Glenn Greenwald: "unconstitutional actions…can't be justified because of the allegedly good results they produce"


I was all set to write a blog post drawing similarities to the liberal ends-justify-the-means laments for Citizens United v. FEC and the conservative ends-justify-the-means laments of various judicial checks on executive-branch power to detain whoever the hell indefinitely, but then Salon's Glenn Greenwald beat me to it. Forward this one to your liberal pals. Excerpt:

One of the central lessons of the Bush era should have been that illegal or unconstitutional actions—warrantless eavesdropping, torture, unilateral Presidential programs—can't be justified because of the allegedly good results they produce (Protecting us from the Terrorists).  The "rule of law" means we faithfully apply it in ways that produce outcomes we like and outcomes we don't like.  Denouncing court rulings because they invalidate laws one likes is what the Right often does (see how they reflexively and immediately protest every state court ruling invaliding opposite-sex-only marriage laws without bothering to even read about the binding precedents), and that behavior is irrational in the extreme.  If the Constitution or other laws bar the government action in question, then that's the end of the inquiry; whether those actions produce good results is really not germane.  Thus, those who want to object to the Court's ruling need to do so on First Amendment grounds.  Except to the extent that some constitutional rights give way to so-called "compelling state interests," that the Court's decision will produce "bad results" is not really an argument.

Whole thing here. Link courtesy of Ray Eckhart.