April 24, 2016
What The Country, Especially The Malay Must Decide And Do – By Matthias Chang
April 24, 2016
April 20, 2016
(@KLIA on the way back to Phnom Penh)
by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee
Dr. Zakir Naik, the controversial Muslim televangalist, is no stranger to Malaysia. He was here first in 2012 to deliver lectures in Johor Baru, Shah Alam, Kuantan and Kuala Lumpur. According to the organizers of the first lecture series, their objective was to promote harmony among people of various religions.
He is now into his second lecture tour series here. Presumably his objective to spread the message of peace, love and brotherhood among the various religions and Islam remains unchanged.
But perhaps his presence is also to emphasise the superiority of Islam over other religions; and as stated in the website of the Islamic Research Foundation of which he is President and founder, “about the truth and excellence of Islamic teachings – based on the glorious Qur’an and authentic Hadith, as well as adhering to reasons, logic and scientific facts”?
His main claim to fame (and contrariety) in Malaysia comes from being recipient of the Ma’al Hijrah Distinguished Personality award by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah in 2013 for his significant service and contribution to the development of Islam. He has also received various other awards and honours – all from Islamic governments or organizations.
That said, his standing with some non-Muslim governments and organizations is less creditable and more controversial. The religious television channel, Peace TV, which acknowledges him as its main ideologue as well as driving force, has been banned by his own government, the Indian government, for its anti-Indian malicious content.
This is a reasonable statement
The station has also been in trouble with various broadcasting authorities for some of its content and Dr. Zakir himself has been banned from entry to the United Kingdom, Canada and Singapore – in the UK, for allegedly “engaging in unacceptable behaviour by making statements that attempt to justify terrorist activity and fostering hatred.”
It could be that Dr. Zakir has been unfairly targeted and victimized for his religious zealotry and popularity with the Muslim community. He has claimed, for example, that he has been quoted out of context for his views on terrorism.
But if he has been misquoted or has recanted for his earlier views on Al Queda and his support of Islamic terrorism, what are his perspectives on Islam and other religions which have enabled him to gain such a huge following among Muslims all over the world, and have him placed so high up on the pedestal?
Peace Preacher or Hate Monger.
Critics who have followed his lectures and preaching – Dr. Zakir, following the example of Christian telemarketers, describes himself as “a dynamic international orator of Islam and comparative religion – have expressed concern over his conservative and extremist views on a wide range of subjects, including apostasy and the propagation of other faiths in Islamic states, both of them major issues in Malaysia.
On the former, he is said to have argued that Muslims who convert from Islam should not necessarily receive death sentences, but that under Islamic rule those who leave Islam and then “propagate the non-Islamic faith and speak against Islam” should be put to death. Another source states that according to Dr. Zakir “there is no death penalty for apostates in Islam, until the apostate starts to preach his new religion; then he can be put to death.”
On the latter, Dr. Zakir has noted that while he appreciates that people of other religions allow Muslims to freely propagate Islam in their country, “the dissemination of other religions within an Islamic state must be forbidden because (he believes) other faiths are incorrect, so their propagation is as wrong as it would be for an arithmetic teacher to teach that 2+2=3 or 6 instead of 2+2=4.”
Similarly Dr. Zakir has argued, “regarding building of churches or temples, how can we allow this when their religion is wrong and when their worship-ping is wrong?”
Similarly, The Times of India in a profile piece on Dr. Zakir has argued that “the Wahabi-Salafist brand of Islam, bankrolled by petro-rich Saudi Arabia and propagated by preachers like Naik, does not appreciate the idea of pluralism.”
The article quotes Muslim scholar Wahiduddin Khan: “Dawah, which Naik also claims to be engaged in, is to make people aware of the creation plan of God, not to peddle some provocative, dubious ideas as Naik does.”
He adds: “The wave of Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11 and the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have only added to the Muslims’ sense of injury. In such a situation, when a debater like Zakir Naik, in eloquent English, takes on preachers of other faiths and defeats them during debates, the Muslims’ chests puff with pride. A community nursing a huge sense of betrayal and injustice naturally lionises anyone who gives
A community nursing a huge sense of betrayal and injustice naturally lionises anyone who gives it a sense of pride. Never mind if it’s false pride.”
