get new equipment, to bury the dead. To keep the surge going, deployments have been extended to fifteen months to keep the year at home from shrinking down to nine or less months. The number of people getting out was devastating, so the Army needed a new plan to keep people in. New slogan and advertising campaign? Check. Stop loss program? Check. Bigger bonuses? Check. Guaranteeing non-deployable positions at training posts and recruiting stations, acknowledging people are scared stiff to go to Iraq? Check. Still the numbers are low. After watching too many 80s gang movies, someone thought of such a simple, foolproof idea: good ol’ fashioned blackmail.

Before we left Baghdad, the re-enlistment briefs got a little more disturbing. Instead of letting you know what a bum you’ll become if you leave the Army after your enlistment, they put it in simple terms: if you don’t re-enlist, you’ll be thrown in 5th Brigade, the Stryker unit on Ft. Lewis that was being stood up, and yes, they were deploying as soon as they could. So you might as well stay where your friends are and come back to Iraq with them. Otherwise, you’ll be taking your chances by getting your ass stop-lossed and sent to Iraq in as little as six months to a year after you returned. Better off with the sure thing. Here’s a pen, junior. If you got out after July 2008, you were screwed. I, on the other hand, was in the clear since I was getting out at the end of 2007. The options were re-enlist, extend to meet the unit’s needs, or take no action. I checked take no action, which meant my name would be added to the pool of possible candidates for 5th Brigade. No matter. It was of no consequence if I separated from the Army in 3rd or 5th Brigade. A lot of us were in that boat. Still, it spooked us that someone could come to us with a list and a smile and say in so many words that we were fucked into another deployment unless we added years to our contracts. In short, the thanks we got for serving our country was being forced into a game of Russian Roulette. Take the risk, pull the trigger. See what happens.

I suggest you tell this story the next time anyone dares suggest that anything short of calling for withdrawal amounts to “supporting the troops.”

Posted in Iraq | 4 Comments