Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Patriot Act, Lieberman, Wiretaps, Oh My!

- I have not yet seen a complete report on the oral arguments this afternoon in the Texas redistricting cases - hopefully Greenhouse or Lithwick (who disappointed me yesterday by dispatching on the Anna Nicole Smith case instead of the Vermont campaign finance hearing) will have something out before the end of the evening. But Bloomberg, Forbes, and the Associated Press all have articles out on the hearing which are worth reading. The AP's notes one exchange from within the Court: Paul Smith, an attorney for the League of United Latin American Citizens, said "The only reason it [the 2003 mid-decade redistricting maneuver] was considered, let alone passed, was to help one political party get more seats than another," to which Justice Scalia (whose vote I'm fairly confident is well beyond reach) quipped "That's a surprise. Legislatures re-draw the map all the time for political reasons." Exactly, Justice Scalia. The question is, should that be permitted? The person I'll be waiting (impatiently) for comments from is Justice Kennedy, since he will almost certainly be the swing vote on this one. What Roberts and Alito said today will be key as well. Stay tuned.

- The Hill reports today that the number of House Republicans planning to retire from Congress after this term could increase dramatically, with some analysts predicting 10-15 more retirements above the sixteen already announced. Over at RedState, editor Dales writes of this story "If that transpires, ... that will be an ominous sign. One of the earliest warning signs for Democrats in 1994 was that they had a high number of retirements-- it is usually a sign that the polls done behind the scenes (and not just media polls) are showing some really bad news. Forecasters should keep their eyes on that particular canary in the coalmine." Perhaps we should also take even the possibility as a sign that perhaps something's gone a little off-track. Imagine that.

- The Senate today agreed by a vote of 95-4 to amend the current version of the PATRIOT Act reauthorization "
to make it clear that individuals who receive subpoena-like 'national security letters' from investigators are not required to disclose the names of their lawyers, and to limit the use of national security letters in obtaining Internet records from libraries." Senators Feingold, Byrd, Harkin and Jeffords voted against the amendment. Later, the chamber voted 84-15 to invoke cloture on the reauthorization bill, which means final passage could come as early as tomorrow. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) did not vote in either case. After the final Senate vote, the bill goes back to the House for action.

- In a surprising display of bipartisan unity, Rep. Chris Shays has announced he'll support Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in his reelection bid this fall. Shays says he's also encouraging other Republican officeholders to support Lieberman's campaign. There is currently no Republican slated to run against the incumbent, although Lieberman does face a primary challenge from anti-war candidate and DailyKos darling Ned Lamont.

- This report in today's Washington Post is worrisome. It covers a letter sent by AG Alberto Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he suggests that clandestine activities approved since 9/11 may go beyond the NSA wiretap program made public in December, saying "I did not and could not address ... any other classified intelligence activities. ... I was confining my remarks to the Terrorist Surveillance Program as described by the President, the legality of which was the subject" of the Judiciary Committee's meeting. Gonzales' letter also raises questions about how and when the legal justification for the wiretap program was developed. It sounds to me like it's time for another Judiciary Committee hearing.


Post a Comment

<< Home