September 27, 2002

DAHLIA LITHWICK CALLS JOHN ASHCROFT A LIAR ABOUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT in Slate, but Eugene Volokh finds her analysis to be, ahem, inadequate.

Ashcroft’s position, the article suggests, is so groundless that it’s just patently outside his authority to take.

Well, any position can be made to seem groundless if one simply doesn’t cite some of the strongest arguments in its defense.

I found the piece rather weak myself. Lithwick is capable of great work, but here I think she simply found it impossible to believe that the view she’s critiquing could be true. That view, however, is not as ill-founded as Lithwick’s article makes it appear. Certainly a reading of this article might have cleared up her misconceptions regarding the Miller case. (This piece also points out that Ashcroft’s actions were not as unprecedented or bizarre as Lithwick makes them sound, and refutes the background-check canard while suggesting things that Ashcroft should be criticized for instead).

I hope that the next time Lithwick decides to write about the Second Amendment she’ll research things in a bit more depth.

UPDATE: On the Ashcroft front, Jay Zilber has this to say:

Look. I think John Ashcroft is a uptight prick who has some really mixed-up priorities. But for all the whining that goes on about John Ashcroft in lefty circles, not a single person among them has been arrested and detained for speaking out against the menace of John Ashcroft.

That’s how our democracy works. A small group of people hold office; We The People debate the issues, arrive at some abstract consensus, bend the office-holders to our collective will, and kick them out if they fail to perform to our satisfaction.

On the day this process fails and Ashcroft starts rounding up dissenters without charge or trial, I’ll join my comrades in solidarity, in protest, and — if it comes to it — in Gitmo. In the meantime, Hitch and I have much scarier boogiemen to worry about.


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