Cheney’s law

I just finished a fascinating look by Frontline on Cheney’s role resting as much power for the Executive Branch as possible over the past seven years. What really surprised me were the conservatives, many at the Justice Department, that stood up and fought back on the aggressive views coming from the Vice President’s office.

In effect, the administration’s belief seems to be that if the Constitution doesn’t explicitly state the President can’t do something, then he/she has the power to do whatever they feel necessary to do–irrespective of what the Legislative or Judicial Branches believe.

To see this thinking in action, see this exchange between Alberto Gonzales and Arlen Specter (R.) on the constitutional right to habeas.

Gonzales:

There’s no explicit grant of habeas in the Constitution, there’s a prohibition to taking it away.

Specter:

Now wait a minute. The Constitution says you can’t take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion? Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas unless there’s an invasion or rebellion?

Gonzales:

I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or every citizen is herby granted or ensured the right to habeas. It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right to habeas corpus shall not be suspended…

What an incredibly fundamentalist or literal view to the Constitution. You can see the entire episode free on Frontline’s site or paid download on iTunes. Fascinating stuff.

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