Thursday, September 15, 2005
The grilling and fellating (alternately) of Mr. John Roberts
Joseph Biden is a jerk. An asshole. Kind of a bastard.
There. I said it.
And John Roberts -- believe it or not -- seems O.K. to me. At least, not as bad as I had expected.
My main complaints are 1.) he speaks primarily in legalese, and tries to pretend that his own views will never enter into his decision-making process (a laudable goal, perhaps, but impossible); and 2.) his refusal to answer questions simply because "that's an issue that could come before the court" strikes me as hollow. Not only because almost ANY issue could come before the court, but because Roberts SELECTS which cases he feels might come before the court, and thus pleads the 5th.
You can practically predict which questions he's going to answer, and which ones he's going to stonewall on.
I have mixed feelings about abortion. But Roberts seems insincere and inconsistent to me when he insists that he will follow precedents first and foremost, and yet insists that he can't comment on abortion because it's likely to come before the Supreme Court. Whatever one thinks about abortion law, the right to privacy, etc.; the fact is that Roe has been upheld so many times by so many courts that the precedent has been set, and it is not at all likely to come before the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, he DOES choose to talk about the government's right of "eminent domain" -- taking private property to use for the public good -- even though an important case dealing with this was JUST DECIDED.
The most interesting and revealing discussion took place when Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) directly asked Roberts about abortion -- whether he thought the "unborn child" was a person or property (a false dilemma, but we'll leave that aside for the moment). Roberts would not comment -- and that's fine. But what I want to point out is the hypocrisy of the right. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) tried to make an analogy between Roe vs. Wade and Plessy vs. Fergusson -- pointing out that although Plessy was established law with 100 years of precedent, it was then overturned and everyone is glad about it. He then questioned this notion that just because Roe is established law with so many precedents behind it, that we shouldn't consider overturning it.
O.K. You want to talk about abortion? Fine. You want to discuss whether or not a right to privacy exists in the Constitution and, if so, does it override the right of the foetus to exist . . . fine. I have absolutely no problem with any of that. But let's put this absurd cliche to rest about "judicial activism," can we? Because Brownback's argument PRECISELY calls for judges to use their authority to overrule laws they find unjust in order to advance social progress -- or perhaps (which is far worse) to advance his own personal moral values.
Chairman Specter, thankfully, pointed out that if you're going to take a "strict constructionist" approach -- seeking only to determine the original intent of a law -- then the Equal Protection Clause SHOULD NOT have been applied to black people, since the law was enacted during a time of segregation.
The other most interesting/important question that I've heard raised (and not answered, by the way) was: since Congress has the power to declare war, does Congress have the power to end a war?