The big news of course is what is being called a nuanced decision by the Supreme Court on Executive Order 464. What struck me was that news began to circulate at around noon yesterday, and within a few minutes the Palace had a statement -on a decision it technically hadn’t had an opportunity to review, much less properly comment on.Portions of the Executive Order were declared unconstitutional.
As I understand it, the Supreme Court’s decision mandates the following:
1. In terms of the “Question Hour,” which has hardly been used by Congress, the President must approve any appearance by members of the cabinet.
2. For purposes of hearings in aid of legislation, the President can forbid the appearance of heads of department if she asserts and explains that for the heads of department to appear would violate executive privilege or endanger national security. Of course this brings up some interesting possible disputes: not all cabinet members are heads of department, so for non-department heads in the cabinet, can they be required to testify before Congress regardless? Also, the concept of executive privilege has been strengthened by the Court’s decision, even though it’s something vague, not written in the laws, or mentioned in the Constitution.
3. The Court says all other inferior positions, and members of the armed forces, cannot be covered by the Executive Order and therefore, no limits can be imposed by the executive on these officials and government workers appearing before Congress.
4. Some members of Congress are less than satisfied because the decision emphasizes inquiries in aid of legislation but not the oversight powers of Congress, which are even more important.
The decision is definitely a setback for the administration, but leaves room for further fights over interpretation.
In other news:
The Inquirer editorial sums up the Justice Secretary’s recent statement and behavior concerning American servicemen accused of rape: “Loathsome.”
Also, Palace orders implementation of ID system. I’m not against a national ID per se, but the manner in which it is utilized will require vigilance.
My day will be spent in the third and final day of Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace (the blog has comprehensive updates on what was discussed in the various sessions). You can read more in Teeth Maestro, a participant from Pakistan, and PCIJ: session 4 (Great Firewall of China!), and 5 (Sedition, sedition!), and 6 (JV Rufino of Inq7.net explains pressures of the financial kind for online news media), and 7 (Melinda de Jesus’ magnificent remarks).
Spillover from iBlog2 continues from Philippine Commentary and Ellen Tordesillas.
Over the weekend you can catch replays of my interviewing Roby Alampay of SEAPA, Ethan Zuckerman, and the head of Malaysiakini.com, Malaysia’s leading online news source.
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