Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Republican Judicial Arrogance

Oh. My Lord.

Two opinions from the Washington Post caught my eye today. One from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and one from regular Wash Post op-ed columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. One is an example of the Republicans' hypocrisy and the other an example of liberal confidence.

The reason I'm looking for Higher Help today is Sen. Sessions's op-ed, "The Right Person for the Court." No, I'm not kidding. How this freudian slip past by Sessions and his congressional assistants is beyond me. It's clear that the Republicans really, really wish Pres. Obama to nominate someone in the line of Justices Roberts and Alito. But they just can't come out and say that. And even if he does, they're gonna fight tooth and nail against his nominee. But they can't say that, either.

So here's what they say:

But if the president nominates an individual who will allow personal preferences and political views to corrupt his or her decision making, he will put before the public a central question: Are we willing to trade America's heritage of a fair and neutral judiciary -- anchored in the rule of written law that applies equally to all people -- for a high court composed of robed politicians who apply the law differently based on their personal feelings toward a particular person or issue?
As though that's not exactly what W Bush did. And then, to have the unmitigated audacity to say this:

With such high stakes, the American people rightly expect greatness in our highest jurists -- the greatness personified by John Marshall and Felix Frankfurter and anticipated from John Roberts.
Yeah! He sites Justice Roberts as someone with judicial restraint. Meanwhile, Justice Roberts shows every indication of at least really, really hoping Sec 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which, by the way, was just reauthorized 3 years ago, is overturned.

And then, with only the irony of the freudian slipped title, Sessions writes these "necessary" qualifications of the next Supreme Court justice:

-- Impartiality. The nominee should demonstrate an ability to fulfill the oath to "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich," regardless of the judge's personal feelings toward the parties in the case or the political groups to which they belong.
. . .
-- Legal Expertise and Judicial Temperament. The nominee should demonstrate a mastery of the law, an ability to apply the law to complex facts, and the skill to craft plain and enduring opinions that lower courts, lawyers and the people can understand. The nominee must also demonstrate the humility necessary to be subordinate to the law that he or she will interpret. Great justices recognize the limits of their own power and defer to the wisdom of the people, effectuated through elected representatives and expressed in the written law.
It's almost enough to make you sick on the stomach. "Heurrr!" (My attempt at articulating that sound people make just before they get sick. You know, so just imagion in your head.)

Here's the thing, or, at least, my thing. We're we told just a few years ago that "if a president's picks were formally qualified and intelligent -- and both Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito were -- that should be enough?" My problem with the two wasn't their intelligence (Though, in my opinion, Alito doesn't look all that bright, but looks can be deceiving.). No. My problem was that they had tried to re-write the law as lawyers in the Reagan administration and would undoubtedly try to do and have done the same on the Court. Don't get me wrong. I understand that part of political differences is having opposite understandings of the Constitution. Liberals think it applies to everyone equally; and, conservatives think the Founding Fathers would only benefit rich, white, men/corporations. I understand that. But let's not pretend conservatives haven't been "judical activists" , as they were in the Ledbetter case; and hope to undo judicial precedence, as in a woman's right to privacy. Let's not pretend they're anything but partial.

Now. While I do think Sessions is a blithering racist hypocrit who would attack Pres. Obama for sleeping on the left side of the bed if he could, I do agree with him on this:

The Senate's examination of the nominee's impartiality, integrity, legal expertise and respect for the rule of law will be rigorous and fair. Senators should refrain from making political attacks on the nominee's character, leaking background materials or taking quotes out of context to create a caricature of the nominee.
Though, now that he's said it, I find it least likely that he'll actually live up to his own standard.

On the other side of things, I do agree with Dionne that "liberals should welcome a real debate -- and win it. But this means that such matters as a nominee's sexual preference should not be a consideration and that an authentic debate would involve ideas, not slogans -- notably "judicial activism," "legislating from the bench" and "strict constructionism."" How this would work with conservatives glibly throwing around such slogans and making personal attacks every which way. I certainly don't know if or how Democrats could make use of the kindness principle. But they shouldn't be unprepared for a fight.

Cause with a blithering racist hypocrit like Session leading up the 'publican challenge, you know one's coming.

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But Don't Jack My Genuis