To deliver a lecture named for Bob Kastenmeier' is an honor I greatly prize. He was one of the truly outstanding members of the House of Representatives, who fought for all of us against constant pressures to shortcut the fair procedures that protect our freedom. Representative Kastenmeier and I have something in common: He was a member of the House for thirty-two years; I was a New York Times columnist for thirty-two years. I am not going to press that coincidence too far. Newspaper columnists have the illusion that they are going to change the world, but in their saner moments they recognize that, with rare exceptions, it is only an illusion. Bob Kastenmeier did change the world: the world of U.S. law. In a time of government excesses in such things as the war on crime, he worked to make the government play by the rules. And I have to tell you, sadly, that it made a great difference when he left. Congress quickly passed a law ravaging federal habeas corpus, the writ that enables state prisoners to challenge the lawfulness of their convictions and sentences in federal courts.' We missed Bob Kastenmeier, and we still do.
Our civil liberties are under challenge today, a profound challenge. It comes from a series of actions by the Bush administration that, together, assert overweening power in the President of the United States.
Symposium Issue: Civil Liberties in a Time of Terror: Address