DEFENDING ASHCROFT

David Tell blasts John Ashcroft’s Lazy Critics. He notes that, while the ACLU and others have filed lots of lawsuits,

With fewer exceptions than you can count on the fingers of one hand, the Justice Department has prevailed in every such lawsuit–there’ve been dozens–since the World Trade Center was destroyed. This most recent decision has occasioned a fair bit of agonized hair-pulling in certain circles, which is also what usually happens. Rapidly growing bald, the American Civil Liberties Union, for example, one of roughly two dozen plaintiffs in the latest case, calls the D.C. Circuit’s majority opinion “unprecedented” and “odious.”

He then criticizes the critics fro being “crackpots,” hyperbolic, and absurd. And, surely, many fall into that camp. But the mere fact that the courts have been reluctant to enjoin the DOJ from taking excessive steps in a laudable effort–trying to ensure that 9/11 remains sui generis– does not mean that Ashcroft and company have not trampled on some liberties.

Amusingly, though, public outcry always tends to focus on executive branch officials when, generally, they are just enforcing the laws passed by the legislature. People who hate the PATRIOT Act shouldn’t blame John Ashcroft; they should blame the Congress that wrote and passed it and the president who signed it. Ashcroft is doing his job, albeit zealously and in rather hamhandedly in terms of public relations.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.