Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs speaks about Sudan: Full transcript

George W. Bush on Sudan: full article

THE PRESIDENT: I just had an extraordinary conversation with fellow citizens from different faiths, all of who have come to urge our government to continue to focus on saving lives in Sudan. They agree with thousands of our citizens — hundreds of thousands of our citizens — that genocide in Sudan is unacceptable.

 And there will be rallies across our country to send a message to the Sudanese government that the genocide must stop. Those rallies will also be an indication that thousands and hundreds of thousands of our citizens urge the world to unite with the United States in concerted action.

We have got AU troops on the ground; those troops need to be augmented and increased through strong United Nations action. And the United States strongly supports a U.N. resolution to do that. I believe it's important for the United States to be involved, and the best way to be involved with the AU troops is through NATO. I've worked with the Secretary General of NATO and our allies in NATO to provide a firm response to the actions that are taking place on the ground. I want the Sudanese government to understand the United States of America is serious about solving this problem.

I'm proud of our nation's generosity when it comes to aid, and the American people ought to be proud of the taxpayer dollars that have gone to provide much needed aid for those who suffer. But this government must understand that we expect the aid to get to the people and we expect there to be a solution to this problem.

There will be rallies all across the country. And for those of you who are going out to march for justice, you represent the best of our country. We believe every life is precious, every human being is important. And the signal you send to the world is a strong signal, and I welcome your participation. And I want to thank the organizers for being here.

I want to thank this good man right here — he sits here next to his President, and it wasn't all that long ago that he was a slave inside Sudan. He sits here to represent the thousands of lives who have been affected by a government that must honor human rights.

And, Simon, I'm proud to have you here as a fellow American; proud to have you here as a friend.

Thank you all for coming.

Another article from Reuters:

a Jewish Rabbi, and participant in the Marches for Peace in Sudan said of the Rally:

"It is a show of solidarity, given the United States is one of few countries trying to exert pressure. There is momentum right now and the feeling we can influence things," he said.

Condoleezza Rice complained on ABC's that Washington was not getting enough support from some other members of the U.N. Security Council to take more decisive action against Sudan.", frankly, We also do need more support from members of the international community…"

President George W. Bush on Thursday issued an executive order freezing the assets of four Sudanese deemed to have posed a threat to the peace process in Darfur. But demonstrators called on the administration to do more.

Published in: on May 1, 2006 at 1:54 am  Comments (1)  

Casey as Precedent: Upholding South Dakota’s Abortion Ban

 This article can also be found at, or click here for direct link.

 Ever since the decision in Roe v. Wade, legislatures in both the federal and state government have been enacting laws in order to either reduce abortions or eliminate the practice entirely. Part of the reason is the knowledge that the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence is on questionable constitutional foundations. Another reason is that along with abortions questionable constitutional foundations, the right that Roe recognized has had a history of "see-saw … decisions expanding and contracting reproductive rights." For instance, in 1988 Pennsylvania passed a statute that put regulations on abortion, some of which were in open defiance of the Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. Thornburgh held in part that informational requirements were facially unconstitutional as they were "poorly disguised elements of discouragement for the abortion decision." Yet, in 1988, Pennsylvania’s law specified that a woman must give her informed consent prior to the abortion procedure and that she be provided with certain information at least 24 hours before the abortion is performed. The Supreme Court eventually upheld much of Pennsylvania’s law, including the informational requirements that they had just held unconstitutional a few years before in Thornburgh. It is not surprising then that Roe’s constitutional and jurisprudential shortcomings invite legislatures to pass laws which might seem a lost cause in terms of vote counting.

When the Supreme Court heard the challenge to the 1988 Pennsylvania statute in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the first paragraph of the Plurality opinion recognized the phenomenon of the never ending challenges to its abortion jurisprudence. Justices O’Conner, Kennedy, and Souter noted that in the previous decade, the United States had asked the court to overrule Roe five times. The opening sentences of the opinion states "Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt. Yet 19 years after our holding that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy in its early stages … that definition of liberty is still questioned." The plurality viewed this particular case as one which contained a "dimension that the resolution of the normal case does not carry …. The dimension present whenever the Court’s interpretation of the Constitution calls the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution." The Casey Court therefore recognized Roe’s oscillating standards, and attempted to resolve the doubt in order to protect the liberty interest discovered in Roe by calling all sides of the controversy to accept a common mandate rooted in the constitution. History shows the Casey decision did nothing of the sort, and the legal and political battles about the pregnant woman’s ability to end the life of the unborn child continue.

The latest example illustrating the result of the "jurisprudence of doubt" comes in the form of a South Dakota law that bans all abortion except to save the life of the mother. The law states that:

Any person who administers to any pregnant female or who prescribes or procures for any pregnant female any medicine, drug, or substance or uses or employs any instrument or other means with intent thereby to procure an abortion, unless there is appropriate and reasonable medical judgment that performance of an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female, is guilty of a Class 6 felony. S.D. Codified Laws § 22-17-5.1  (2006).

South Dakota’s law is very similar to the Texas law which was found unconstitutional in Roe. Like South Dakota’s law, Texas law exempted from the law "an abortion procured or attempted by medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother." The Roe Court noted that similar statutes were in existence in a majority of the other States at that time. Why would South Dakota pass such a law and what can they expect will come from it?

