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6/2/09

Peekaboo Justice


Blind Faith or Blind Citizens?

Almost every President gets the chance to select at least one Supreme Court Justice. And much can be learned about their philosophy of governance by who they pick, so all things considered it’s a good thing on balance. The current President has purposefully chosen his words about what he values in regards to the manner of changing the Constitution to reflect his vision for America in the 21st century. If you missed his buzz-word “empathy” or somehow misconstrued what he meant by it, you might need to reconsider the De-Caf choice.

No matter how the issues get clouded or the personalities get scrutinized there is only one fundamental question that is of any real lasting importance. How that question is answered reveals one of the most fundamental differences between left and right, Republican and Democrat. (or others of us who disagree with both on one issue or the other)

The question is,
Does the Constitution of the US exist as a hard and fast set of rules designed to restrain the baser instincts of the governors and the governed by delegating power and responsibilities among them or is it merely an ever-evolving set of guidelines that can be changed on a whim without regard to the democratic process?

Almost everyone pretends to embrace that process until they cannot get something they desire using it. And even the politicians who agreed to limit themselves at the outset began to look for “work-arounds” almost immediately.

It’s tempting to refer back to the document itself to ascertain whether or not it was meant to be strictly adhered to, but that is like proving the authenticity of the Bible by quoting scripture. That temptation should be avoided so focus can instead be on the intention of those who proposed and adopted it.

Even the people who detest the concept of one set of rules for everyone have never attempted in any meaningful way to declare that the whole thing was just an exercise in philosophy and never meant to be actual law.

I have always found the argument that the Constitution is a “living” document to be amusing because of the perverse way it has been presented. As if the carefully worded, precise method laid out within the constitution for amending itself was meant as alternate means of changing it in the odd event that the justices themselves didn’t rearrange it according to their personal preferences.

So while the questions about new proposed appointees to the court are politically entertaining in some ways, they are usually irrelevant to the fundamental issue. Whether or not the next justice is a racist, a socialist, is clever or dimwitted, has proper judicial temperament, is black, white, male, female, of a certain ethnic group or has a compelling personal story is totally irrelevant to any thoughtful US citizen. The only thing that matters to those citizens is whether or nor the person chosen will enforce the laws as written or make them up as they go along according to circumstance or preference.

I’m not suggesting that a person who disdains the constitution as it exists or the process by which it can be amended is not a thoughtful citizen, only that they prove their thoughtful credentials, even if only to themselves, by showing their support for the appointee who reflects their view of the fundamental point without pretending it is because of the side issues mentioned above. As in the past, people who have sought to defend the Constitution or undermine it have proved to be thoughtful indeed. It is honesty and clarity of purpose I value on this fundamental issue.

It is my belief that justice should be blind, but the people ought not be.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In a related story, there's a homeless man who comes into the library nearly everyday. He is a very articulate, Berkley-educated man who asks me very involved questions on supreme court cases (both current and historic) and other matters regarding national politics or influential thinkers. This man is very knowledgeable about the political process and frequently travels to D.C. for whatever-and-ever this-and-that. He tell me a lot of things "for my benefit," all of which is in one ear and out the other. He suffers dillusions that I care about why he is looking for the information he requests. My coworkers think I'm too nice -- I let him gab on and on if there aren't any patrons waiting in line.

Anyhow, I always knew something was askance. For all his intelli-talk about government, math equations, or Dvorak, he still didn't have "a dime to his name." He seems to be involved in some court cases of his own, but something always begged the question, "What are you doing here?"

So finally a coworker asked him what all of this is for. Apparently there's a dangerous conspiracy that boils down to the American Revolution. Not only are today's strict constitutionalists actually British spies that have infiltrated today's institutes of higher learning (especially Berkley), but the British actually won the revolution. Why wasn't this covered in school?

Paranoia and delusions of grandeur aside, this man thinks I'm a genius. He's not comfortable with computers, so when I am able to pull up the exact date a Nobel prize was announced to the public via Google, he'll exclaim, "You got it! I knew it! You're the only person who can get to all this. Gosh darnit, you hit the nail on the head."

Erica thinks that I should, for the fun of it, say that I'm a strict constitutionalist and accidentally slip in a British accent every few words. I decided that it's best not to, considering that this man, despite being charming and pleasant (if not smelly), has openly admitted that he's "not a nice man."

I'll keep a low librarian profile. (Is there any other kind?)

Silverback Trader said...

Well, he is right about one thing, you are a genius. It's genetic.
And as far as the man is concerned, check the parking lot very carefully when you are coming and going. Anyone who admits without being asked that they "are not a nice man" is almost certainly telling the truth in that regard.

Brian Jennings said...

President Ochamberlain has crossed Israel recently by condoning Iran's nuclear "research", confronting Israel's settlements in the West Bank and being receptive to Palestinian statehood. For these transgressions he shall recieve his walking papers in 4 years time, despite what the NYT and MSNNC will have us believe. Four years and out. For more on the power of AIPAC see, "The Israel Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy" by Mearsheimer & Walt. No US president has ever acquiesced and rolled over in response to any Muslim strong man's expressed desire to aquire nukes. Empathetic Female Judge Mexican replaces Souter. Souter was as bad as Ginsberg. The empathetic one could not be worse. The real q is can Roberts/Scalia/Thomas/Alito hang tough untill the renegade is sent back to Illinois.

Silverback Trader said...

I agree that no net move in the "legislation from jurists" direction will result from whomever is put on the bench this time around. Those being replaced were just more stealthy about thier proclivities. My only desire is for people to recognise their own expectations for the Constitution and have them match the candidates they elect. In that way there will be less weeping and gnashing of teeth if/when we lose our freedom and heritage. In the end, there is no blaming politicians, right now, our future is ours for better or for worse.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're right. Fortunately for me, I could definitely strong arm him in a physical battle. Besides this, he's always in plain view (even sometimes in a foldout chair on the lawn). Ne'ertheless, all of the librarians walk out at the same time for safety's sake.

I'm moreso concerned about his assertions. We could be surrounded by "bizarro world" human-vampire hybrids who have been around for centuries just spying on those who interpret the constitution like Sotomayor.