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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:27 am 
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[Note: I split this off from the thread about the middle-east - VtF]

IdylleSeethes wrote:
Ghan is correct about democracy. There is no longer a valid example of democracy in the world, which seems to be outmoded anyway, in the view of Justice Ginsburg.

I'm curious to know more about what Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said about democracy being an outmoded form of government.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:27 pm 
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N.E. Brigand wrote:
IdylleSeethes wrote:
Ghan is correct about democracy. There is no longer a valid example of democracy in the world, which seems to be outmoded anyway, in the view of Justice Ginsburg.

I'm curious to know more about what Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said about democracy being an outmoded form of government.


Yeah. That doesn't sound like the Ruth Bader Ginsburg that I know. Not by a long shot.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:57 pm 
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Thanks for reacting. I don't have time at the moment to address everything. I will address the side issue of Ginsburg's view of the Constitution. I was hoping to give you a link to Ginsburg's interview while in Egypt, but the video at the link I have has been taken down. I'll find one later.

It was reported in Huffington, a Liberal media source, at this link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/0 ... 48527.html

Quote:
"Yet while Ginsburg's interview, posted on YouTube on Wednesday, lauded the Founding Fathers' "grand general ideas that become more effective over the course of ... more than two sometimes-turbulent centuries," she also said she "would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012," given its original exclusion of women, slaves and Native Americans."


I think the assessment, that the Constitution is flawed, is the result of turning the relationship between the states and the Federal government upside down. The Federal governement was intended to serve the needs of the states and limited to the specific responsibilities addressed in the Constitution. The present view seems to be the states are to serve the Federal government and the Federal government can do anything it pleases. Voting rights were not dictated by the Constitution, they were left to the states to determine. I have no trouble agreeing there were massive flaws in the implementation of voting, but these are state issues, not US Constitutional issues.

So, Ginsburg is saying the US and its Constitution don't represent a true democracy, presumably because so much was left up to the states. I can create a long litany of faults of this country, foreign and domestic, but I am offended at her denigration of the document that created what I view as one of the "best" countries in the world. It is easy to attack it for its many mistakes, but it is probably impossible to identify another world power that did not reach its position by killing many millions of its own people. China, the Soviet Union, Germany are just a few 20th century examples. Of course, the US had its Civil War, but that isn't the kind of repression exercised in the 3 named countries. I don't think it is time to declare South Africa a success either.

This is a flawed list of 20th and 21st century civilian killings, the best I could find quickly:

Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50) 49-78,000,000

Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1939-1945) 12,000,000 (concentration camps and civilians deliberately killed in WWII plus 3 million Russian POWs left to die)

Leopold II of Belgium (Congo, 1886-1908) 8,000,000

Jozef Stalin (USSR, 1932-39) 6,000,000 (the gulags plus the purges plus Ukraine's famine)

Hideki Tojo (Japan, 1941-44) 5,000,000 (civilians in WWII)

Ismail Enver (Turkey, 1915-20) 1,200,000 Armenians (1915) + 350,000 Greek Pontians and 480,000 Anatolian Greeks (1916-22) + 500,000 Assyrians (1915-20)

Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79) 1,700,000

Kim Il Sung (North Korea, 1948-94) 1.6 million (purges and concentration camps)

Menghistu (Ethiopia, 1975-78 ) 1,500,000

Yakubu Gowon (Biafra, 1967-1970) 1,000,000


Source:

http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html

It makes no mention of the 2 million killed after the fall of Saigon. I don't know what else is missing, offhand.

I would prefer to be discussing the role of the US in the troubles in North Africa and the Middle East in this thread. I hope to start a thread, on democracy and the difference between the view of governance between the Christian West and Islam, sometime this week.

Sorry for a rushed response.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:16 pm 
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Idylle, I appreciate your point of view, but please don't say that someone like Justice Ginsberg said something that she didn't say. Give us some credit for being able to parse out subtle statements.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:49 am 
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VtF,

I didn't see much subtlety there.

These are the words attributed to her in the article:

[I] "would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,"

The writer paraphrased her explanatory statement:

"...given its original exclusion of women, slaves and Native Americans."

