Foreign Policy

Miers: The Recusal Trap

President Bush’s choice of White House counsel Harriet Miers has prompted much criticism, but his friends miss perhaps the biggest problem with the nomination: the likelihood that if confirmed the new Justice, because of her White House work, will recuse herself in major cases where her vote could prove decisive — notably, war cases. The White House can claim executive privilege and refuse the Senate Miers’s memos written as White House counsel. While executive privilege can be breached in extraordinary circumstances such as a criminal investigation (e.g., Watergate), a routine confirmation hearing fails to surmount that hurdle. Senators can, of course, vote down a nominee who declines, however lawfully, to supply requested information.

But if Senators are prevented from seeing memos they should ask on what actual cases Miers has advised the President. Under federal law, if Ms. Miers is confirmed, and has professionally advised on a matter that subsequently comes before her on the bench, she must recuse herself. Federal law is quite specific here. Title 28 U.S. Code sec. 455 covers recusal of judges, justices, and magistrate judges. Sec, 455 (b)(3) recites one ground for mandatory recusal: “Where [a judge, justice, magistrate judge] has served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, adviser or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.” Sec. 455 (e) adds: “No justice, judge or magistrate judge shall accept from the parties to the proceeding a waiver of any ground for disqualification enumerated in subsection (b).”

One case already is wending its way to the Supreme Court: a July 15 unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, upholding the right of the government to detain and try unlawful combatants without giving detainees rights under the Geneva Conventions. One member of that three-judge panel was Chief Justice Roberts, who must thus recuse himself on appeal to the Supremes.

If Miers also recuses this would deprive the Administration of two votes in a vital case where every vote is needed to prevail. This case is of utmost import, involving how suspects may be interrogated and whether they may be detained without criminal process. Only two votes — Scalia and Thomas — seem likely to affirm; four are very unlikely (Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer); one (Kennedy) is iffy. With Roberts sidelined the O’Connor successor’s vote in this case is essential to reach a 4-4 affirmation on appeal.

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Sovereignty, from Sea to Sea

A SUMMER road trip is an enduring American tradition. Despite today’s high gas prices, it remains an inexpensive way to travel and experience the country beyond the narrow confines of one’s own city. The changes in scenery that unfolded during my 3,000-mile drive from Seattle to Washington, D.C., were wondrous. Even before I left Washington state, I passed through several Read More ›

Former Chairman Featured in Sunday Seattle Times Magazine

This article, published by The Seattle Times, is about John Miller, former chairman of Discovery Institute: During his “missing years,” Miller became involved with the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based conservative-leaning think tank, and headed its board from 2000-2002. The rest of the article can be found here.

U.S. Congress Strikes Back in “Battle of Inchon”

For the past week, unnoticed by much of the American media, South Koreans have been battling in the port city of Inchon over an important American icon in East Asia — General Douglas MacArthur. Inchon is the site of MacArthur’s greatest military masterpiece — a daring amphibious landing in 1950 that decisively turned the tide of the Korean War and Read More ›

Steven Vincent, R.I.P.

Steve Vincent, whom we have long admired, was killed by terrorists yesterday in Basra, Iraq. Bruce Chapman’s Wall Street Journal book review of Vincent’s “In the Red Zone” is cited at the end of the following story from Reuters. Steven Vincent, U.S. art critic who went to war 03 Aug 2005 18:03:38 GMT, Source: Reuters NEW YORK, Aug 3 (Reuters) – Read More ›

Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

New Blog Fills Void in U.S. Media Coverage of Russian Affairs

SEATTLE, JULY 12 – “The mainstream media in the U.S. and Russia do a poor job of reporting on issues that impact U.S. / Russian relations – attributable in part to the limited amount of space in most major newspapers,” said Yuri Mamchur, a Foreign Policy Fellow at Discovery Institute and a Russian national. “So we’ve launched Russiablog to report Read More ›

The Lesson of Gwangju Reverberates Today

The recent news reports from Andijan, Uzbekistan, were troubling. The arrest and trial of local businessmen in the region sparked riots where there had been continuing civil unrest. The government of Islam Karimov, an ostensible U.S. ally in the war on terror, blamed “Islamist” incitement and launched a crackdown on the protests, killing many, possibly hundreds, of civilians. The situation Read More ›

Underrepresented Minorities

May is Asian Pacific American History Month, designated by President George H.W. Bush. So perhaps it is a fitting occasion to bring up one of my pet peeves:

We are not a biracial nation.

Yet, until recently, “America: black and white” had been a common title in discussions about race relations. Hispanics and Asians were often subsumed into a broad-stroke category of “minorities” along with blacks.

Hispanics have gained some attention of late, because of shifting demographics, particularly electoral demographics. President George W. Bush won 44 percent of Hispanic voters in the last election, up 9 percent from 2000. Some Republicans hope that increasing support among Hispanic voters will counter the overwhelming lock the Democrats have on black voters (over 90 percent in most elections).

Asians, however, are still invisible at the national level. So it is no big surprise that many Americans seem to be unaware of a subtle language shift in the racial dialogue. The operating catchphrase today is “URM” — “underrepresented minorities.”

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TVW to Broadcast Discovery Institute Event

This week, TVW will broadcast a taped recording of Commander Steve Bristow’s May 5th discussion of his recent tour of duty on the USS Abraham Lincoln to tsunami-ravaged areas of Indonesia. In the program, Steve recounts behind-the-scenes efforts of the Lincoln Strike Group that assisted victims of the devastating December 26th tsunami. More generally, he discusses the qualities of the Read More ›

Discovery President Backs Bolton

Bruce Chapman, a former US ambassador to the United Nations Organization in Vienna, is among some 100 diplomats and other leaders, endorsing the nomination of John Bolton to the post of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.“I had the pleasure of working with John Bolton in the past and consider him an outstanding public servant who will Read More ›