I recently discussed the implications of Associated Press story on access given to donors to the Clinton Foundation. However, what is not getting much attention is that the Obama Administration delayed these journalist investigators for THREE YEARS in seeking this information from the State Department. Three years and the AP had to go to court to secure what is clearly public information. The Obama Administration is not unique in its resistance to disclosures, even in what President Obama once pledged would be the “most transparent” government in history. FOIA has long been reduced to a farce by bureaucrats who force public interest, reporters, and legal groups to go to court to secure information. The lack of outrage over what the AP was put through is ample proof that the government has won in harassing efforts to use FOIA. Only the most organized groups tend to persist in such efforts.
Below is my column in the Washington Post on Donald Trump’s proposal of “extreme vetting” for immigrants to the United States. While some have suggested that the proposal would violate the Constitution, I do not agree. There are ample concerns or objections that can be raised as a matter of policy. However, such vetting is neither unconstitutional nor unprecedented. Particularly if implemented with congressional approval, I believe that such a heightened level of scrutiny would pass constitutional muster. Conversely, this is clearly something that Congress could prevent legislatively.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is made a highly disturbing proposal that people who visit sites that are deemed as favoring terrorist groups. As articulated by Gingrich in his Fox News interview, the proposal would eviscerate the first amendment and leave that government in a position to regulate speech and association based on an ill-defined standard. Gingrich also attracted criticism for his proposal to test Muslims to allow for deportation of anyone who “believes in Sharia” — a proposal that would sanction peoplr for their religious and political views.
Below is my column on Sunday in the Chicago Tribune on the controversy involving Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg’s expression of “regret” over “ill-advised” statements may strike many as a bit short of an actual apology for what was facially unethical conduct. However, it was more than was required because nothing is required from a Supreme Court justice. That is the problem. Not the tirade against Trump. Not the criticism of Republicans in Congress. The real problem is that Ginsburg and her colleagues claim that the Code of Judicial Ethics is only binding on lesser jurists. Indeed, a majority of justices have been accused of ethical violations, but the Supreme Court is the only part of our government that is not subject to any enforceable code of ethics. Ginsburg’s apology should not detract attention from pressing need for reforms of our Court, including the creation of an enforceable ethical code for the justices. Once again, we have addressed only the latest manifestation of the problem on the Court rather than the underlying cause: the absence of an enforceable code of ethics for the justices. I have long advocated two primary reforms for the Court: the establishment of an enforceable code of ethics and the expansion of the Court to 19 members. What was disturbing recently during an appearance on the Washington Journal on C-Span was how many people argued against an enforceable code of ethics and just accepted that justices speak and act politically. While some people simply supported what Ginsburg had to say about Trump, others view the notion of an enforceable code of ethics as “naive” despite that fact that all other federal jurists comply with such a code. Below is the column:
I have long been a critic of the Supreme Court justices engaging in public appearances where they hold forth on contemporary issues and even pending matters before the Court. I have been particularly critical of the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Associated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who clearly relished appearances before ideologically supportive groups. I have called this trend the “rise of the celebrity justice.” Now, Justice Ginsburg has started another firestorm over public comments where she joked that she would move to New Zealand if Donald Trump is elected. Canon 5 of the judicial ethical rules expressly states that judges shall not “make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office.” The problem is that the Court has long maintained that ethical codes are not enforceable against its members as opposed to every other jurist in the country. This absurd position has continued because Congress has failed to act, something that I have previously criticized. Ginsburg’s statements this week reflects the continued sense of impunity enjoyed by justices who violate the core maxim that “no man shall be the judge of his own case.” The justices are the judges of their own ethical cases and they show vividly why that is a dangerous and corrupting power.
On Wednesday morning, I have the honor of appearing before Committee of the Judiciary in the United States House of Representatives. The hearing entitled “Examining The Allegations of Misconduct of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen” will address the options facing Congress in addressing alleged misconduct by Commissioner Koskinen. The hearing will start at 10 am in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building. My testimony is linked below.
Below is my column in USA Today on the striking similarities between Richard Nixon and Hillary Clinton, particularly with regard to the staffers surrounding them. Both tended to blame others about being, to paraphrase Nixon, “kicked around.” However, there are deeper and rather disturbing patterns emerging that are shared by the two leaders in my view.