On the plus side, the New York Times chose to write a story about the opposition former Clinton administration official Harold Koh is facing from conservatives over his appointment as State Department legal adviser. Unfortunately the NYT then completely ignored Koh’s most controversial legal beliefs in support of legal transnationalism. As National Review’s Ed Whelan explains, transnationalism is not an epithet created by conservatives, it is how Koh describes his own beliefs.
Also at National Review, Andy McCarthy explains why the fight over Koh’s nomination matters:
This is an argument about policy, not personality, honesty, or qualifications. The mainstream media did not vet President Obama. His transnational progressive positions were not scrutinized — and even though the president is even now on an important trip, crafting new global regulatory arrangements with other heads of state, we still have not gotten anything approximating an examination of Obama’s views. Bluntly, the public has been better informed about Gov. Sarah Palin’s handling of the Alaska State Police than about their President’s fondness for international redistribution of wealth, international treaties, and the transfer of national sovereignty to transnational bureaucracies and tribunals.
Events like the Koh nomination are the only opportunity we have to highlight and generate push-back on these positions.
The germane question is: In the course of that deep involvement, what views has he developed and what positions has he taken? It’s inevitable that the State Department and the administration will soon be confronted with questions like, “What will be the effect on our national security if we push ratification of the Law of Sea Treaty — which provides for disputes to be resolved by a mini-U.N. with its own mini-World Court?” I would think most people take as a given that Dean Koh, as an accomplished international law scholar, is steeped in the relevant issues. The only thing that matters is where he stands on them and what advice he is likely to give.
There is value in principled opposition. It is not about whether Dean Koh has great integrity (he does) and is a highly accomplished scholar (he is). It’s not even just about whether he gets confirmed. It’s about using one of the few avenues available to us to examine a crucial set of issues and influence policy.