Novak (novak) wrote,

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Personal--Watching the Roberts Hearings

Well, my internet is back up tonight after the cable and internet being knocked out by the storm. 50,000 or 100,000 lost their electricity after the storm front went through, so I was lucky that that was all I lost. I've been watching the replay of the Roberts hearings tonight on C-SPAN2 (they're in recess-replay at the moment). I missed a good portion with the cable being out, but today's sessions were follow-up, so there's some more detail in what's being discussed that's been interesting.

I guess I thought one thing was worth commenting on here. I've grown more glum in listening to the questioning of Robert particularly in the repeated attempts to get him to comment on what are the most contentious issues in American jurisprudence. I can't imagine that the Democrats or the Republicans on the committee would be so silly as to think that he would really take open positions on matters coming before him, and he has been forced to repeat his declining to do so over and over again. So I have to see that as the kind of political posturing by the Democrats that, yes, I would expect to see by Republicans asking the same kind of inappropriate and pointed questions of a Democratic nominee on the same issues, going for that juicy "gotcha" moment that you can report back to like-minded supporters. I don't want to reduce the entire set of hearings to mere mugging for the cameras and for each Senator's ideological constituency, but there seems to be an awful lot of that going on. Maybe that's far too jaded of me, and that possibility in myself adds to my dismay over the way politics are perceived and presented today, even by me.

What really strikes me is that it seems no one really believes that a judge can actually try to be politically neutral. The judiciary has been criticized for stepping into the role of the legislature. Perhaps that has tended to be more the criticism of Republicans, currently. What strikes me as particularly awful is that it seems everyone in Congress believes it, too. Everyone is acting as if in fact a Justice on the Supreme Court is an unassailable Legislator For Life, and so therefore is overwhelmingly concerned that only "their" people get elected to such all-powerful positions.

I'm not naive. I'm perfectly aware that a person trying to remain neutral still ends up making their decisions "from their point of view" in the end. But I would deeply hope that those we consider for such roles as these are people of such conscience that we can trust them to rise above, or suppress as much as possible, mere naked ideology. What I see in the Senate, certainly in the Interest Lobbies, and even in the people, seems to be a view that the claims of attempted impartiality are merely pro formal ideological claims--a polite, public lie that everyone expects to hear, impatiently bears with, but knows from the depth of their realpolitik is not the case. All is ideology and ideology is all.

Since the personal integrity of the people on the judicial bench is the chief "check" on their power, my fears expressed above are deep fears for the American system. The ignorant and unsubtle polarization of culture and politics seems here particularly dangerous. This example at the head of our government will hardly help people grow beyond a simple-minded "left/right," "liberal/conservative," "all good/all bad" vision of reality.

If we lack the imagination to hope for and look for judges who attempt such integrity, we lack the imagination to believe in the American Experiment itself.
Tags: cultural, legal, personal, political

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