Tuesday, March 28, 2006

taking the Lily Tomlin prize

"No matter how cynical I get, it's hard to keep up."

Lily Tomlin

I'm going to call it "The Keeping Up" Prize and if I ever get around to creating a statue for winners I'll call them "Lilies."

And todays winners are two US Senators: Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. They filed a brief in a Supreme Court case to which they were not parties, a "friend of the court brief." In this brief they argued that a certain law applied to a case before the court. They claimed that an exchange they had on the floor of the Senate, at the time the bill was passed, made clear to all who would vote on it that this law was meant to apply. Therefore, their brief tells the Supreme Court, the law should apply.


The problem is that this exchange, that supposedly told all Senator what they were voting on, never happened on the floor of Senate. It was inserted in the Congressional Record (as most anything can be). It was a made up conversation (complete with made up interruptions and statements alluding the fact that the speaker's time was expiring). No one on the Senate floor heard it and so the argument that it shows that the intent of people who voted in favor of it was that it was meant to apply to this case before the Supreme Court today shows a complete lack of integrity on the part of the two US Senators involved.

There is plenty of stuff in the record of the actual debate on the Senate floor indicating that many Senators expressed their view that the bill was not intended to apply to this Supreme Court case. In fact, the entire record on the Senate floor indicates that the law as not intended to apply to this case. That's the exact opposite of what Graham and Kyl argue in their brief to the Court, based on their made up conversation that never happened. Since the legislative history of the law was clear that it was not intended to apply to this particular case something had to be made up to argue that it should.

You don't have to be a Quaker to be concerned at this kind of thing. You just have to know right from wrong.

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