23 June 2010

And the law is irrelevant, of course

If a judge blocks a moratorium on off-shore drilling it presents a set of simple legal questions:

(1) Does the President of the United States have the Constitutional authority to stop off-shore drilling? (And, if so, in which article or amendment are we to look for this authority?)
(2) If the POTUS does have this authority, then under what circumstances is he legally authorized to do so?
(3) Do the circumstances under which the present moratorium was placed meet the Constitutional criteria?

Judge Martin Feldman has blocked the moratorium, asserting that it fails legal muster. Thus far the media are more concerned with Judge Feldman's oil holdings rather than the legal questions presented. In this article, Michael Kunzelman is pleased to inform us that "Feldman's financial disclosure report for 2008...shows holdings in at least eight petroleum companies or funds that invest in them, including Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig...." Kunzelman is kind enought to go on to report that it is not clear "whether Feldman still has any of the energy industry stocks."

I'm sure Kunzelman thinks he's a brilliant guy, but the fact is his sub silentio argument is that Feldman's argument is one he holds only because he probably owns oil stock. But this sort of reasoning, if it can be called reasoning, is logically fallacious. Specifically, it is called a Bulverism. It's the "You assert P because you are a Q" sort of argument, meaning, tacitly, of course, that P is false. Kunzelman writes nothing -- and I mean nothing -- about any legal argument the judge may have had. Pathetic.

Note: Judge Feldman's ruling simply "prohibits federal officials from enforcing the moratorium until a trial is held." A trial? What a travesty of justice! Oh! But wait! What's this?

No person shall be...deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law....

I think that's in the Constitution somewhere. I could be wrong. But I'm not.

This moratorium constitutes the deprivation of the liberty of oil companies to engage in their business. Due process of law? A trial? With a jury sitting as finder of fact? Good heavens! What next? Rule of law?

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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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