Berkeley Law School professor (and former Department of Justice attorney) John Yoo published his inaugural column in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday. He argues that Obama should nominate somebody FDR would have liked to the Supreme Court:
Franklin Roosevelt faced exactly this dilemma. With large majorities at his back, FDR pushed through sweeping legislative efforts to end the Great Depression (which never really worked). His only obstacle became the Supreme Court, which held several basic New Deal laws to violate the Constitution’s limits on federal powers and the economic rights of the individual. Only after FDR waged a campaign to increase the size of the court and give himself more appointments did the justices surrender. The New Deal could not have survived without judges that deferred to the legislature on economic regulation.
Obama could make a pick based solely on race or sex – though it’s not clear why the most empathetic judges are minorities or women – to please parts of his coalition. But if the president wants to secure the success of his economic, political, and national-security objectives, he should remember FDR’s example and choose a judge who believes in the right of the president and Congress, not the courts, to make the nation’s policies. If Obama shoots for empathy instead, he will give Senate Republicans yet another opportunity to rally around a unifying issue where they better represent the majority of Americans.
Wait, so now FDR’s court-packing scheme was a good idea? Because it hobbled SCOTUS and forced them to defer to Roosevelt’s amazing enhancement of federal power? A conservative believes this?
Before we get too bogged down in Yoo’s argument, can somebody remind me why we care about what John Yoo has to say?
The left (over) reacts, after the jump.
It seems the mere presence of John Yoo in public without his mouth covered in skin like Keanu trying to make his phone call in the Matrix is enough to make the left flip out. In the Philadelphia Daily News, Will Bunch loses his lunch over Yoo’s new columnist gig:
[W]hile promoting public discourse is a goal of newspaper commentary, it should not be the main objective. The higher calling for an American newspaper should be promoting and maintaining our sometimes fragile democracy, the very thing that Yoo and his band of torture advocates very nearly shredded in a few short years. Quite simply, by handing Yoo a regularly scheduled platform for his viewpoint, the Inquirer is telling its readers that Yoo’s ideas — especially that torture is not a crime against the very essence of America — are acceptable.
This is exactly the kind of “on one hand, on the other hand” cowardly practice that has become a cancer destroying the moral DNA of America’s newsrooms. “On one hand, torture is not only immoral but a violation of international and even U.S. law, but on the other hand, check out our ‘provocative’ new columnist, John Yoo, who can’t travel to Europe because he might be arrested for war crimes!” This is wrong — horribly so. For more than five years, American newsrooms have helped to normalize the inhumane practice of torture, giving into the government’s Orwellian terms like “enhanced interrogation” and failing to call for accountability of those responsible for these crimes, including — but not stopping at — John Yoo. For a much-honored newspaper like the Inquirer to pay someone like Yoo to write a regular column is surely the exclamation point on a dark period in which most of my profession flunked its greatest moral test.
First of all, the “cancer destroying the moral DNA of America’s newsrooms” is called “free online media.” Let’s keep our eyes on the ball, boys. There’s a recession going on, and we’ve got bigger battles to fight than John Yoo.
Second of all, and I could be being horribly naive here, but it seems to me that the American public is fully capable of understanding that torture is bad (there’s some pretty compelling evidence), or deciding that torture is awesome (’cause sometimes it is) regardless of what John Yoo writes or where he writes it. People are fully capable of reading and enjoying a columnist without agreeing with everything (or even most things) that the writer believes.
He wrote some memos. Now he is back to being a law professor. Did I miss the part where he flew down to Guantanamo with Sayid from Lost and tortured “the others”?
I just can’t figure out why we’re talking about him. I’m writing about him right now and I don’t know why I’m doing that. Now I’m part of the freakin’ problem! I’m a hypocrite! How did this happen to me? I hate myself.
Maybe Yoo should be in prison. Maybe he shouldn’t. But I’m almost positive he’s got the right to say whatever he wants. And if somebody wants to publish it, I’m pretty sure that is okay too. John Yoo’s Sunday column is not going to destroy America, and it’s not going to make our children grow up to be torturers.
I see no reason. I find no evil. This man is harmless, so why does he upset you?
He’s just misguided. Thinks he’s important. But to keep you vultures happy I shall flog him.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find some law student who completes take-home exams in the nude to write about. You know, something important.
Closing Arguments: Obama needs a neutral justice [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Inquirer defends the indefensible: A monthly column by torture architect John Yoo [Philadelphia Daily News]
The Philadelphia Inquirer and Yoo [WSJ Law Blog]