Whether Dr. Zakir should have the right to be in Malaysia and to speak on comparative religions may be controversial but in our part of the world apparently lacking appropriate Islamic “wise” men and leaders to look up to, hopefully it is not false pride that Dr. Zakir is peddling but the doctrinal and institutional re-caliberation of the religion so that Malaysians can be reassured of its contribution to our religious and racial peace and harmony.
April 5, 2016
by Din Merican
Lawyer Rosli sought Justice and won
This afternoon was supposed to be the continuation of the trial of Rosli Dahlan vs MACC where more of the MACC witnesses were supposed to take the witness stand and be grilled in cross examination. But all that fizzled out when the MACC floundered and admitted defeat.
Sources close to the prosecution revealed that since last November the MACC and A-G Chambers have been wooing Rosli to seek a settlement. Then, the courting became more intense with the MACC representatives even visiting Rosli. Then when it became inevitable that its witness MACC officer Mohan was going to be grilled and roasted, the MACC threw the towel.
This Mohan is a corrupted officer who handcuffed Rosli until he bled, and this is what happened to him:
MACCs Abu Kassim eats the humble pie
To cut the story short all those who fixed Rosli 8 years ago have met their retribution, their divine karma. Kevin Morais was killed buried and cemented in a drum. Gani Patail sacked so unceremoniously from his once all powerful post of Attorney General. What goes around comes around. And today is the ultimate victory for Lawyer Rosli when the MACC and government apologise to him in open court to a packed court gallery.
Never before has a government enforcement agency bowed to a private individual who sued it. But, Rosli’s case is not the usual case. It is a case of intrigue, of one man’s long and grueling battle against the whole machinery of the government. Like the movie David v Goliath, when God is on your side, you can’t lose. So I say to Rosli – you have been very steadfast in your fight for the truth and God has rewarded you with victory.I am proud of what you have accomplished in the cause of justice and congratulate you on your victory.
See below the MACC’S apology to Rosli which was read in witness box in open court by Senior Assistant Commissioner MACC Saiful Ezral.
PERNYATAAN DI MAHKAMAH TERBUKA
Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia dengan ini menyatakan seperti berikut:
1. Pada 11 Oktober 2007, Badan Pencegah Rasuah yang kini dikenali sebagai Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (“SPRM”) telah menangkap dan menggari Peguam Rosli Dahlan di pejabatnya di firma guamannya Tetuan Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill sehari sebelum Hari Raya Aidilfitri dan dikenakan pendakwaan.
2. Peguam Rosli Dahlan telah dilepaskan dan dibebaskan oleh Mahkamah dari pertuduhan tanpa dipanggil pembelaannya.
3. Peguam Rosli Dahlan telah mengambil tindakan guaman terhadap akhbar arus perdana iaitu Utusan Malaysia, The Star dan News Straits Times dan SPRM kerana memfitnahnya dengan menerbitkan cerita palsu mengenai penangkapannya dengan keputusan yang berikut:
a) Pada 14 Januari 2013, Star Publications (M) Sdn Bhd telah membayar sejumlah ganti rugi yang tidak didedahkan dan telah menerbitkan satu pernyataan permohonan maaf di dalam akhbar “The Star” dan “The Star Online” seperti yang berikut:
“STAR APOLOGIES TO LAWYER ROSLI DAHLAN
In October 2007 we had published 2 news articles about the arrest and prosecution of Lawyer Rosli Dahlan with the titles “ACA ARRESTS SINGAPORE LAWYER” and “LAWYER CHARGED WITH HIDING INFORMATION ON HIS ASSESTS” respectively.
