A Shift in the Supreme Court
By Eric Umansky
Today leads with and others front the Supreme
Court's 5-4 decision that prosecutors don't have to
exclude evidence that police got via unconstitutional
searches where they didn't knock before entering a
home. The New York Times, Wall Street
Journal's world-wide newsbox, Los Angeles
Times, and Washington Post all lead
with the full-throated Iraq debates in the House and
Senate that centered around, at least in the House's
case, a basically bogus bill.
the Post puts it, the Supremes' decision
"broke with the court's modern tradition of enforcing
constitutional limitations on police investigations"
by excluding illegally obtained evidence. USAT
says the decision "undercuts a nearly century-old
Scalia wrote the majority opinion and said the "social
cost" of potentially letting criminals go free
was too high a price to pay for the oh-so-silly "right
not to be intruded upon in one's nightclothes."
Instead, he suggested no-knock searches be dealt with
through lawsuits and administrative punishments.
Justice Breyer was not impressed. "The majority's
'substantial social costs' argument is an argument
against the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary principle
itself," he wrote in dissent. "And it is
an argument that this Court, until now, has consistently
notes that former Justice O'Connor was still on the
clock when the case was first argued, and she worried
about respecting the "the sanctity of the home."
The justices were deadlocked after she left. So, the
case was reargued last month. That's when newbie Justice
Alito sided with the now-majority.
the significance of the SCOTUS switcheroo—and
the Kabuki-ness of the congressional debates—TP
is surprised only USAT leads with the former.
More surprising: The NYT doesn't even front
it. In about a month, or even a week, which will look
like the more significant story?
House and Senate war debates were, as the Post
puts it, "carefully engineered by the Republicans
in charge." There was real debate; what there
wasn't was the possibility of any substantive upshot.
Senate bill—actually based on a resolution by
Sen. Kerry—called for troops to leave Iraq by
the end of the year. It was tabled by a vote of 93
to 6. The House resolution, which hasn't been voted
on yet, inveighs against an "arbitrary date for
but not all, on the other side of the aisle lack the
will to win," said Republican Rep. Charlie Norwood
of Georgia. "The American people need to know
precisely who they are. It is time to stand up and
vote. Is it Al Qaeda, or is it America?"
House is scheduled to vote on the resolution today.
Neither it nor the Senate one can be amended.
WP fronts an interview with Iraq's deputy
justice minister, who said the country's jails are
virtually controlled by Shiite militiamen who torture
and execute Sunnis. "Our jails are infiltrated
by the militias from top to bottom, from Basra to
Baghdad," he said. The official asked the U.S.
to not transfer prisoners from American to Iraqi control.
"You can't even talk to the militias, because
they are the government," he said. "They
have ministers on their side." The official is
Kurdish and isn't part of the Interior Ministry, where
the militias are running free.
NYT alone fronts American officials saying
they've ID'd Zarqawi's successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri,
an Egyptian who, and this could be key, is supposedly
tight with fellow Egyptian and al-Qaida No. 2 man,
Ayman al-Zawahiri. If that's all true, it could be
a harbinger of a bigger change for foreign jihadists
in Iraq. As the NYT notes, in a letter last year,
Zawahiri castigated Zarqawi for going after Shiites.
there's still the "if it's true" part. One
well-regarded—and widely quoted—counterterrorism
researcher said the Pentagon may have ID'd the wrong
guy; he spoke with some government analysts who agree.
the New York Sun reported two days ago that
U.S. commanders had recently concluded that Zarqawi's
influence was waning (though of course that could
have been part of the recent PR effort to knock him
Post stuffs word that Iraqi Prime Minister
Maliki backed away from talk of an amnesty for insurgents
who've attacked U.S. troops. Maliki accepted the resignation
of the aide who had floated the idea. A second aide,
though, seemed to suggest it was still on the table.
Yesterday's WP led with the proposed amnesty.
fronts the tens of thousands of low-income seniors
who, forced to change from Medicaid to Medicare under
the new drug plan, are still facing a monthlong gap
of the papers front Bill Gates announcing he's going
to move away from day-to-day involvement in Microsoft
by July 2008.
NYT's op-ed page has the latest installment
of the "The State of Iraq," which lists
assorted indicators for the country. "There's
ways to determine whether or not this government's
plans are succeeding," said President Bush the
other day. "We agree," said the op-ed authors.
"Unfortunately, according to our latest tally
of metrics (compiled from a variety of government
and news media sources), Iraq has a long way to go.
... Overall, it is increasingly hard to describe Iraq
as a glass half-full." In fairness, the metrics
can't account for the latest news: Zarqawi, and probably
more important, a new government.
Headline of the Day Award ... Congrats to the Journal:
"STUDIO HOPES HISPANICS FIND 'NACHO' TASTY."
Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's
Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.