September 29, 2009

It wasn't a coup, but there was a misdelivery

It wasn't a coup
and why our opinion doesn't matter

The highly regarded, non-partisan (US) Library of Congress, after thoroughly analyzing the Honduran constitution, related laws, and the judicial and congressional documents, concluded:

"The Supreme Court of Honduras has constitutional and statutory authority to hear cases against the President of the Republic and many other high officers of the State, to adjudicate and enforce judgments, and to request the assistance of the public forces to enforce its rulings."

The report also decided that "the removal of President Zelaya from the country by the military is in direct violation of the Article 102 of the Constitution, and apparently this action is currently under investigation by the Honduran authorities." More on that in another article.

As a result, US Congressman Aaron Shock released the Library of Congress report to the public and issued a statement which said, in part:

“The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that the removal of former President Zelaya was Constitutional, and we must respect that. It’s unconscionable that our Administration would attempt to force Honduras to violate its own Constitution by cutting off foreign aid.”

It seems a favorite pastime for many to analyze and opine on whether or not Zelaya's removal was constitutional. Everybody has an opinion and is convinced that their opinion is the only correct one and that their legal experts are more authoritative than those of the other side. I can present my case and parade my list of legal experts' opinions just as you can. But it really doesn't matter what we or our chosen experts think.

The thing is...your or my opinion doesn't matter any more than your or my opinion on, say, Roe vs. Wade (the US Supreme Court decision on abortion).

I use this as an example only because it has been such a controversial decision for the past 36 years. Regardless of other legal, personal, medical, or religious opinions on abortion, the only opinion that matters in that case is the US Supreme Court. The majority of the Justices court decided, and now that is the law of the land, for everyone to live with.

Two of those nine justices strongly dissented. Justice White said, "I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgment." Nine of presumably the greatest legal minds of the United States of America could not come to the same conclusion on the appropriateness of the court's decision so it is obvious that mere mortals such as you and I may not be able to agree on that decision.

Various US presidents since then may have agreed or disagreed with the decision, but their opinions don't matter either − and neither did they try to issue a presidential decree to overrule the Supreme Court decision. The opinions of US Congressmen do not matter either because interpreting the constitution is the responsibility of the Supreme Court, not the congress or President, not the citizens, and certain not the UN, OAS, EU, or other countries of the world. So abortion is legal in the USA, even though hundreds of millions of people all over the world strongly disagree.

Similarly, in the case of removing Manuel Zelaya from the office of the President of the Republic of Honduras, the Honduran Supreme Court, based on the Honduran Constitution, decided that there was sufficient grounds to remove him − and not just a majority of the justices but all 15 judges unanimously agreed. There were no dissenting opinions. So, whatever you, I, the UN, OAS, EU, or Hugo Chávez thinks really doesn't matter.

As pointed out in this Forbes article, the OAS is being hypocritical by trying to apply a double standard:

"If the Honduran Constitution was good enough to allow the country to be a member of the OAS in the first place, even with its strict prohibition of multiple presidential terms, then it can not be un-constitutional for the courts and legislature to enforce it according to what it stipulates. OAS and world "diplomats" can't have it both ways, professing their unshakable dedication to constitutions and the rule of law even as they make a hero of a country's No. 1 lawbreaker and press sanctions on a government that enforces its own Constitution as its legal leaders decide, irrespective of whether foreigners approve."

The article discusses the perilous precedent that is being set (not that any country could remove its leader, but that any country cannot) and goes on to state:

"In their own as well as Honduran interests, this is the hour for moderate American nations to take back control of the OAS from the radicals and to accept any resolution that is made by Hondurans for Hondurans."

The author, William Ratliff, concludes:
"The bottom line question is whether the truth, the rule of law, democracy and national sovereignty really mean anything or whether those are just the slogans and manipulative tools of self-aggrandizing politicians and analysts."
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