It’s quite rare for those of us at Bad Attitudes to praise anyone from the current crop of conservatives. Although one can see from the links on the sidebar here that conservatives of another generation are highly thought of here, Albert Jay Nock in particular and my own personal favorite, H.L. Mencken.
It’s probably unprecedented that we would praise a member of the Federalist Society here, but I’m going to award someone a Bad Attitudes Online Medal of Freedom, which coming from this site, is indeed an honor, notwithstanding that many of those medals given by a certain government official who stands at the pinnacle of power, but not for long, are considered by many in this country to be Medals of Shame.
However, Justice Richard Sanders of the Washington State Supreme Court deserves more than just praise and thus I’m going to give him the first Bad Attitudes Medal of Freedom for his principles in standing firm in his belief in the Constitution of the United States of America, and who obviously does not regard it, as some others do, as just a scrap of paper. The Washington State Olympian newspaper has the full story and Scott Horton, a legal scholar of immense talent and ethics who blogs at my favorite legal blog, Harper’s No Comment briefly details the events leading up to Robert Mukasey’s recent fainting spell.
Scott blogs for his Thanksgiving blessings, giving special thanks to honorable men like Justice Richard Sanders. As far as I know, Justice Sanders is no relation to Ben Franklin’s alter-ego of almost the same name, or at least I believe it to be so, although Richard Saunders, sometimes known as Poor Richard, was also known to give excellent advice to others even when they often didn’t want to hear what he had to say. Without further ado, here’s a portion of the post from Scott Horton’s blog:
Thomas Jefferson called the heavy-handed, fear-mongering rule of the Federalists from 1798 through 1800 a “tyranny,” and when friends protested, he explained why this term was correct notwithstanding the fact that the Federalists had taken power through the ballot box. They were, he said, tyrannical in their dismissive attitudes towards the liberties of the people, in their use of crass fear to retain and strengthen their grip on power and in their contempt for the dignity of the ordinary human being, something that a genuine democrat recognizes even in the least and most frail members of our species. He was right to use the term “tyranny” with respect to what the Federalists did.
And I am thankful to Richard Sanders, a long-time member of the Federalist Society and a justice of the Washington Supreme Court. As Michael Mukasey stood at the lectern of the society’s annual meeting and delivered a speech saluting the role played by latter-day Federalists in crafting a legal doctrine for the war on terror — a doctrine that included the use of torture as a presidential prerogative, and granting the president the right at his unreviewable whim to hold people in permanent confinement without ever bringing charges against them — Sanders rose and filled the hall with his voice. “Tyrant! You are a tyrant!” he shouted.
Mukasey paused, stunned by the outbreak, and minutes later he slumped to the floor — suffering from what was fortunately no more than a bout of fatigue. No, Sanders acknowledged, Mukasey himself is not a tyrant — he clearly has been the best of Bush’s three attorneys general (which is of course not much) — but the practices that Mukasey was extolling are tyrannical practices. Indeed, these practices — confinement without charge and denial of the writ of habeas corpus — were condemned as such before, by James Madison, whose silhouette appears, ironically, on the logo of the Federalist Society, and by Edmund Burke, to whose political philosophy many of these latter day Federalists purport to adhere, and whose Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol can be read today as a condemnation of Guantánamo and everything it stands for.
Sanders was right. He upheld values that others in the room had surrendered in the interest of political expedience. In 1800, the Federalist war stratagem caused a severe political setback to the party, ultimately leading to its political extinction. And in 2008, as in 2006, the same phenomenon has occurred in an America which has grown weary of hate and fear-mongering and anxious for hope and a revival of confidence in the American Idea.
I concur strongly with Mr. Horton. It is men like Justice Richard Sanders who are the true patriots amongst us, those who dare to speak truth to power. And I am amazed that our mainstream media has failed to let our people know about this story and the heroic actions of Richard Sanders, although we’ve known for some time that most of our press have no idea of what speaking truth to power means nor do they have any intention of letting the public know about all the abuses that have been committed in our name, at least not at this time.
One can only hope that eventually that time will come. In the meantime, be thankful that there are men like Richard Sanders, who are not afraid to confront those who would have no qualms about destorying our sacred Constitution. The torch of Lady Liberty still burns despite the efforts of evil men to put it out.