Janus is looking forward, looking backward

Via Daily Kos:

“If you’re like me, you threw up a little in your mouth when you read that Gonzales criticizes those who ‘apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences.’ And you did so because you’re already too well aware that this ‘administration’ has, if it’s done nothing else (and there’s an argument to be made that it hasn’t), has become the nation’s leading producer of such stretched law.”

Daily Kos and TPMmuckraker has been all over this stuff lately, but the judical branch has been the long term battleground for decades, if not as long as there’s been a US. The Supreme Court and the Pentagon are a continuity prize that seems to get repeatatively forgotten when politics shouts at us to watch the jazz fingers of the republic … and then suddenly remembered after the trick has all ready been performed.

Sacrifice a few pieces as a feint in order to castle …

Commonly the law is thought of a static, but it is a moving thing. Laws are explored in the courts and are made more specific through testing. That means that any law is made more narrow over time as the boundaries are tested. The corollary is that any progressive legal reform will be degraded over time and must be actively supported by the larger culture. The further corollary is that calls to conserve the law as it is are in fact calls to degrade the impact of the law. The law is a living language, not a dead language that speaks only of a bygone golden age. Therefore the law must be, like a dictionary, constantly updated with with common usage and slang in order for it to be relevant and meaningful for current culture.

The law is a record of who we are as a people, and the process of the law is the process of our becoming. If the law is dead, so are we. But, if the law is alive with hope and progress, so are we alive with hope and progress. Moreover, if the law is selfish and manipulative, narrow and mean, so are we as a people.

Update @ 5:05pm:

Another example of this struggle is over at Crooks and Liars’s story: Law School Deans Condemn Pentagon Statement.