Having seen the video several times, although back in February, I believe the qoute of her remarks to be accurate and the writer's paraphrase to be an appropriate reflection of what she said.

What I draw from that is that she has so little respect for our Constitution that she advises others to look elsewhere for guidance in constructing their own constitution. She has so little respect because she doesn't consider it explicitly inclusive enough. I have inferred she believes the Constitution is not democratic enough, having left out these groups.

I don't see much respect for the document she has sworn to protect.

This is a heavily edited version, missing the paraphrased portion:

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3295.htm

I hit dozens of the links to the longer version removed from youtube. I couldn't find a transcript, even of the shorter version.

What this version does include is a statement about how old (outdated?) the Constitution is. Her emphasis on not using our Constitution as a model comes across more clearly in the video.

Give me credit for intentionally using a Liberal news source rather than one of the many Conservative sources that visciously attacked her over her remarks.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:57 am 
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She does not, and never has said that "democracy" is an out-moded form of government. I put "democracy" in quotes because Justice Ginsberg, like any intelligent person, knows that our system of government is not an never was a "democracy". But she is a great champion of our form of government.

As for our Constitution being a flawed document, of course it is. It is a document written by human beings. What's more human being in the 18th century, who believed that only white men who owned property had any rights. What is amazing is that it has proven to be a flexible enough document to adapt to the times as we have learned that women are equal to men, and people with black skin are worth more than 3/5th of a person.

Again, I'm happy to have the discussion, but don't say that she said something that she didn't say in order to score a point. You are better than that.

Edited to add: And personally, I find the Huffington Post and similar sites to be less than worthless, so citing them isn't going help make a case with me.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:59 am 
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Her explanatory statement is what's important here, IMO. A constitution based on the original form of ours (which is what she seems to be talking about) would exclude blacks (at least, it wouldn't guarantee the right to vote to them), Native Americans, and women. What is admirable about our Constitution isn't contained in those bits; it may be partly contained in the fact that its structure has allowed the franchise and other rights (and liberties) to be extended to many more groups of people as time has gone on.

That's one of the things a new constitution ought to emulate, IMO. I don't see anything disrespectful of our Constitution in mentioning it.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:37 am 
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Some of us have had the privilege of taking this oath:

Quote:
I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.


I think 50 years ago most people who made this oath took it seriously. I think today, most don't.

It is a simple concept - support, defend, bear true faith and allegience. It concerns a living document. Not living because we can derive new exotic interpretations every day, but because it itself contains the procedure by which it can be changed. My oath wasn't for the original Constitution but to the Constitution as it was in 1970 and as it progresses from that point.

The Constitution contains some ambiguity. but for the most part, it is easily understood. The need for expansion and interpolation is mostly in the eye of the beholder.

The ultimate protector of the Constitution, which defines our form of democracy, was intended to be the Supreme Court. It was to correct the overeaches of both the Legislative and Executive branches.

The Supreme Court has abbrogated its responsibility.

In the early 20th century, something as mundane as the regulation of alcohol was thought worthy of a Constitutional Amendment. These days, far more intrusive things are frequently done without even the assent of the Legislative branch.

Whether you view the Executive from a Progressive viewpoint or a Conservative viewpoint, you can easily say it violates the Constitution frequently. Afghanistan, drones and their death panels, countless undeclared wars.... The Legislative branch is as bad. Fiscal irresponsibility, including the fact the Senate hasn't passed a budget in 4 years, and the net worth of Americans has hit a 43 year low because of it.

Where is the Supreme Court?

It would be foolish to say judges shouldn't be interested in moral, ethical, or legal issues from around the world. However, this does not condone a sitting Justice suggesting that foreign law should be cited in court decisions. The oath is to our Constitution, not German law, and not the Bible. All that matters at the point of a court decision is what the Constitution says and what the authors of the relevant part intended when they created that part. If you don't like what it actually says or you don't like what it actually means, amend it. I want judges to be informed, but more importantly I want them to protect the Constitution. Justice Ginsburg's 2009 statement about foreign law demonstrated her lack of respect for both the Constitution and her role, as defined by the Constitution. Justice Ginsburg's January statement concerning the Egyption constitutional assembly is just the latest example of her not respecting the Constitution. Please don't confuse my opinion with the noise from the right when she made the remark.

