Wednesday, July 20, 2005

John G. Who?

There are reasons to celebrate and reasons for concern. Judge Roberts is obviously qualified and doesn't strike anybody as a hack like several others on the short list. He's argued against abortion rights and flag burning and in favor of prayer at public school graduations. He's 0 for 3 there (by both my count and that of the Supreme Court), but he argued all of those cases while working for the first Bush administration. Then again, he wouldn't've taken the job had he not agreed with most of their positions.

Ultimately, it's now up to the Senate to figure out what he really thinks. Beyond that, we can only hope that the infamous "french-fry case" is mentioned as much as possible.

You might be wondering what other people think about Judge Roberts. Well, here's what some editorial boards have had to say:

Justice O'Connor has gone on record about Judge Roberts's nomination in this article in the Spokesman-Review.

Most importantly, however, one should note that Ann Coulter opposes Judge Roberts. That's almost enough to make him alright in my book.

The most frightening thing about Judge Roberts — worse than his views on abortion rights or the seperation between church and state — is a few words from Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the "french-fry case."

Judge Roberts wrote the opinion of the court in that unanimous ruling. In it, the court declared that it was not an "unreasonable" seizure under the Fourth Amendment for a 12-year-old girl to be taken away in cuffs for eating a single french fry in a D.C. Metro station. The girl had broken the law, and the law stated that minors breaking that law must be arrested. Nothing unreasonable there yet (except for the law itself, of course, but that's the legislative branch's fault).

But Judge Roberts didn't stop there. He then went on to say that that mandatory arrest policy was constitutional because it wouldn't have been "regarded as an unlawful search or seizure under the common law when the Amendment was framed." In case you didn't know, that would be in the year 1791.

That sounds suspiciously to me like Judge Bork's "original intent" theory of jurisprudence that was his undoing in the Senate after his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Reagan.

Constitutional law cannot be frozen as it was in the eighteenth century. Any kid who's had a class in civics knows that the beauty of the Constitution lies in its flexibility. It is a breathing, living document readily able to take on situations and cases the Framers could never have imagined.

If Judge Roberts believes we should roll back the clock on Constitutional law over 200 years, then abortion rights will be among the least of our worries, for he'll have eliminated all federal law on worker's rights and the environment and more important issues than you can fathom.

If not, though, then he'll be a good man for the job, much better than several others on the short list. Then, Democrats can only sit back and hope for Judge Roberts to be another Justice Souter.


Post a Comment

<< Home