We acknowledge that the words used in the articles refer to Lawyer Rosli Dahlan and they were untrue and should be clarified as follows:
1. That he is not a Singapore Lawyer and is in fact a Malaysian lawyer;
2. That he does not hold a PR Status and in truth is a Malaysian citizen;
3. That he is not and has never been a nominee for the senior police officer under investigation nor for that matter any other police officer;
4. That he had not failed to file a declaration required by the Anti- Corruption Agency and in truth and in fact had filed a statutory declaration dated 20.09.2007 under section 32(1)(c) of the Anti Corruption Act 1997 declaring that he does not hold any assets for any police officer within the period stipulated by the notice served on him;
5. That he was never issued with any order to declare his spouse’s assets nor was his spouse asked to make any declaration of her assets; ,
6. That he is not connected to nor did he hide any assets of nor was charged for hiding any assets of the senior police officer who was then under investigation by the ACA.
Our said news articles have conveyed the meaning that Lawyer Rosli Dahlan was a foreign lawyer who had acted in manner contrary to the proper behavior and ethics of an advocate and solicitor
We wish to clarify that we did not intend to cast any such negative imputation against the character or reputation of Rosli Dahlan and any such imputation is greatly regretted. If such imputation was conveyed in the article, we hereby unreservedly and unconditionally apologise to Rosli Dahlan for any distress or embarrassment that he may have suffered as a result of the publication.”
b) Pada 26 Februari 2013, The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd dan SPRM telah didapati bersalah dan diperintahkan oleh Mahkamah Tinggi untuk membayar ganti rugi sebanyak RM 300,000 dan kos kepada Peguam Rosli Dahlan; dan
c) Pada 6 April 2015, Utusan Malaysia telah mencapai penyelesaian dengan Peguam Rosli Dahlan dengan membayar ganti rugi yang tidak didedahkan dan telah sekali lagi mengulangi permohonan maaf tidak berbelah bahagi dan tidak bersyarat kepada En Rosli Dahlan dengan membacakan permohonan maaf di dalam mahkamah terbuka dalam terma-terma yang berikut:
PERMOHONAN MAAF DALAM MAHKAMAH TERBUKA
Dibacakan oleh Pengarah Undang-Undang Utusan Malaysia En Shirad Anwar:
1. Pada 12 Oktober 2007 semasa umat Islam membuat persiapan menyambut Hari Raya Aidilfitri, kami telah menerbitkan sebuah rencana bertajuk “Peguam Polis Gagal Isytihar Harta Didakwa Hari Ini” berkenaan tangkapan dan dakwaan terhadap Peguam Rosli Dahlan (kemudian daripada ini dirujuk sebagai “Artikel tersebut”).
2. Sejurus selepas penerbitan Artikel tersebut, apabila dituntut oleh Peguam Rosli Dahlan, kami telah di antara lain, pada 15.4.2008, menerbitkan di muka surat 4 akhbar Utusan Malaysia, satu Permintaan Maaf tidak berbelahbagi dan tidak bersyarat kepada Peguam Rosli Dahlan (kemudian daripada ini dirujuk sebagai “Permintaan Maaf tersebut”) yang intipati Permintaan Maaf tersebut adalah seperti berikut:-
3. Bahawa kami telah membuat dakwaan yang tidak benar terhadap Peguam Rosli Dahlan seperti berikut :
3.1 Bahawa beliau adalah seorang rakyat Singapura yang menjalankan amalan guaman di Malaysia, sedangkan beliau sebenarnya dan sememangnya seorang rakyat Malaysia.
3.2 Bahawa beliau telah melanggar undang-undang negara dengan sebab enggan membuat perisytiharan harta, sedangkan beliau sebenarnya telah membuat perisytiharan yang berkenaan.
3.3 Bahawa beliau menyembunyikan harta-harta milik pegawai kanan Polis yang sedang di siasat pihak BPR, sedangkan beliau tidak ada berbuat sedemikian.
3.4 Bahawa beliau merupakan seorang yang bersifat jahat dan bertindak dengan curang dalam menggalangi siasatan BPR, sedangkan beliau senantiasa berkerjasama dengan BPR dan perlakuan dan tindakannya adalah dalam batasan undang undang.
