Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bipartisan Bashing

I have said enough about Republicans for the time being and would like to take aim at Democrats over two issues. The first one is opportunistic partisan finger pointing over the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The problems were more a failing of United States emergency response than any party related policies. The bickering between the two only obscured the actual issues that need to be addressed. Although Bush may have been slow to respond, I applaud his stand in taking the blame as head of state and moving on to recovery. The second issue is the appointment of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. I have been quiet so far because I have been exploring the arguments. But there don't seem to be any. I have yet to hear one complaint about his qualifications or views. The only thing I have seen him criticized for is the fact that he is not known well enough. He has had a long career in the judiciary system, and he did not seem to be holding back during his Congressional investigation. Either there is a reason to oppose him, or he should be supported and appointed with minimal fuss. There are a plethora of other issues that are far more deserving of public debate at this point. It's time to move on.


transientforeigner said...

Finger pointing - I agree. A few democrats acted too quickly in placing blame, but then again a few too many republicans rallied to the President to proclaim his innocence of any mishandling. Bush did the right thing on this one and just put the blame on himself.

John Roberts - The best arguments against John Roberts aren't specifically against him, but against the politicization of the nomination process and the structural problems within the Court itself.

The issue most commented on by Senators announcing their opposition to Roberts is "I don't know what he stands for". Many who have voiced support have done so almost apologetically saying they are willing to take a chance. I find it strange that people are willing to take chances with something as important as a Supreme Court Justice, especially a Chief Justice.

I am among that age generation that has not seen a new Supreme Court nomination during my lifetime of political awareness (ie I was alive for Clarence Thomas but I didn't care at the time). The aspect of the process that I find most disturbing, is that it seems expected that nominees are to avoid stating their stance on issues. Why is this? We know how Scalia is going to vote, we usually know what Ginsburg is going to say, how come we don't get to know what a new guy believes? I wanted to see Senators give Roberts hypothetical cases on controversial issues and ask him what he would rule. I would have liked for them to have manipulated variables in those cases or asked Roberts what variables were important in his consideration. At least one Senator tried something like this (Biden) but it was one of those questions Roberts refused to answer.

If the court was ever designed or ever believed to be responsible for issuing definitive rulings on law, then it has failed miserably. The number of 5-4 decisions on landmark cases points to the serious structural problems within the Supreme Court. It also attests to the danger of a new justices with unknown views. This is why qualifications and a "sound legal approach" alone are not enough. All the current Justices passed nomination and were apparantly thought to be qualified yet the number of split decisions that affect the daily life of Americans is astounding.

So my rant and my complaint is not directed so much at John Roberts as it is the system. Democrat Feingold made a statement that represents perfectly the problem of the politicization of the nomination process.

``When my party retakes the White House, there may well be a Democratic John Roberts nominated to the court,''

The votes are coming down to how the Senators approach the nomination process. Those such as Feingold view it as a give and take. A rubber stamp is given as an understanding that the party in the power gets to have its way. Others, Democratic and Republican alike, are approaching it purely based on partisanship. These approaches scare me because they don't scrutinize the nominee, they just seek to ensure a party advantage in the present or in the future. The only apartisan way to go about voting on a candidate is to know what he/she believes, and I have yet to hear a good reason as to why a candidate is not expected to state his or her views on issues of importance (Although I can see why this could be important on issues that have never come before the court and therefore I will acknowledge that in rare cases a pre-announced opinion can lead to a stifling of the market or other legal quandries.)

His nomination seems all but secured and you are probably right in that it is time to move on. I fear my concerns of the system will never be addressed because the parties are both willing to wait for their time so they can promote their agendas. Perhaps I am just to idealistic in hoping for definitive decisions that are capable of straddling party lines.

Sandcastle said...

I won't argue about your problems with the system, but I don't think he should be the martyr of that. Maybe this is a good time to publicize that, but I don't think any one nomination is going to affect the inherent structure of the court.