Here is a quote from a recent piece by syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman: “But if that reverence [of John Roberts] for the court is more than boilerplate patriotism, it comes with a responsibility to be truly open at Senate hearings.” Here is a quote from syndicated columnist David Broder: “…Roberts has led a sheltered life…clearly reveres the institutions of this democracy. But it is less clear how he views the role of the courts in securing justice for the citizens. The human dimension [italics added] is something Justice Sandra Day O’Connor provided, as the only member of the court who had served in elective office.”
These are the elitist pundits who, looking down from their lofty perches of intellectual superiority, deign to inform the great unwashed, who may not know what “openness” is or recognize the pitfalls and minefields that obviously are lethal for one who, notwithstanding having held other jobs in government as well as arguing 39 cases before the Supreme Court and…well…being 50 years old and an appellate court judge, is the victim of probable mediocrity accruing to the curse of a “sheltered life.” These people put out this stuff and wonder why the public has practically no respect for newspapers and newspaper people.
Goodman says IF Roberts has reverence for the court, another way of saying, “Hey, look out, a judicial piano is about to fall on your head because the judge’s patriotism is false and (HORRORS) he therefore will not be open with the saintly senators.” Make that truly open, as Goodman would have it, though one wonders what the difference is between open and truly open. When is a door open as opposed to truly open? Sheesh! What constitutes being open…or…okay…truly open in a Senate hearing? Here is the primary dictionary definition of open: having no enclosing or confining barrier; accessible on all or nearly all sides. Here is the main definition of truly: often used as an intensive…or interjectionally to express astonishment or doubt. Does Goodman mean that Roberts must be astonishingly oblivious to confining barriers, or must he be doubtfully accessible on all sides? Well…who knows? It’s doubtful that Goodman knows, but, after all, “truly open” just has such a nice ring to it. What rubbish!
Goodman also said that trust in the Supreme Court is eroding. So, will Roberts arrest this oxidizing of the judicial or will he give the rusting some rapidity? Apparently she blames this trust deficit on 5-4 decisions, so she should be happy in contemplating that now there may be more 6-3 decisions, thus reinstating trust in SCOTUS. She even recalled the SCOTUS decision of Bush vs. Gore in 2000 as not helping the court’s reputation, and therein lies the point of reference for her truly meandering screed. She, like Broder, has never gotten over the SCOTUS decision to nix the illegal efforts of the Florida Supreme Court to steal the election for Gore. Disgusting!
So Broder says Roberts has led a sheltered life. Imagine that. Broder, who never has to make the life-and-death decisions that a judge is often called upon to make believes that a man who has had to make vital decisions affecting the welfare of people is somehow “sheltered.” Who could be more sheltered than a columnist who can write anything he likes – even if it’s libelous, with respect to people in the public eye – and whose words don’t mean squat as far as the life and limb of anyone else are affected? When Roberts has put his name to his words, however, he has taken full responsibility for life-changing decisions. Before that, he has made decisions regarding governance, whether in a bureaucratic capacity or arguing a case before the court. Broder should apologize.
Broder says that Roberts actually clearly reveres the institutions of democracy. One wonders if he has consulted with Goodman about this. She seemed a bit doubtful about that, considering what if is, as Slick Willie might have it. But Broder opines that it is less clear how Roberts views the role of the courts. Broder, of course, has never sat as a judge or even practiced before a judge or handed down a decision…well…maybe he’s been on a jury at one time or another. Perhaps this is what makes him more clear than Roberts about the court. After all, how could he know that Roberts is less clear without having something against which to measure him – voila!: Broder, the dispenser of judicial wisdom.
Broder says that O’Connor brought the human dimension to the court, meaning, of course, that Roberts will lack that quality. How does he know that? Why…because she had held elective office before SCOTUS, and Roberts hasn’t. Good grief! Holding elective office might be ample reason enough to disqualify a nominee to the court, the political process – as opposed to the judicial – being what it is…sometimes not very pretty and sometimes even ugly, and sometimes just plain corrupt, such as right now. Broder gives himself away here, just as Goodman did with her allusion to 2000. The magic term for Broder and MoveOn.org and Goodman and their ilk is swing vote, as exercised by O’Connor…in a very humane way, of course, sort of like a platoon leader taking a vote among the troops before going into action. What rubbish!
The term “swing vote” is bandied about as an accolade when, actually, it could be downright disparaging when applied to a jurist. The swing voter is sometimes thought of as one who discovers the way the wind is blowing and then heads in that direction. Or, the swing voter is one whose emotions might be different this week from what they were last week and might be next week (the human dimension, maybe, as Broder would have it?). In other words, a swing voter could be someone who has not made up her/his mind about basic propositions. This has to do not with the “sometimes dissent” but with the “pattern of waffling.” It is not complimentary. The court needs someone who has made up his/her mind about the basics and then sticks with that philosophy.
In Watergate, the telling phrase was “follow the money.” In elitist punditry of the kind remarked herein, the trick is to follow the balderdash. In each case, the actual objective is achieved when the raison d’etre is discovered.