3.5 Bahawa Artikel tersebut telah memberi gambaran yang salah, iaitu bahawa Peguam Rosli Dahlan merupakan seorang peguam rakyat asing yang bertindak dengan sebegitu rupa yang berlawanan dengan sifat seorang peguambela dan peguamcara yang penuh beretika.
3.6 Bahawa kami menyesal akan perbuatan kami itu dan menyedari akan kesan buruk yang telah berlaku kepada Peguam Rosli Dahlan dan bahawa Artikel tersebut yang dikarang dan disiarkan itu bersifat sensasi dan publisiti yang telah melampaui batasan etika kewartawanan di sekitar berita ketika itu mengenai siasatan terhadap YDH Dato’ Pahlawan Haji Ramli bin Haji Yusuff, yang pada masa itu memegang jawatan Pengarah Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah, Polis DiRaja Malaysia.
4. Kami sekali lagi, atas permintaan dan dengan kebenaran dan persetujuan nyata daripada Peguam Rosli Dahlan, mengulangi intipati Permintaan Maaf tersebut seperti yang dinyatakan di atas dan sekali lagi memohon maaf yang tidak berbelah bahagi dan tidak bersyarat kepada Peguam Rosli Dahlan atas kandungan yang tidak benar dalam Artikel tersebut.
5. Kami juga kini sedia maklum bahawa Peguam Rosli Dahlan telah pun dilepaskan dan dibebaskan secara mutlak oleh Mahkamah dari kesemua pertuduhan yang dibuat terhadapnya sebelum ini oleh BPR yang kini dikenali sebagai Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (“SPRM”).”
6. Peguam Rosli Dahlan juga telah mengambil dua tindakan sivil seperti yang berikut:
a) Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur Guaman Sivil No. S 21-249-2009
Rosli bin Dahlan -lwn- Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, Anthony Kevin Morais, Kerajaan Malaysia & 15 Lagi
b) Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur Guaman Sivil 21NCVC-84-11/2013
Rosli bin Dahlan -lwn- Tan Sri Abdul Gani bin Patail, Tan Sri Musa Hassan, Tan Sri Abu Kassim, SPRM, Kerajaan Malaysia & 8 Lagi
6. Pada 2015,Defendan Ke-6 Mendiang Kevin Anthony Morais telah mati dibunuh dan Peguam Negara Tan Sri Abdul Gani bin Patail ditamatkan perkhidmatannya.
7. Mengambil perhatian perkara-perkara tersebut di atas, SPRM memutuskan kes ini tidak perlu dipanjangkan dan tidak membawa manfaat kepada rakyat dan negara Malaysia untuk terus dipertahankan.
7. Maka, SPRM bagi pigak semua Defendan-Defendan dalam perkara ini telah mencapai penyelesaian dengan Peguam Rosli Dahlan di mana beliau menarik balik semua tuntutan dan kami menyatakan kekesalan di atas kejadian ini.
8. Maka SPRM dan kesemua Defendan-Defendan dengan ini menyatakan penyesalan kami diatas kejadian yang menimpa Peguam Rosli Dahlan.
9. Kedua-dua pihak Plaintif dan Defendan-Defendan bersetuju bekerjasama menegakkan keluhuran undang-undang dan mempertahankan kedaulatan Perlembagaan Persekutuan Negara Malaysia.
March 18, 2016
by Bruce Douglas
Najib-Rosmah Partnership with a Samba Twist
Calls secretly recorded by investigating Judge suggest the President gave her predecessor a government role to avoid prosecution on corruption charges.
In the latest of a series of explosive revelations that could bring down the Brazilian government, a secretly recorded phone call between former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva and his successor, Dilma Rousseff, suggests his appointment to a ministerial position on Wednesday ( March 16) was motivated by a desire to avoid prosecution in Brazil’s worst-ever corruption scandal.
Judge Sergio Moro, the lead prosecutor in Operation Lava-jato, a two-year investigation into corruption at the state-run oil company, Petrobras, released nearly 50 audio recordings to the media on Wednesday evening, prompting chaotic scenes in congress as opposition deputies demanded Rousseff’s resignation.
