The place of the Judicial Branch in today's news -- If it were not for the courts regularly stepping in, things would be even worse for citizens interested in exercising their civil rights and civil liberties during the two terms of the Bush administration. Every day there is a new story about the court finding the administration's actions did not comply with the rule of law. The first story is about Janet Jackson's bared breast at the Super Bowl.
- FCC was wrong about Janet Jackson. To quote Wired News today:
A federal appeals court on Monday threw out a $550,000 indecency fine against CBS Corp. for the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that ended with Janet Jackson's breast-baring "wardrobe malfunction."The three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Communications Commission "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in issuing the fine for the fleeting image of nudity.
The 90 million people watching the Super Bowl, many of them children,heard Justin Timberlake sing, "Gonna have you naked by the end of this song," as he reached for Jackson's bustier.
The court found that the FCC deviated from its nearly 30-year practice of fining indecent broadcast programming only when it was so "pervasive as to amount to 'shock treatment' for the audience."
"Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second-guessing," the court said. "But it cannot change a well-established
course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its
- McCain campaign adopts Bush suppression of free speech at campaign events. ACLU will have to go to court again, you can bet on it. And I bet they would win. To quote Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com:
At the center of this dissent-suppressive policy was Gregory Jenkins, the former deputy assistant to President Bush and White House director of advance, as well as a former Fox News producer. Jenkins was sued by the ACLU for his role in the removal of the Denver attendees and in several other cases. Bush officials originally denied any role in this conduct, but a Presidential Advance Manual for which Jenkins was responsible uncovered by the ACLU explicitly instructed event workers on when and how "to stop a demonstrator from getting into the event" and "calls for Bush volunteers to distribute tickets in a manner to deter protesters and to stop demonstrators from entering." As the ACLU put it:
The American Civil Liberties Union national office today filed a federal lawsuit against a former high-level White House staffer for enacting a policy that unlawfully excluded individuals perceived to be critical of the administration from public events where President Bush was present. The policy is laid out in an October 2002 "Presidential Advance Manual" obtained by the ACLU. . . .
The ACLU is suing Gregory Jenkins, former Director of the White House Office of Presidential Advance and a Deputy Assistant to President Bush for setting the policy in the manual. Jenkins' policies have led to the removal and, in some cases, arrest of innocent people from taxpayer-funded events.
One of the lawsuits brought against Jenkins -- Rank v. Jenkins, brought by the ACLU on behalf of two Texas citizens who "were arrested for trespassing, handcuffed, and hauled away in a police van" on the West Virginia State Capitol ground when trying to attend a Bush July 4 speech wearing anti-war and anti-Bush t-shirts -- ended with a settlement under which the Government paid them $80,000.
Earlier this month, the same Greg Jenkins joined the McCain campaign to oversee the campaign's advance planning:
Today in history -- Constitutional Convention, June 21, 1787: Constitutional Convention debated the nature of the Judicial Branch.
View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.