This just in on Dick Cheney!
SLevinson at MAIL.LAW.UTEXAS.EDU
Mon Sep 18 16:17:11 PDT 2000
Richard Dougherty writes:
>Could there be another explanation, namely, that there is such evidence,
but that Cheney thinks this is a non-issue as far as the campaign goes....
I don't think there's any doubt that it is a "non-issue" and, perhaps,
properly so, because the "strict constructionist" view of Amendment XII is,
arguably, quite stupid (and it is altogether "necessary and proper" simply
to ignore stupid parts of the Constitution's text). But the reason I am
interested in the issue is for any insight it might throw (and perhaps the
answer is "none") on a far broader question: Under what cirsumtances do
"we," whether as legal academics or members of the wider public, take
constitutional issues seriously, at least giving them the courtesy of
genuine consideration and debate, and under what circumstances do we
dismiss them as basically silly? One might, of course, argue that the
answer is internal to the constitutional issues themselves: I.e., we treat
the inherently serious ones seriously, and the inherently unserious ones
unseriously. But, not surprisingly, I don't find this a winning argument.
I think something else than intrinsic (de)merit explains why certain
debates take off and others remain confined to the backstage.
Consider the attempts by the Bush campaign to get a special counsel
appointed with regard to Gore's phone calls. Even if one assumes he
violated the law (i.e., that there is "controlling legal authority"), it
seems profoundly silly to take the matter at all seriously. There are many
other things that are far more profoundly disquieting about the
Vice-President, including the indifference that he seems to share with the
President toward civil liberties and assuring a fair system of criminal
justice. But, to put it mildly, the Bush campaign has no interest in
raising *that* aspect of Gore and what it might tell us about his
commitment to constitutional values. Instead, a technical violation of a
quite stupid law is deemed to be highly relevant to the Vice President's
capacity to be President. Does that make any more sense than the
discussion of Dick Cheney's good faith claim to be an inhabitant of Wyoming?
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