On Thursday morning (March 17) Lula was sworn in as a cabinet minister amid chaotic scenes inside and outside the presidential palace in Brasília.
Supporters inside the gallery where the ceremony took place started chanting his name as he walked in, while an opposition congressman who shouted “shame” was quickly bundled out. In a surprising development, a low-level federal judge in Brasília issued an injunction suspending Silva’s nomination, though government officials expected it to be overturned swiftly by a higher court.
Thousands of protesters congregated outside the presidential palace where government supporters, dressed in the red colours of the ruling Partido dos Trabalhadores, squared off against protesters dressed mainly in the yellow and green strip of the Brazilian football team.
On Wednesday night tens of thousands of Brazilians had gathered in São Paulo, Brasília, Belo Horizonte and other major cities to demand the president’s resignation. In Brasília, riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades at more than 5,000 demonstrators outside the presidential palace and Congress building. Many waved banners calling for Lula’s arrest. Thousands more demonstrators packed the main Avenue Paulista in São Paulo.
Earlier in the day (March 17), Lula was appointed cabinet chief in a controversial move that Rousseff said would strengthen her government, but which critics argued was an attempt to shield the former President, who is under investigation for corruption and money-laundering, from prosecution.
Under Brazilian law, government ministers can be tried only in the “privileged forum” of the supreme court. Opposition activists believe any trial in Brazil’s highest court is likely to progress much more slowly than in the federal court.
They also believe that the supreme court justices – many of whom were appointed by Lula and Rousseff – may prove far more sympathetic than Moro. The judge, from the southern city of Curitiba, has already handed down a number of severe sentences for some of Brazil’s top businessmen who have been found guilty of involvement in the Petrobras scandal.
In the most damaging conversation, recorded on Wednesday afternoon, Rousseff tells Lula that she is sending him over his ministerial papers “in case of necessity”. The Brazilian media and opposition have interpreted the remarks to mean that she was giving him the papers quickly so that Lula could show them to police to avoid detention.
A note published on the presidential palace website late on Wednesday disputed the opposition’s interpretation of the call. It states that Rousseff sent Lula the terms of office for him to sign in case he was unable to attend the swearing-in ceremony, due to take place in Brasília at 10am on Thursday. It also said that the presidency would be pursuing legal action against Moro.
The former President is accused of receiving benefits-in-kind from construction companies involved in the Petrobras scandal. Prosecutors allege he is the real owner of two luxury properties registered in the names of others. Lula denies the charges.
On March 4, he was briefly detained by police in São Paulo and taken in for “coercive questioning”, along with his wife, Marisa Letícia, and his eldest son, Fábio Luiz. On his release, a highly emotional Lula told supporters he had felt he had been “kidnapped” and questioned why Moro had used such an aggressive tactic when he had repeatedly offered to testify over the case.
That same day he also vented his frustrations to Rousseff, in another phone call that was secretly recorded by investigators and released by Moro to the press on Wednesday evening.
In that recording Lula lambasted Moro’s actions as “an unprecedented firework display”, after Rousseff noted the coincidence of damaging revelations being leaked to the press the day before his detention.
Lula added that the prosecutors in charge of the case “think that with the press leading the investigative process they are going to re-found the republic. We have a totally cowardly supreme court, a totally cowardly high court, a totally cowardly parliament … a speaker of the house who is fucked, a president of the senate who is fucked, I don’t know how many legislators under threat, and everyone thinking that some kind of miracle is going to happen.”
Notably, however, in that same conversation Lula also said “he would never enter government to protect myself”.
Moro’s decision both to record the phone conversations between the former and current President and to release them to the press has come in for severe criticism, even by those appalled by Lula’s decision to join the government.
The judge justified the decision by stating that the conversations were in the public interest. “Democracy in a free society requires that the governed know what their governors are doing, even when they try to act in the dark,” he wrote.
Moro also said he believes Lula had advance warning of the raid on 4 March and may have known his phone was tapped.
