Why does Ruth Bader Ginsburg like the South African constitution so much?

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is taking some heat from conservative blogs for this recent interview with Egypt's Al-Hayat TV, (skip to 9:30) in which she suggests that the U.S. constitution might not be the best model for post-revolutionary Egypt. Here's a summary from ABC:

Asked by the English-speaking interviewer whether she thought Egypt should use the Constitutions of other countries as a model, Ginsburg said Egyptians should be “aided by all Constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World War II.”

“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a Constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the Constitution of South Africa,” says Ginsburg, whom President Clinton nominated to the court in 1993. “That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. … It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the U.S. Constitution.”

Ginsburg, who spent her career before taking the bench advocating for gender equality, praised the U.S. Constitution and the founders, saying, “we were just tremendously fortunate in the U.S. that the men that met in Philadelphia were very wise.” But “it’s true that they were lacking one thing, that is there were no women as part of the Constitutional Convention, but there were women around who sparked the idea.”

Ginsburg said “we are still forming the more perfect union” and noted that “when the Constitution was new in the 1780s, we still had slavery in the U.S.”

But, she added, ”The genius of the Constitution, I think, is that it has this notion of who composes ‘We the people’. It has expanded and expanded over the years so now it includes people who were left out in the beginning. Native Americans were left out, certainly people held in human bondage, women, and people that were new comers to our shores. “

The backlash is pretty predictable, (Hot Air's Allahpundit quips that "I’m actually sort of charmed that a left-wing jurist thinks it matters much what’s written in a nation’s constitution.") and falls into a larger debate on the court's about whether it's appropriate for American jurists to look to other countries' laws for precedent. Ginsburg's job security is pretty solid, so the fallout of this incident is likely to be pretty minimal, though I could see it as a future applause line on the campaign trail. But Ginsburg's comments also raise the question of what exactly is so great about South Africa's constitution. 

What makes the post-apartheid document, which came into effect in 1997, so unique, is its inclusion of positive rights. In addition to freedom from discrimination -- including on the basis of sexual orientation, disability or religion -- and freedom of speech, under chapter two of the constitution, South Africans have the right to "make decisions concerning reproduction," "form a political party," or "form and join a trade union."

Even more notable, the constitutions requires the state to enact policies that minimize inequality:

The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.

It also stipulates that citizens have the right to housing and adequate healthcare. 

Needless to say, the South African state is often in violation of many of these goals, but the argument for the constitution is that it gives citizens legal recourse to demand government action on  economic matters. It's also the case that a constitution that essentially includes an explicit guarantee of abortion rights, mandates government-provided healthcare, and encourages income redistribution, is something of a Tea Party dystopia. 

Ginsburg is not alone in her admiration of the South African model. Cass Sunstein, the legal scholar who current runs the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has called it ''the most admirable constitution in the history of the world.'" Though given Sunstein's own reputation among Tea Partiers, I'm guessing we won't hear him speaking up on Ginsburg's behalf during an election year. 


Syrians trawl through hacked emails of Bashar's presidential aides

Move over, WikiLeaks: There's a new sheriff in town.

The shadowy hacker collective Anonymous struck again late Sunday evening, exposing the email accounts of top aides to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and posting the passwords online for all to see (most of them were -- literally -- "12345").

Expatriate Syrians pounced, gleefully delving through this treasure trove and pulling out newsworthy gems (some even joked about sending replies from the accounts, for example, "Curse your soul, Hafez"). There were few smoking guns, but one email, from U.N.-based press aide Sheherazad Jaafari to Damascus-based press aide Luna Chebel, was particularly interesting. It advises the presidential office on how to best handle Assad's Dec. 7 interview with ABC's Barbara Walters. If this is the quality of staff work Bashar al-Assad is getting... well, it explains a lot:

Hello dear,

Please let me know if you need anything else.
Barbara will be here on the 2nd and the interview will be on the 4th because she is leaving on the 6th so that would give you some time to do the editing.

Thank you.

