Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Because I really only have one coherent thought per day

Emily Messner discusses the Roberts confirmation hearings in today's WaPo and draws a startling comparison between the current hearings and Scalia's:

"While the debate on Justice Rehnquist took five days, the debate, if it could be called that, on Judge Scalia consumed barely five minutes.
The 50-year-old Court of Appeals judge was praised as thoughtful and fair by several senators, including Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who ... led the opposition to Justice Rehnquist. Senator Kennedy said that although Judge Scalia was a conservative, ''he is clearly in the mainstream.''" (quoting from NY Times, 1986)

Kids, if we have another Scalia on our hands, we're in serious trouble. Thomas + Scalia + Roberts + other bush appointee who's bound to be cast in this mold + Kennedy (who is easily manipulated) = not just a conservative majority, but a core of ideologues who have NO RESPECT for the past 50 years of Supreme Court decisions. Roe v. Wade would be just the beginning. These dudes could have a profound impact on the social and economic makeup of this country.

I will write more on just what I mean by that in future entries (no time, alas). In the meantime, here's the comment I posted to Messner's blog which summarizes why I think Roberts might turn out to be ok after all:

"Here's why the Republicans were wrong about Justice Souter- they liked his conservatism and respect for precedent, but seemed to forget that Supreme Court decisions, particularly with regard to individual rights, have been generally liberal since the 1960's. Thus, adherence to precedent means sticking to the generally progressive trend of the court and not overturning Roe v. Wade or any of the privacy decisions in that family of cases. Scalia and Thomas are the true ideologues- they want to uproot pretty much the entirety of post-war precedent, returning the court to what it was in the beginning of the 20th century, when decisions like LOCHNER threatened to make state and the federal government irrelevant. If Roberts says he has true respect for precedent, then, and means it, we might have another Souter in the court. If he's lying, and he's more of a Scalia/Thomas- well- what can we do?"

Any thoughts? Are we looking at another Souter (probably not, in all honesty)? Another Kennedy/O'Connor (more likely)? Or another Scalia, who stated in a speech a few years ago that he views the law as "the vengeful right arm of God"?


At 8:12 AM, Blogger Lizzie said...

It's hard to know because it's hard to pin down his ideas but it looks to me like Roberts will be more in the mould of O'Connor and Kennedy than a strict constructionist like Rehnquist or Thomas or an outright ideologue like Scalia. If, as he said, he truly accepts Roe v. Wade as established precedent to be respected then this is a good sign, not just for abortion rights but maybe for his vision for the court in general.

I read an article a while ago (can't remember where or exactly when) that we've been asking the wrong questions about Roberts though. This author said that the big social issues we've been focusing on (abortion, gay rights) are less likely to be decided upon or significantly altered by the Supreme Court in the coming years than less divisive but actually more relevant issues, particularly technology issues regarding rights and privacy in the internet age. I don't know if this is true but I thought it was an interesting point (wish I could remember more of it).

Like the new look by the way.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Heather B. said...

I thought I had typed in the wrong URL, I'm liking the new look.

I can't comment on Roberts because it will get me angry and in a terrible mood.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Noisette said...

Thanks, guys. The template is actually screwed up (note the links etc all the way at the bottom of the page). I'll try to fix it when I have more time. I think you're right on all points, Lizzie- he did say he'd respect precedent- but I was startled to read that Scalia had said more or less the same thing during his hearings. And it is indeed the less divisive cases that'll end up having the greatest impact. I was thinking more economic/commerce clause stuff, but I think you're right on with privacy issues.


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