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June 07, 1977 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-06-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Nixon was egally above the law

By HARRY F. ROSENTHAL
Outrageous as it may have
sounded to many people, Rich-
ard M. Nixon has historical pre-
cedent for his claim the wand of
the presidency can torn an oth-
erwise illegal act into a legal
one.
In Nixon's view, there are sit-
uations where the best interests
of the country dictate presiden-
tial actions that can't wait for
laws to be passed. "There are
nuances," he told television in-

terviewer David Frost. "Each
case has to be considered on its
merit."
NIXON WAS ARGUING his
right to order burglaries, wire-
taps and other intrusions into
privacy because of threats to na-
tional security or internal peace.
The nation was torn apart ideo-
logically by the Vietnam war, he
said, and dissent was delaying
peace.
He quoted Abraham Lincoln:

lawful if undertaken for the pur-
pose of preserving.the Constitu-
tion and the nation."
It can be argued whether se-
crets aboiit Daniel Ellsberg, as
hidden in his psychiatrist's filing
cabines, compare in import with
the desperate national emergen-
cy that confronted Lincoln.
Nonetheless, the debate over in-
herent presidential power pre- -
dates the founding of the Repub-
lic.

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s which otherwise would THOMAS JEFFERSON had no
nstitutional could become peer in proclaiming the need for
strict interpretation of the Con-
S SS HMAn My NAME! stitution and warning gf the dan-
BEEN! - gers of presidents overstepping
their bounds. .
D . ACTI' SCENE. Yet Jefferson conceded a na-
tional security emergency might
compel a president to act on his
own because "his motives will
be a justification." He said, "To
lose our country by a scrupulous
adhereice to written law would
be to lose the law itself . . . thus
absurdly sacrificing the end to
the means."
John Quincy Adams differen-
tiated between war power and
peace power. Peace power, he
said, "is limited by regulations
and restricted by provisions pre-
scribed within the Constitution
itself. The war power . . . is
strictly constitutional but it
breaks down every barrier so
anxiously erected for the protec-
tion of liberty, of property and
4t of life."
IN HIS BOOK, "The Imperial
Presidency." historian Arthur
Schlesinger notes Adams was
talking about war power of the
national government as a whole,
exercised through and with Con-
gress, not just about presidential
power. But Lincoln, he says, at-
tached that power to tlie presi-
a dent.
Schlesinger says Lincoln "as-
serted the right to proclaim
martial law behind the lines, to
arrest people without warrants,
1 1 to seize property, to suppress
newspapers, to prevent use of
dents at the correspondence, to emancipate
slaves" - all actions previously
the domain of Congress.
In 1952, Harry S. Truman di-
977 rected the seizure of the coun-
try's steel mills, fearing a na-
3552 tionwide strike would cripple de-

livery of miilitary material to
American troops in Korea. Tru-
man explained circumventing
the Fourth Amendment right
against warrantless seizure by
saying, "I feel sure that the
' Constitution does no' require me
to endanger owr national safety
by letting all the steel mills shut
'down."
THAT SET OFF A debate: if.
the president coild seize steel
mills, could he also seize news-
paners and radio stations.
When the seizure went to the
courts, Truman's defense was
that his "inherent and indepen-
dent power" was limited only by
impeachment or by defeat in the
next election. Nixon made a
similar contention in the Frost
interview.
The Supreme Court ruled Tru-
man's steel seizure unconstitu-
tional.
But Nixon's claim, that the
President's approval of an other-
wise illegal act "enables those
who carry it out, to carry it out

without violating a law," may
have some indirect court back-
ing.
FORMER NIXON AIDE John
D. Erlichman claimed t h e
break-in at the office of Ells-
bergs psychiatrist was not un-
lawful because it was "pursuant
to a broad presidential mandate
of power."
The U.S. Court of Appeals re-
jected his claim, but on the
grounds Nixon had not given
express approval for the burg-
lary. The court's opinion seemed
to indicate the president could
delegate such authority.
"The personal authorization of
the president-or of his cabinet
alter ego for these matters, the
attorney general-is necessary
to .. . prevent zealous officials
from misusing the presidential
prerogative," the court held.
And presidential prerogative
is exactly what Nixon was talk-
ing about when he said, "When
the President does it, that means
it is not illegal."

