Metropolitik: Turn around and spread ’em, Democrats

President Obama has received a surprising amount of policy support from the majority conservative Supreme Court.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/GETTY IMAGES

A funny thing happened this week while the left and right were busy trading barbs over the president’s handling of the Obamacare case at the Supreme Court. Though perhaps funny isn’t really the best way to describe it. We don’t know, what do you think? Is it funny that the Obama Department of Justice fought for, and won, the legal right for prison officials to strip-search anyone arrested for even the most minor offenses?

The answer to that question probably depends on whether you’re the one doing the searching — or the spreading.

You’d heard about the instantly infamous strip-search ruling, had you? We’ll bet you didn’t realize that President Obama was at least partially to blame for it, though. The conservative court voted 5-4 along ideological lines in the decision, but the government has the power to sway that ruling. And in this case, it urged it.

The New York Times, in its article on the topic Monday, didn’t waste a single word on this minor detail. (Though they did say this: “The procedures endorsed by the majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities.” Could that be interpreted to suggest that the Obama DOJ actually opposed rather than supported the issue? We think so.) The Daily Show similarly dropped that ball Tuesday night, aiming fair cynicism at both the president and his rivals over the judicial review flap — Obama suggested the court would be out of bounds in overturning a Congressionally approved law; it wouldn’t be — and even touching on the strip-search decision, but completely failing to mention the fact that the Obama administration lobbied for it!

Many people were understandably dismayed by this invasive ruling. With some 13 million people arrested in the U.S. each year, that’s a whole lot of unnecessary embarrassment for such hardened criminals as dog-leash law violators, minor drug offenders and peaceful protesters. (And we’re sure it’s not necessary to point out that minorities will be the overwhelming victims of this new federal overreach.)

So there was some outrage, sure. But it didn’t come close to approaching that surrounding Obama’s poorly thought out comments on the court. Conservatives have spent the past couple weeks arguing that the president’s health care law represents a gross governmental tyranny in that it forces a small number of people to buy into a health insurance system that they’ll most likely be entering at one point or another anyway. Considering their feelings on big government, surely they’d be upset over this new interpretation of the law? But no: The right-wing mind set would nearly always trade individual liberty in the name of preventing the most unlikely of risks. (Previously, courts had ruled that prison officials must have a reasonable suspicion that a detainee might be harboring contraband.)

And Democrats? Mum.

It bears repeating: The two-party system is terribly destructive for both sides of the aisle. As civil rights lawyer Stephen Bergstein points out: “This position would probably be identical to that advanced by a Republican presidential administration.” If you listen to the right, our president is the most radical leftist ever born. As we’ve been saying for some time, that’s simply, unfortunately, not true. 

The my-side blindness that leads to lefties ignoring failures of leadership under Democrats, and conservatives to disregard Republican transgressions, means we get the worst of both ideologies regardless of who’s in charge. Under the Obama presidency, we’ve seen that with a continuation and even reinvigoration of Bush/Cheney-era rollbacks in civil liberties.

Follow Brayden Simms on Twitter @metropolitik

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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