Friday, December 23, 2005

The Law is King

The wiretapping may or may not be potentially constitutionally - that is, if congress authorized it the Supremos would uphold it - but Bush has violated the constitution by directly disobeying the law. That is, by failing to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed. As Glenn Greenwald writes:

The issue is not whether the President has this authority to eavesdrop without a warrant but whether it is legal for him to do in the face of Congressional laws which make it a crime to do so. And none of the authorities they cite conclude that the President has such a royal power. Not one.

Marty Lederman has a superb and crystal clear post on precisely this issue. Even if one assumes to be true the dubious proposition that the President possesses inherent constitutional authority to order warrantless surveillance on American citizens, that does not mean that it is legal for him to do so in violation of a criminal statute enacted by Congress. But that is what Bush did here, and there is just nothing which even arguably gives that behavior the color of legality. That’s because we live under the rule of law where not even Presidents are bestowed with the right to engage in conduct which Congressional criminal law expressly prohibits.