The latest revelations will intensify yet further the political polarisation in the country. By midnight on Wednesday there were reports of demonstrations against the government in at least 17 of Brazil’s 26 states.. In Rio de Janeiro, Adriana Balthazar, from the Vem Pra Rua protest movement, told the newspaper Folha de São Paulo that if Rousseff did not resign, there would be further protests. Other opposition activists want to organise a general strike starting next week.
In tense scenes at Thursday’s demonstrations a police cordon establishing a 50 metre gap between the two groups broke down, as anti-government activists broke through the police lines to taunt the other side.
“I came here for free,” they chanted, referring to the widespread allegation that PT supporters are in the pay of the government. “Fascists, fascists,” the government supporters shouted back. Police on horseback moved in on several occasions to restore order as firecrackers exploded and threats were exchanged.
The judge’s decision to to record and release the phone conversations between Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva has come in for criticism.
Photojournalist Karina Zambrana, 26 said she was attending today’s pro-government protests in defence of democracy. “This is a very dangerous moment,” she said. “The major media organizations in Brazil are whipping people into a frenzy so they want war. We don’t want war. We are here for democracy.”
Civil servant Dimitri Silveira, 33, said he was not looking for conflict but that protesters were seeking to provoke government supporters. “We don’t want conflict. We want to defend our democratically-elected president but it seems all of our country’s institutions – the Police, the Judiciary – are against us,” he said.
Anti-government activists, however, have vowed to continue demonstrating until Rousseff leaves office.
“[This government] are robbing us and they have no shame,” Gustavo Bertosi, a 23-year old law student said.Asked whether he thought there was the possibility of conflict between the two sides, he smiled and said yes.
Ernesto Junior, 42, who described himself as a failed businessman, said “I just want what is best for the country. It’s not about right or left. No one can accept what is going on.”
Last Sunday, millions of Brazilians took part in the largest anti-government protests the country has ever seen. A pro-government rally is planned for Friday.
On top of the corruption allegations, Brazil is suffering from its worst recession in at least 25 years, with the economy shrinking 3.8% last year, and the forecast for 2016 similar. More than a million Brazilians protest against ‘horror’ government.
Rousseff is also facing separate impeachment proceedings, accused of illegally using state banks to plug budget deficits. Another case against her, in the supreme electoral court, claims her presidential campaign in 2014 was financed with cash from the Petrobras scandal. Last week, Rousseff insisted to the press she had no intention of resigning.
Brazil’s entire political class is now in the firing line. Opposition politicians who attempted to join Sunday’s anti-government protests were booed and forced to leave. Alongside Lula and Rousseff, Brazil’s vice-president, speaker of the house, president of the senate and main opposition leader have all been accused of involvement in the Petrobras corruption scandal.
Transcript of call between Rousseff and Lula, 16 March
Rousseff: Lula, let me tell you something.
Lula: Tell me, my love.
Rousseff: It’s this, I am sending Messias [Jorge Rodrigo Araújo Messias, Deputy Head of Legal Affairs at the cabinet office] round with the papers, so that we have them, just in case of necessity, that is the terms of office, right?
Lula: Uh-huh. Ok, ok.
Rousseff: That’s all, wait there, he is heading there.
Lula: OK, I’m here. I’ll wait.
Lula: Bye, my love.
March 17, 2016
by The Editorial Board
If you tried to create the ideal moderate Supreme Court nominee in a laboratory, it would be hard to do better than Judge Merrick Garland.
In nominating Judge Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month, President Obama has taken his constitutional duty seriously, choosing a deeply respected federal appellate judge with an outstanding intellect, an impeccable legal record, and the personal admiration of Republicans and Democrats.
And yet, within minutes of Mr. Obama’s announcement in the Rose Garden on Wednesday morning, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, was again outrageously claiming that Mr. Obama made his pick “not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election.”
He again vowed not to hold hearings until after Mr. Obama leaves office. But there is no reason to believe that Mr. McConnell and his party will hold hearings at all. What they have claimed is blanket authority to veto any nominee before hearings or a vote takes place. This is a dangerous new role for the Senate, one that could turn the court into nothing more than a group of black-robed politicians.
