Thursday, March 27, 2003

"This is a strange situation where you have a broad ruling and no one can appeal it." That from Ann Beeson, an ACLU lawyer representing the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, after the Supreme Court turned down her Constitutional challenge to a provision of the USA Patriot Act. The provision allows the Justice Department's criminal and terrorist investigation units to share information, eliminating the "Chinese wall" that previously separated them. Heather MacDonald makes a convincing case that the separation was irrelevant to civil liberties and detrimental to security.

I can understand Ms. Beeson's frustration, though. When all the dictatorial, undemocratic authorities have refused you, where can you turn? Sure, the citizenry hold ultimate power in a democracy, commanding through their franchise the authorities who made the decision in the first place. Sure, they've consistently shown themselves willing to listen to all sides of the debate on issues such as this one. Sure, they may be the subjects for whom the rights the ACLU holds so dear were intended in the first place. But appeal to them to exercise their legitimate sovereignty? Stoop to participating in the undignified, corrupt democratic process? Try to persuade ordinary people that your point of view is correct? Perish the thought!

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