Via James Joyner, this dissection and discussion of the Iraqi constitution at Poliblogger.
Also, the always interesting Dahlia Lithwick has a piece up in Slate that was entertaining:
All this talk of the Iraqi Constitution—or lack thereof—serves as a useful reminder that a country’s constitution is only as useful as the tools that will be used to interpret it later. As the most recent “Justice Sunday” extravaganza illustrates, the majority of the nation seems now to be of the firm belief that there is only one way to view the U.S. Constitution: in the way the framers first intended. Maybe that’s because they are hearing so few principled arguments making any other case.
Although I first read that as “a country’s constitution is only as useful as the tools WHO will interpret it later,” it is still worth a read.
“The idea that, as Brennan wrote, “It is arrogant to pretend that from our vantage we can gauge accurately the intent of the Framers on the application of principle to specific, contemporary questions,” has been rebutted roundly with the notion that it’s even more arrogant for nine unelected officials to gauge anything at all.”
Therein lies the problem: A democracy vetoed by Judges is not too unlike one vetoed by a king or a dictator; and yet the excesses of the majority must be reined in.
Best way to handle it is look at the content of their character and trust that new justices will not succumb too quickly to the Dark Side of their power
Juan Cole has good coverage of this; he can read the Arabic and understands the historical implications. See:
On the AP translation, he comments:
AP’s translation of some articles is online. But frankly it is so untechnical as to be almost useless with regard to some key paragraphs. It leaves out the bit about no legislation contradicting the laws (akham) of Islam. You can’t tell what is going on with regard to personal status law, etc. News organizations ought to hire bilingual lawyers as free-lancers for this sort of task– translating a constitution is a tricky thing and many technical terms can be deceiving, especially if you have technical terms drawn from both civil and religious law!