Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Judicial Activism, Please

George Will :: Columnist
by George Will

WASHINGTON -- "We," said Queen Victoria, employing the royal plural, "are not amused." "We," said the Treasury Department on Tuesday, relishing the royal prerogatives it exercises nowadays, "are gratified that not a single court that reviewed this matter, including the U.S. Supreme, found any fault whatsoever with the handling of this matter by either Chrysler or the U.S. government." Is it lese-majeste to note that Treasury is being misleading?

At issue was the government's rush to push the remnants of Chrysler through bankruptcy and into marriage with Fiat, the Italian company that is now yet another business subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. But as the court said in its order permitting completion of Chrysler's bankruptcy, its refusal to review what lower courts have authorized "is not a decision on the underlying legal issues" and pertains to "this case alone."

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That matters because the more complex and consequential General Motors bankruptcy is not completed, and as a consultant said in an e-mail to Chrysler's then-CEO, Chrysler was a "guinea pig" on which the government tested what it can get away with in GM's bankruptcy, which involves the same issues: Is it lawful to use Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds for this? Does the mistreatment of Chrysler's secured creditors constitute an unconstitutional taking of property?

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