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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
1/24/6 - Beyond Baby Killing 
24th-Jan-2006 10:19 pm
mathnet - to cogitate and to solve
A casual observer new to American politics could be mistaken for assuming that the Supreme Court is an organization whose duty and purpose consists almost solely in setting rules and regulations regarding abortion.

People on both the left and the right get excited about individual cases for anywhere between a week and a month or two. But when new justices are considered and discussed, abortion dominates the discussion.

Abortion is an important issue, and one which will come before the court many more times. However, it is far from the only issue worthy of concern and discussion. The Court will doubtlessly take up cases of sweeping importance on issues ranging from the scope of powers of the executive branch to boundary conditions on the Bill of Rights. Yet most of the pundits, the news editors, and the interest groups don't try to engender discussion on those issues. Do they think people don't care about the constitution? Did people not learn the Bill of Rights in school? Or do people stop paying attention to politics if fetuses are not involved?

Lots of Democrats seemed to support Harriet Miers because she wasn't an ultra-right conservative. Aside from seeming rather politically jaded, this is very concerning. It seemed to me that the biggest problem with Miers as a potential Supreme was that she didn't seem to know anything about constitutional law. The second biggest problem was that she's the current president's personal lawyer, which means she would be in a position to decide the constitutionality of policies she'd advised the president to enact.

I wasn't able to follow the Alito hearings while I was in Utah. So I was rather disappointed when I listened to NPR this evening and learned that "All Things" was really just "Abortion Politics."
25th-Jan-2006 01:29 pm (UTC)
Most people who watched Alito's hearing got the impression that it was very very boring. He dodged all interesting questions as much as possible saying "But you know I am not going to have an opinion on a case that may come before me" or something to that effect and told boring stories that were supposed to make people laugh but were really boring. Cause for concern is that in the past he has supported giving the feds a lot of power. A talking point of the left was that he did not excuse himself from the case involving Vanguard when he had at least $400k in Vanguard funds. (Vanguard won.) He has been a federal judge longer than most anyone who has ever been appointed to the Supreme Court. If he does turn out to be most like Scalia, his rulings will not be based on some over-arching judicial philosophy but on choosing a judicial philosophy that most helps him judge in favor of his personal views.
25th-Jan-2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
The "I won't say what I think because that might come before the court" maneuver really bothers me. It is the nature of the Supreme Court that almost any issue could come before it. Roberts said he only wanted to talk about judicial principles, but the Court could well hear a case in which the applicability of a judicial principle is at question. Those issues which cannot come before the Supreme Court are the ones on which a justice's views are essentially non-interesting.
25th-Jan-2006 05:31 pm (UTC) - Abortion is the ultimate political poem
Abortion works on so many levels! There's something for everyone.

For the mass of society, the teeming, reality-show and E! watching, Hamburger-Helper consuming flock of the American Public, there's the juicy, highly visual, gossip-worthy literalism. Incest-raped 12 year olds pregnant, with nowhere to turn! Or tiny, naked babies, torn to bloody shreds. If it bleeds, it leads! This is good stuff. It's like Jerry Springer, only you get to say "Supreme Court" and "Alito" and sound like an authoritative and responsible citizen instead of a pathetic couch potato.

For those who love argument for the sake of argument, we have the brilliant side-step, the semantic game playing, the endless debate about what is and isn't relevant and why we should only discuss the irrelevant things, the spin, the sound byte, the diverting stories, the roar of the grease-paint and the smell of the crowd.

On a higher level, there's the moral vs. the civil. I confess my personal leanings when I say that pro-choice (and the implied "anti-choice") is more accurate than pro-life (and the implied "anti-life"). I am not pro-abortion. I'm not pro-mastectomy nor pro-colonoscopy nor pro-chemotherapy. But when these things are medically advisable (and that is always debatable anyway; science is no refuge for those who hate uncertainty), there must be a choice. This is a civil argument. Conversely, I am not anti-life. I'm pro-living and living-things in general, most of the time, but with some caveats. After all, hamburger stops a beating heart, too. Bacteria are alive, yet I never saw a pro-lifer picketing a pharmacy for selling penicillin. My point here is that choice is a civil question, while life is a moral question, so by phrasing it this way (somewhat fictitiously on both sides), we ask intelligent but not extraordinary people to choose whether freedom or morality is more important to them. This is a timeless dilemma, and the pendulum seems to swing between generations. 'Makes for great drama.

And finally, on the essential level, regardless of what is right and what is wrong, what is foolish and what is prudent, what is honest and what is deceptive...perhaps regardless even of the consequences to one's own soul, the question is: how much is a government justified in regulating the lives of individuals? This is abortion and gay marriage and war and international commerce and child abuse and prayer in school and taxes and affirmative action. It is the very essence of all big judicial issues. Maybe we could help here and here. Maybe we know better. But it is a dangerous thing to say "yes, I take it upon myself to take the choices out of your hands and place them in mine." What we are talking about here is finding an individual who has the hubris to step up to the hard issues where intervention is justified and do what is right no matter how unpopular or even dissonant with his or her own preferences; and the humility to step away from those issues where, however desperately it is needed, and however unpopular the choice may be, government simply has no business claiming authority.

Abortion is the red cape; that bright spot of focus that says, "Come on. I dare you. Don't you care?" An animal charges; a leader walks away. 'Sounds a lot easier than it is. That's why I care about the abortion question.
25th-Jan-2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
Lots of Democrats seemed to support Harriet Miers because she wasn't an ultra-right conservative. Aside from seeming rather politically jaded, this is very concerning. It seemed to me that the biggest problem with Miers as a potential Supreme was that she didn't seem to know anything about constitutional law.

Oh the irony... guess who agrees with you 100%?

The only sexism involved in the Miers nomination is the administration's claim that once they decided they wanted a woman, Miers was the best they could do. Let me just say, if the top male lawyer in the country is John Roberts and the top female lawyer is Harriet Miers, we may as well stop allowing girls to go to law school.

There are more important things in life than being Supreme Court material, but — oddly enough — not when we're talking about an appointment to the Supreme Court. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Arlen Specter defended Miers on the grounds that "Miers' professional qualifications are excellent, but she lacks experience in constitutional law" (and Specter would know). This is like recommending a plumber by saying, "He's a very professional guy, but he lacks experience in plumbing."

"Does this Law Degree make my Resume look fat." By Ann Coulter

Politics and strange bedfellows indeed...
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