It just doesn’t look right

Partisan Democrats and other Bush-haters will be glad to hear that the DC Circuit has rejected the Bush Administration’s claims of executive privilege over the records of the Cheney energy task force. But friends of the rule of law can’t be cheerful about the fact that it was a 2-1 ruling, with a Clinton appointee and a Carter appointee outvoting a Bush I appointee.

I haven’t a clue as to how the case should have come out as a matter of law, and I suppose it’s possible that all three judges would have ruled the same way if the case had involved, say, the Clinton health task force. But if the apparently party-line vote was merely a coincidence, it was a most unfortunate one.

The case for the proposition that the Senate ought to consider appeals court nominees on their “qualifications” rather than their “ideology” is greatly weakened by instances such as this one.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: