This shit has to stop.


Sunday, April 08, 2007
Another Enemy of the People?
Mark Graber

I am posting the below with the permission of Professor Walter F. Murphy,
emeritus of Princeton University. For those who do not know, Professor
Murphy is easily the most distinguished scholar of public law in political
science. His works on both constitutional theory and judicial behavior are
classics in the field. Bluntly, legal scholarship that does not engage
many themes in his book, briefly noted below, Constitutional Democracy,
may be legal, but cannot be said to be scholarship. As interesting, for
present purposes, readers of the book will discover that Murphy is hardly
a conventional political or legal liberal. While he holds some opinions,
most notably on welfare, similar to opinions held on the political left,
he is a sharp critic of ROE V. WADE, and supported the Alito nomination.
Apparently these credentials and others noted below are no longer
sufficient to prevent one from becoming an enemy of the people.

“On 1 March 07, I was scheduled to fly on American Airlines to Newark, NJ,
to attend an academic conference at Princeton University, designed to
focus on my latest scholarly book, Constitutional Democracy, published by
Johns Hopkins University Press this past Thanksgiving.

“When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a
boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed
to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am
not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a
retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant,
was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier
for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve
office, serving for an additional 19 years.

“I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk
for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a
question and offered a frightening comment: ‘Have you been in any peace
marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.’ I explained
that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at
Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush
for his many violations of the Constitution. ‘That’ll do it,’ the man

“After carefully examining my credentials, the clerk asked if he could
take them to TSA officials. I agreed. He returned about ten minutes later
and said I could have a boarding pass, but added: ‘I must warn you,
they’re going to ransack your luggage.’ On my return flight, I had no
problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was ‘lost.’

Airlines do lose a lot of luggage and this ‘loss’ could have been a mere
coincidence. In light of previous events, however, I’m a tad skeptical.

“I confess to having been furious that any American citizen would be
singled out for governmental harassment because he or she criticized any
elected official, Democrat or Republican. That harassment is, in and of
itself, a flagrant violation not only of the First Amendment but also of
our entire scheme of constitutional government. This effort to punish a
critic states my lecture’s argument far more eloquently and forcefully
than I ever could. Further, that an administration headed by two men who
had ‘had other priorities’ than to risk their own lives when their turn to
fight for their country came up, should brand as a threat to the United
States a person who did not run away but stood up and fought for his
country and was wounded in battle, goes beyond the outrageous.
less lethal, it is of the same evil ilk as punishing Ambassador Joseph
Wilson for criticizing Bush’s false claims by ‘outing’ his wife, Valerie
Plaime, thereby putting at risk her life as well as the lives of many
people with whom she had had contact as an agent of the CIA. …

“I have a personal stake here, but so do all Americans who take their
political system seriously. Thus I hope you and your colleagues will take
some positive action to bring the Administration’s conduct to the
attention of a far larger, and more influential, audience than I could
hope to reach.”

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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in Tucson, Arizona with Stephanie Smith.

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