Excuse Me, Justice Ginsburg, but Your Politics are Showing<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has announced that while she does not like being the only female on the Court, just "any woman will not do" to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Apparently merely being appointed for life with authority to declare what is and is not law in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />America is not enough anymore; sitting Supreme Court Justices should now be allowed to dictate who will become future Justices, as well.
Justice Ginsburg fumed, "I have a list of highly qualified women, but the president has not consulted me." How dare him! I expect the White House will hasten to correct this obvious slight, and promptly place a call to Queen -- er, Justice -- Ginsburg, asking forgiveness and begging her to fax her short list right away.
Justice Ginsburg was kind enough to give us some insight into what she thinks important in a nominee. She would exclude those "who would not advance human rights or women's rights." By parity of reason, then, she would support a nominee who would "advance" women's rights. How's that for a political agenda?
The Senate Judiciary Committee's Democrats just finished giving Judge John Roberts the third degree in hours of grueling questioning, suggesting he had a secret agenda in wanting to become the next Chief Justice. But Judge Roberts responded that he wanted only one thing, to uphold the rule of law.
What a contrast: Justice Ginsburg has openly declared that she seeks to pursue her own private political agenda, "women's rights" chief among them, while Judge Roberts has said repeatedly that he has no agenda other than to apply the law. The difference here could not be more starkly defined, nor the ramifications more significant.
Senator Feingold, one of three Democrats to vote for Judge Roberts in committee, stated his primary reason was that Judge Roberts "will not bring an ideological agenda to the position." He went on to say that in his opinion, "anyone who sits on that court must not have a preset agenda" (Justice Ginsburg excluded, of course). Similarly, Senator Kohl said he supported Roberts because Roberts had assured him that "his personal views about issues did not matter" and he would be "a modest judge;" an umpire, not a pitcher or a manager.
Not surprisingly, the Democrats who voted against Roberts in committee also focused on the issue of agendas, only they concluded that Roberts did have an agenda, albeit a hidden one. Because it did not align with their own, they voted against him. Senator Hillary Clinton, who was not on the committee but nevertheless thought the public entitled to her opinion, issued a statement echoing Justice Ginsburg, saying that because she questioned whether Judge Roberts would "be steadfast in protecting . . . women's rights," she will vote against him.
These statements by the various Democrats reflect a uniformity of analysis, in spite of the variety of conclusions about Judge Roberts. The analytical framework by which a Senate Democrat determines support for a judicial nominee is simply whether he supports, with sufficient zeal, the political agenda of the Democratic party. If not, it matters not how much prior experience the nominee has as a judge, nor how distinguished his career has been; he is just not acceptable.
This is a most unsettling state of affairs. Judge Roberts is correct to say that his personal opinions should not matter. As a judge, he is required to interpret and apply the law without regard to personal agendas. Justice Ginsburg pooh-pooh's that standard, and boasts of her political agenda. The silence of the Democrats in the wake of Justice Ginsburg's statements is deafening, but entirely consistent: an agenda is fine for a judge, so long as it is their agenda.
The implications of this position are enormous. How can we males, who after all had no say in being given a "Y" chromosome, expect a fair hearing from Justice Ginsburg when pitted against a female, especially if the case implicates a "women's rights" issue? For that matter, how can we be sure her votes on other cases, even those not directly touching upon any of her hot button issues, are not secretly cast with an eye to a future case advancing her private agenda? In short, how can we trust her to uphold the rule of law?
Equally important, what does the Democrats' one-sided litmus test tell us about the next nomination battle? It would certainly appear that they will vehemently oppose any nominee who holds private views antithetical to their own, no matter how strongly or how often the nominee assures them he or she will not let those private views dictate their judicial actions.
Politics, it seems, has poisoned the process.
We must not allow the pursuit of a political agenda to destroy our judicial system. While every judge, as every citizen, is entitled to a private opinion on the issues of the day, those opinions must remain private. Justice Ginsburg has improperly allowed her politics to spill over into her professional duties. Let's put that genie back into the bottle, and return to the rule of law.
Mr. Crampton serves as Chief Counsel of the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy (CLP), a public interest-type law firm. The CLP=s web site is www.afa.net/clp. Mr. Crampton=s daily radio show, AWe Hold These Truths,@ can be heard on almost 200 radio stations nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Worldview Weekend Foundation
PO BOX 1690
Collierville, TN, 38027 USA