If you believe Justice Ginsburg is supporting, defending, and bearing true faith and allegience to your Constitution and the democracy it defines, I'm happy for you. She isn't protecting my Constitution or the democracy it defines.


This past week, a Democrat legislator did something unusual. He suggested it is time for a Constitutional Amendment to "correct" the Citizens United ruling. Most of them seem to think they just needed to pass a new law. It was refreshing to see someone who took the oath, acting as if it had meaning.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:45 pm 
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The movement to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United has been going on for years.

As for citing foreign decisions, in appropriate situations, it makes perfect sense, as conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy has long very eloquently expressed. To quote J.R.R. Tolkien and Aragorn:

'Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.'

Nor is good and ill one thing for Americans, and another thing for Europeans. It is for us, and SCOTUS justices more than anyone, to discern what is good and what is ill. If they find examples in foreign decisions that help them make that determination, more power to them, so long as they don't abrogate the responsibility.

The idea that because people have a different point of view than you do they are some how less patriotic than you are or love it any less than you do is an argument that I find morally reprehensible. It is particularly ridiculous when applied to someone like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has dedicated her life for so long to defending the rights guaranteed by the constitution (as it has developed and grown), with the ACLU, and then as a Court of Appeal judge, and finally as U.S. Supreme Court justice.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:56 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
Nor is good and ill one thing for Americans, and another thing for Europeans. It is for us, and SCOTUS justices more than anyone, to discern what is good and what is ill. If they find examples in foreign decisions that help them make that determination, more power to them, so long as they don't abrogate the responsibility.



And that is especially the case if the citation is from another common law jurisdiction. American decisions are sometimes cited in the English Courts (and indeed Irish, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand ones too, more frequently)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:50 pm 
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Ah, so it was indeed Ginsburg's remarks in Egypt you were thinking of. Please note that the clips of the interview available on youtube --and the most easily found transcript-- are heavily edited: about three minutes long while the full interview ran sixteen minutes. I recommend < this commentary > at Media Matters, which includes a lot more of what Ginsburg said, including this praise for the Constitution:

Quote:
And it's a Constitution that starts out with three wonderful words: It's we the people. And so that's the motivating idea, is that the government is formed with the consent of the people and it should serve the interests of the people and not just, of all of the people and not just some of them.

[…]

The framers gathered in Philadelphia. Some of the most brilliant minds of the day were together there, and the, they debated, made many compromises, and, and came up with an instrument that endured, but I think it was, in part, the experience that they had had.

[…]

We were just tremendously fortunate in the United States that the men who met in Philadelphia were very wise.

[…]

We keep those provisions [regarding slavery] although they are no longer enforced just so people would see how imperfect we were and how much more perfect, we're still not all the way there, but the genius of the Constitution I think is that it has this notion of who, who composes "we the people." It has expanded and expanded over the years.

[…]

So it's, the, the wisdom of the framers, they wrote in general terms, so they wrote, "no person shall be denied due process of law."


Now she has plenty of caveats, but so would any reasonable person considering a document that at least implicitly endorses slavery -- especially when talking about how to draft the constitution for a new government today. The best such document of its time? Sure! But if you were starting over now, you probably wouldn't copy it whole. But what she does for the most part is simply to explain how the U.S. government is structured.

The connection between sensible analysis of the merits and flaws of the U.S. Constitution (which has after all been modified two dozen times since it was first created) and the heinous crimes of Pol Pot and Mao Zedong escapes me.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:44 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
The movement to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United has been going on for years.


Yes. This election cycle, my state actually amended its constitution to require our Congressional delegation to back an amendment repealing Citizens United and our state legislature to vote to ratify. It was passed by public referendum and is more symbolic than anything else, but that's where Colorado stands.

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