This article will first explore the rationale that motivated South Dakota to pass a statute in what seems to be in stark opposition to prior Supreme Court precedent. The next section will provide an in depth analysis of the Casey decision in order to determine what, if any, circumstances would have to exist in order to persuade a Supreme Court Justice who previously upheld Roe’s abortion right to find South Dakota’s ban constitutional. The next section applies Casey’s holding to today’s epistemic environment and determines whether "the Court of an earlier day (read Roe and Casey), as its own declarations disclosed, had not been able to perceive" the factual underpinnings or understanding of those facts as we can today. (more…)

Published in: on April 26, 2006 at 6:46 pm  Comments (1)  

Progress in the wrong direction is not Progressive

What happens when persons in society are offended by the very mention of God and the idea that God has made commandments to us which are consistent with the way he ordered creation? Our pride, greed, self-centered lifestyles and belief that our ways are better than God's ways have ramifications.  God gives us autonomy to live life the way we want. As a result, the ordered universe has consequences for our autonomous choice or else the autonomy would not be genuine. God's commands are never arbitrary, but are meant to provide for and protect us from the harm that our freedom could generate. Sin is a corrupting force. It takes that which was created for good and twists it.  When we follow our own way instead of Gods way, the distortions will harm even our lingering desire to do "good."  We lose sight of what is good and celebrate Evil as if it where good.  Many "Progressive" persons have fallen into this trap. Are they moving in a direction? yes. But moving doesn't mean your moving in the correct direction.  Progressive implies going forward from what is in the past. Movement in any direction other than in accordance with Gods plans is in a sense Progressive.  It is moving us in a direction further away from God's perfect creation. To be sure, I am in no way implying that the farther we go back in linear history, the better off we will be (a good old days mentality). But my point is that True Progress can only be obtained if it is in line with the way God ordered the universe, which is evident in nature and in Gods specific revelation.

Published in: on March 15, 2006 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Critique of modern Constitutional avoidance doctrine

Presiding Bishops, Catholic Bishops and the Chess match concerning the Constitutional savings Doctrine of Statutory Interpretation


There are many methods for a court to determine the most likely meaning of a statute. The most likely meaning could be what the text says it is. However, some interpreters may believe a text can be informed by the overall structure of the statute, or that the text can be informed by legislative history. Another approach to the most likely meaning of the statute is what congress’ intent was in drafting the legislation. Sometimes this is embodied by asking for what purpose congress created the statute. Sometimes it involves the court putting themselves in congress’ shoes to see how congress thought about this situation or maybe how they would have decided the situation if they would have thought about it, sometimes labeled an imaginative reconstruction approach. There are numerous other ways of approaching statutory meaning as well.

One thing is for sure, if an interpreter is willing to go beyond the text to find meaning, then the most apparent reading may not be the most likely meaning. This is because things like legislative history or congressional purpose in writing the statute may point to a more likely meaning of the statute that may not be the most apparent. There is much debate about what is appropriate to consider when trying to reach a conclusion on the most likely reading of a statute. To be sure, some interpreters do not place much weight at all on the most likely reading, but instead take a more proactive role and try to determine the best answer or at least pay more attention to the pragmatic consequences of the decision. This article, however, is based on the premise that the goal of statutory interpretation is to find the most likely meaning of the statute.

For purposes of this article, I will not engage in the debate over whether it is valid to look outside the text to see if there is a more likely meaning than the apparent reading. I will assume that it is valid to do so in order to analyze specifically the use of constitutional doubts to inform the most likely meaning.

Of the many ways to determine the most likely meaning of a statute, this article addresses one method which attempts to construe statutes to avoid interpretations that might cause the statute or some applications of the statute to violate the constitution, and replace it with a "fairly possible" meaning. This method is predicated on the notion that congress intends to pass constitutionally valid statutes. This premise may be true in that Congress doesn’t normally have the desire to pass a statute that they know a court will strike down as unconstitutional unless perhaps it is to challenge an existing interpretation. However, even if sometimes true, the fact that the modern avoidance doctrine discussed below is based entirely on this assumption, the evidence against this assumption, the fact that it may be supplanting an otherwise more likely reading of the statute, and other negative consequences of modern avoidance counsel against its use as a general canon of construction.

The first step in cases like these is simply an interpreters’ application of whatever tools that particular interpreter deems valid to determine the meaning of the statute. Constitutional canons are not used until the person interpreting the statute comes to an apparent reading of the statute. This apparent reading, to an interpreter using constitutional canons, may be different from the most likely reading because the most likely reading, to that interpreter, wouldn’t be one which draws constitutional doubt. However, if there is no other "fairly possible" meaning of the statute, then the interpreter will have to assess the constitutionality of the interpretation which draws constitutional doubt. That first meaning, the most apparent reading, may already be informed by things like legislative history, purpose, or other canons of interpretation which caused the statute to have a most likely meaning prior to the application of the constitutional canons that seeks to avoid constitutionally questionable applications. In other words an interpreter may first find an apparent meaning, and then use other canons or methodologies to get to a most likely reading different than the apparent reading. But then, if the interpreter uses a constitutional canon of avoidance, they abandon what otherwise is most likely reading number one, and substitute it for most likely reading two. Therefore, and assuming agreement as to most likely reading one, the constitution canon may supplant the prior most likely reading for one that is further down the scale of possible readings towards the "impossible reading" side of the scale, despite its still being a "fairly possible" meaning.

It is the position of this author that using the assumption that congress does not intend to write unconstitutional statutes, even if true, to justify interpreting the statute differently than the court would have had they not considered the constitutionality question may engage in an illegitimate rewriting of the statute in a way that intrudes on the constitutional authority of Congress. This intrusion may be greater or lesser depending on which savings doctrine the court utilizes and thus not all savings doctrine will cross the line of illegitimate re-writing.

This article will critique the use of modern avoidance as a method of obtaining the most likely meaning of a statute using two different statutes as a vehicle for discussion. (more…)

Published in: on March 15, 2006 at 5:26 am  Comments (3)