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The NDAA, Obama, Forrest, Stein and Walker

by James Maynard September 19th, 2012 | Winners & Losers
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This was a week where the biggest news stories in politics came from the courts.

The biggest loser of the week on the political front, whether it is obvious or not yet, is President Obama. His administration’s insistence on indefinite detentions for American citizens was dealt a blow on Wednesday the 12th, as Federal Judge Katherine Forrest reaffirmed her May ruling that such detentions are unconstitutional.

The case in question is a lawsuit filed by Noam Chomsky, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and Daniel Ellsberg, best known for releasing the Pentagon papers in 1971.

The contention of the suit is that provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) are so vague that even journalists reporting on news related to the War on Terror or publishing interviews with any adversary of the United States could be arrested and held without trial for as long as the government deemed fit.

In her ruling, Judge Forrest stated that “This Court rejects the Government’s suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention.” She also made clear that constitutional rights cannot be legislated away.

Not only did the Obama administration lose this round of this case, but the way they are pursuing the matter is costing the President significant good will on the political left. The Huffington Post has come out with repeated stories on this case and the response from readers has not been positive towards the president’s policies.

Perhaps as a response to those events, last week saw the second major national poll where Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein ticked in as the choice of 2% of the voters surveyed. This may not seem like a lot, but it is significantly close to the 2.74% that Ralph Nader received as that party’s presidential candidate in 2000.

If she receives more than two percent of the popular vote this election, Dr. Stein is nearly certain to receive a lot of national attention. A razor-close win by Mitt Romney this year, combined with a strong showing from Stein, will have the Green Party candidate portrayed by many media outlets as having played spoiler, costing Obama and the Democrats a win. In this case, the loss by the Democrats could equate to a lot of name recognition for Stein, better preparing her for a follow-up 2016 bid for the Oval Office. This extra bump in the polls makes Jill Stein my choice for this week’s winner in politics.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was on the losing end of his battle for his defining union legislation when Judge Juan Colas of the Dane County Circuit Court ruled several provisions of the law unconstitutional. The court ruled that workers’ free speech rights had been violated, along with their rights of equal protection and association. Walker persevered through his recall election in June, but is another of our losers for the week. Walker is appealing the decision.

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