After doing a major research on the American Media's coverage on the Syrian issue and the American Society's perspective of what is happening on the Syrian ground, I have concluded some important points that might be helpful for the preparation of the upcoming interview with Barbara Walters.

I based my research on online articles written about the Syrian issue, my personal contacts with the American journalists, my father and Syrian expatriates in the States.

The Major points and dimensions that has been mentioned a lot in the American media are:

The Violence:
* The idea of violence has been one of the major subjects brought up in every article. They use the phrases "the Syrian government is killing its own people", "Tanks have been used in many cities", "airplanes have been used to suppress the peaceful demonstrations" and "Security forces are criminals and bloody".

· Bloodshed is another subject brought up in the American media. There is no mention of how many "soldiers and security forces have been killed". They think that bloodshed is done by the government to attack the "innocent civilians" and "peaceful demonstrators". Mentioning "armed groups" in the interview is extremely important and we can use "American and British articles" to prove that there are "armed gangs".

· The American audience doesn't really care about reforms. They won't understand it and they are not interested to do so. Thus, a brief mention of the reforms done in the past couple of months is more than enough.
· It is very important to mention the huge economical and political transformation that Syria has gone through in the last 11 years. Somehow, there needs to be a clarification that reform started since H.E took the office.

· It is hugely important and worth mentioning that "mistakes" have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized "police force". American Psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are "mistakes" done and now we are "fixing it". Its worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by police men, police dogs and beatings.

Torture Policy:
"Syria doesn't have a policy to torture people" unlike the USA, where there are courses and schools that specializes in teaching police men and officers how to torture criminals and "outlaws". For instace, "the electric chair and killing through injecting an overdose amount of medicine"...etc.
*We can use Abu Ghraib in Iraq as an example.

The Comments:
· The comments that follow any article in the American Media are a very important tool to use in the interview. The Americans now believe that their government has failed two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are asking their government to stop interfering in other countries businesses and sovereignty and to start taking care of the American internal issues.

Obama popularity's decline and incline through the past 3 years:
· It is worth mentioning that when Obama asked H.E to step down he himself have had a 70% decrease of his popularity in the States.
· It would be worth mentioning how your personality has been attacked and praised in the last decade according to the media. At one point H.E was viewed as a hero and in other times H.E was the "bad guy". Americans love these kinds of things and get convinced by it.

Facebook and You tube:
This is very important to the American mindset. The fact that Facebook and youtube are open now-especially during the crises- is important.

The International media:
· We should mention that in the first month the international media was allowed in Syria. Both al Jazeera and al Arabia's offices were open but when they started to manipulate what is happening and "make up facts", the Syrian government became more cautious about who will enter the country.

10) Civil war in Syria and the neighboring countries:
We can use Noland and Hillary's statements encouraging armed groups to not give up their weapons as a "clear" way of asking for a civil war in Syria.

11) The opposition:
* a brief mention of the opposition "figures". Syria doesn't have an opposition leader with a "ready" agenda; they are all from the previous generation. The opposition was asked to meet by the Syrian government but most of them refused to attend.

Key Points:
The government's crackdown, the bloody regime, civil war, security forces and violence, Tanks, you tube torture clips, Pres. Assad IGNORES the bloodshed and the "help" of other countries and the Arab League", Army defectors, Robert Fords return to the US for "Security reasons", Syria is an authoritarian government.

The Broadcasting hours and channels:
· The interview will be broadcast across ABC News platforms - including World News, Good Morning America, This Week, ABC Radio, a full edition of Nightline, and full-length treatment across the digital space (for ABC News this now includes Yahoo as well - which means you can reach as many as 100 million people. ABC News and Yahoo recently joined forces - which is another reason why so many people now bring their interviews to us).

The exact dates/times for all these broadcasts depends on when the interview is done.

This is all ABC News - every platform. The entire interview would run on ABC News Digital; "Nightline" will devote an entire broadcast; "World News" at least one night, maybe two; "Good Morning America" a segment; "This Week" a segment. And so on.

Thanks to Fadi Mqayed for the pointer.