Terrible weather today – terrible to be stuck in lab, that is. It’s also terrible weather in the lab, where all the pumps are running, but the A/C is off for some reason, so it’s rather warm and we can’t close up the pump box to suppress the noise (since they’ll overheat). In this atmosphere, I’m continuing the recent torrent of posts. While I’m waiting on a calibration, here’s some linkage. Today’s topic: justice in the United States.

Some of you may remember the arrest of American citizen Jose Padilla a year ago. Word from the Justice Department was that he had been plotting a “dirty bomb” attack, but he has not since been charged with any crime. Instead he has been held as an “enemy combatant” for a year, without access to a lawyer. Why don’t more people care about this? Because he’s a “bad guy”? Because we can trust the Justice Department to do the right thing, and if they do it without transparency or regard for the Constitution it’s for the right reasons? I thought I lived in the land of the free, here. If he’s guilty, charge the bastard and give him a trial like everybody else.

Salon has a piece up about the implications of a Bush appointment to the Supreme Court this term. How does it look for the democratic process if, having been appointed as President by conservatives on the SCOTUS, Bush turns around and appoints a like-minded replacement for one or two of these justices? Not so good, concludes the author, and he suggests that either no one should retire from the court in the next 18 months, or Bush should hold off on an appointment until he has an actual electoral mandate. The piece rightly notes that neither scenario is likely.

And while we’re on the subject of judicial appointments, Bush’s nominee for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, William Pryor, is a real man for the new millennium – if the year were 1003. Echoing a number of other commentators, I have to wonder where they find these guys. And who he’s considering for the next SCOTUS vacancy. If this weren’t such an anti-cloning administration, I’d conjecture that even now they’d be searching for DNA from Joseph McCarthy, or perhaps Torquemada, in order to grow the perfect candidate for a U.S. judgeship.