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The Michigat
Edited and managed by Stu
University of Michi
Tuesday, June 7, 1
News Phone: 764-(

Ju es and -olitics:
Aco f ict of itrest
A JUDGE is a judge is a judge-until he (or she) has to
run for election.
Then, the judge becomes a candidate, seeking en-
dorsements, financial backing, and votes. When the dust
of election day settles, the judge is a judge, is a judge, or
at least that's the way it's supposed to be.
Such is not always the case. By forcing judicial can-
didates to political organizations in order to win office,
Michigan law forces politics into the campaigns, and ten-
ure, or State Supreme Court Justices.
In order to insure the impartiality of justices, a new
selection process must be devised.
The solution we favor is the appointment of justices
by a nine-member bipartisan commission of six layper-
sons and three lawyers. There would be no more than five
members of a singje political party on the commission.
The commission would present three nominees to the
governor, who would make the final selection. Near the
end of the first term, the justice would be subject-to a re-
tention vote by the electorate. If defeated, the commissibn
would repeat the process. If -approved, the commission
would submit that justice's name for reappointment.
A painstakingly deliberate process, to be sure: But in
order to extract the politics from the State Supreme
Court, such an alternative is necessary.
The choice is ours: keep the politics at the expense of
judicial impartiality, or promote impartiality at the ex-
pense of politics.

Letters to The Daily

march
To The Daily:
On May 28 in Washington, ap-
proximately 2000 people march-
ed on African Liberation Day.
Responding to the call of the Af-
rican Liheration Day Coalition,
they came from all parts of the
c o u n t r y. Five contingents,
marching four abreast, were or-
ganized-employed workers, the
Soweto Bridage (comprised of
youth and students), foreign stu-
dents, community' people and
members of the Vietnam Veter-
ans Against the War.
The march represented multi-
national unity. Marching through
the predominantly black com-
munity of D.C., the marchers re-
ceived good response from the
people, who lined the route and
watched from porches and win-
dows. After marching through
Washington's business district,
the march wound up in Lafay-
ette Park, right across from the
White House. People chanted
"Carter, Young: You can't hide,
we know you're on the racists'
sile," and "Carter, Young: Bei-
ter start shakin', Today's pig is
tomorrow's bacon" o make sure
the rats in the White House got
our message.

The night before the rally, the
KIK trashed the Coalition's of-
fice, and made threats against
the march. While people were
assembling prior to the mprch,
a handful of Nazis, complete
with uniformls and swastikas,
tried to march through and stir
up trouble, but within seconds
they were fleeing with bloody
noses. These provocations only
reinforced for the marchers that
they must be on the right track
if those whose tool the facists
were getting so uptight.
The. ALDC march was a sig-
nificant event both for the revo-
lutionary movement and for the
creation of a nationwide move-
ment to support the struggle of
the southern African people. In
contrast to the somewhat hazy
focus of the Vietnam War 'pro-
tests, this march (and the move-
ment we are building) was di-
rectly focused at the common
enemy of both the African and
American people-namely, U.S.
imperialism, and on the need to
bring it down,
Among the featured speakers
at the rally were David Sibeko
of the Pan African Congress of
Azania, who flew from Tanzania
to address the rally. In his
speech, he announced the form-

ation of an Azanian Liberation
Army in South Africa. Other
speakers included Vicki Garvin
and David Stone, veterans of
the civil rights movement, and
a speaker from the Revolution-
ary Student Mrigade. Two suli-
darity presentations were made:
members of the VVAW present-
ed fatigues to Sibeko as part of a
campaign to raise material aid
for the freedom fighters, and
tennis shoes donated by mem-
bers of Atlanta's basketball
team were presented to the Rho-
desian-based Zimbabwe African
National Union.
Altogether, 45 people attended
the march from the Detroit and
Ann Arbor area. If you would
like to find out more about the
march, the Brigade is going to
be having a program on Tues-
day, June 7th at 5:3 at the In-
ternational Center (around the
corner from the Michigan Un-
ion). Featured will be a slide
show on southern Africa, slides
and pictures from the demon-
stration and discussion about the
road forward for support work
locally as well as information
about the Bridage itself.
-Revolutionary
Student Brigade

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