Under normal, even routinely partisan, circumstances, Judge Garland would sail through confirmation hearings and be confirmed by the Senate in a matter of months, if not weeks. That was obvious to Senator Orrin Hatch, the senior Republican from Utah who sits on the Judiciary Committee, who in 2010 called Mr. Garland a “consensus nominee” and said there would be “no question” that he would be confirmed to the Supreme Court with bipartisan support.
Just last week, Mr. Hatch repeated his praise, saying that if Mr. Obama wanted a real moderate, he “could easily” name Mr. Garland, but predicted that “he probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election.”
But we are no longer operating in the realm of sense or normality. The Republican Party is staring down the very strong possibility that Donald Trump will be the party’s presidential candidate. And now, its leaders, in a stupendous show of political malfeasance, are putting the Supreme Court’s constitutional duties on hold while they make dishonest claims about “letting the people’s voice be heard.”
There is some irony to the Republican rejection of Judge Garland, a 63-year-old white man, who might be considered too moderate for Democrats hoping that the next justice would have a more liberal legal record. It is a choice that does not bring more diversity the court.
In his 19 years on the bench, Judge Garland has established a solidly centrist voting record that reflects no strong political ideology. He has sided with the government in cases involving habeas corpus petitions from detainees at Guantánamo Bay, and has voted against criminal defendants more often than his liberal colleagues have. He has generally voted in favor of deferring to the considered decisions of federal agencies. In civil rights cases, he has voted in favor of plaintiffs who have claimed rights violations.
None of this matters to Senate Republicans, who have pledged that there will be no hearings, no vote — and with a few exceptions, not even the courtesy of a meeting with Judge Garland. They have said that if he were to appear before the Senate, he would be treated like a “piñata.”
This intransigence is unlikely to win votes for the party in November. Americans strongly oppose the Republican blockade, which is unprecedented in the nation’s history. As Mr. Obama said Wednesday, “I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up-or-down vote.” If they do not, he said, the process of nominating Supreme Court justices — one of the most important jobs of any president — will be “beyond repair.”
Mr. Obama has picked a strong nominee, who won bipartisan support in his confirmation to the appeals court. If the Republicans refuse to accept him, they will face one of two scenarios: a nominee selected by Hillary Clinton, who may well be more liberal, or one chosen by President Donald Trump — a racist, vulgar demagogue who many Republicans have said is unfit to run the country.
February 26, 2016
What President Barack H.Obama is looking for in a Supreme Court nominee:
With the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the President now has a duty to nominate someone to sit on the bench of our nation’s highest court. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution makes that responsibility clear. It’s a responsibility President Obama takes seriously — and one he hopes the Senate will take seriously, too.
February 24, 2016
The Constitution vests in the President the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court. It’s a duty that I take seriously, and one that I will fulfill in the weeks ahead.
It’s also one of the most important decisions that a President will make. Rulings handed down by the Supreme Court directly affect our economy, our security, our rights, and our daily lives.
Needless to say, this isn’t something I take lightly. It’s a decision to which I devote considerable time, deep reflection, careful deliberation, and serious consultation with legal experts, members of both political parties, and people across the political spectrum. And with thanks to SCOTUSblog for allowing me to guest post today, I thought I’d share some spoiler-free insights into what I think about before appointing the person who will be our next Supreme Court Justice.
First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified. He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity. I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.
Second, the person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law. I seek judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand.
But I’m also mindful that there will be cases that reach the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear. There will be cases in which a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment. That’s why the third quality I seek in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook. It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times. That, I believe, is an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.
A sterling record. A deep respect for the judiciary’s role. An understanding of the way the world really works. That’s what I’m considering as I fulfill my constitutional duty to appoint a judge to our highest court. And as Senators prepare to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to consider the person I appoint, I hope they’ll move quickly to debate and then confirm this nominee so that the Court can continue to serve the American people at full strength.