McCain and the ‘Unitary Executive’ By Robert Parry

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Parry
May 13, 2008

If John McCain wins the presidency – and gets to appoint one or more U.S. Supreme Court justices – America’s 220-year experiment as a democratic Republic living under the principle that “no man is above the law” may come to an end.

To put the matter differently, if a President McCain replaces one of the moderate justices with another Samuel Alito – as McCain has vowed to do – then Justice Department lawyer John Yoo’s extreme vision of an all-powerful Executive could well become the new law of the land.

On May 6 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, during a speech aimed at appeasing conservatives, McCain promised to appoint justices in the mold of George W. Bush’s selections, Justice Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts, expanding the court’s right-wing faction that also includes Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Those four justices already have embraced the Bush administration’s radical notion that at a time of war – even one as vaguely defined as the “war on terror” – the President possesses “plenary” or unlimited powers through his commander-in-chief authority.

As expressed in classified memos by Yoo when he was a key lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, there should be, in essence, no limits on what a war-time President can do as long as he is asserting his duty to protect the nation.

Alito also is associated with this concept of a “unitary executive,” holding that a President should control all regulatory authority, define the limits of laws via “signing statements” and – at his own discretion – override treaties, the will of Congress and even the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Under this theory, a President can cite his commander-in-chief powers to spy on citizens without warrants, imprison people without charges, authorize torture, order assassinations, and invade other countries without congressional approval.

With just one more Alito, that view would claim control of the U.S. Supreme Court and allow a new five-to-four majority to, in effect, rewrite the Constitution. The founding principle of the United States – that everyone possesses certain “unalienable” human rights – would be history. [For details, see Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.]


6 thoughts on “McCain and the ‘Unitary Executive’ By Robert Parry

  1. Pingback: McCain Madness « Dandelion Salad

  2. Thanks for your comments, Mark and Paul.

    To quote Nader: “…more voices, more choices.” Or something close to that. Voting third party is NOT a waste of a vote.

    Changing our election laws so third parties can be on the ballots in all 50 states would be a good start.

  3. Nice job of melodrama. You’re assuming every strict constructionist is a little Alito, which is a false. In addition, if you read the founding fathers, they intended and assumed strict constructionalism, not redefining and rewriting the constitution by judicial fiat.

    Thank you for convincing me not to waste a vote on a third party but to vote for McCain.

  4. Right you are. McCain is simply Bush warmed over, and while they both may have the best of intentions, it is time for change, one that may be able, in time, to retrieve, our nation’s reputation abroad. Hopefully Senator Obama is the man to lead us to this new promised land. I pray that he is and that people will give him a chance.

  5. Thanks, Jacob. Hopefully as more and more people are getting their news (real news) from alternative sources that maybe we all can make a difference in our country.

  6. The name of this blog post could also have been, ‘Who would like another reason to despise that crazy old man for president, John McCain?’ And I would have been like: not me. But I’ll take it just the same.

    Thanks for all the alternative (aka REAL) news and insight like in this article that’s missing from the MSM.

    Now let’s take down this bastard!

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