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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Latest Excuse For People To Go Nutty

They (the mysterious 'they') say that education is the great equalizer. If that is true then a corollary must exist and I believe it is this: politics is the great stupidizer. Yes I just made up the word 'stupidizer' for I can't think of a real word that adequately conveys the meaning I want to project.

Over the past 20 years I've become convinced the politicalization of our society makes people stupid. Even highly intelligent people tend to get shrill and knee-jerky as soon as politics enters the equation. If somehow it isn't a political situation then someone will figure out HOW to make it a political situation. Case in point: some people are proclaiming how Batman Begins is a great example of libertarian ideas and also of turning proletariat stereotypes upside down by having a rich billionaire fight crime. Batman Begins is a KICKASS movie (one I HIGHLY recommend), but it is still only a movie folks. You might be reading a little too much into the story. I'm just sayin'.

This politicalization only gets worse when you're dealing with a process that has a true political element involved. Case in point: President Bush has nominated D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts to fill Justice O'Connor's vacancy on the Supreme Court. I hear someone blowing the ram's horn now to rally the troops on both sides of the Conservative/Liberal gulf. My InBox is filling with requests for my support already. What do we know about Judge Roberts? Not a whole hell of a lot! Yet a quick glance at the more liberal side of the blogosphere shows some people already claiming he eats babies, will destroy abortion rights, wants to lock up all the gays for touching each other, enslave the blacks, put the bitches back in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant, and shove religion into every facet of our lives. I bet if Senator Kerry won the election and nominated his choice some on the conservative side would be proclaiming the same thing less than 12 hours after an announcement.

Have I ever mentioned that shrill rhetoric tends not to impress me nor influence my decisions?

I swear politics makes people stupid (Some of these people are lawyers, law school graduates, or at least students. You know, those people who are supposedly trained to analyze a situation in-depth and see beyond the first layer of analysis). What do we know about Judge Roberts? Argued in front of SCOTUS 39 times both as a private lawyer and as a Deputy Solicitor General and won 25 times. Clerked at SCOTUS for then Associate Justice Rehnquist. Harvard educated (eh that doesn't mean anything to me). Was on the legal staff of President Reagan. Received a 99-0 confirmation from the Senate last time. CONCLUSION: on the face of things has the legal credentials to be on SCOTUS.

Yet many I know and others I merely read will scream about him being a conservative. This doesn't impress me. Liberal presidents attempt to appoint people they perceive as liberal judges while conservative presidents attempt to appoint people they perceive as conservative judges. That is the way the political game is played. Of course many presidential appointments didn't turn out they way they expected so we have an X factor at work in every nomination process.

One paragraph amused me and I'll explain why: "Liberal groups, however, say Roberts has taken positions in cases involving free speech and religious liberty that endanger those rights. Abortion rights groups allege that Roberts, while deputy solicitor general during former Bush's [I] administration, was hostile to women's reproductive freedom and cite a brief he co-wrote in 1990 that suggested the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion." Don't lawyers have to advocate a legal position favorable to their clients? Isn't it a breach of professional duty to argue otherwise? Aren't lawyers subject to penalties for going against their client interests? You might want to think who the clients were during that time.

Anything written for a client gives a shadow of a lawyer's thoughts at best. Legal briefs and memos are hollow echoes of personal beliefs and convictions. Legal briefs and memos give better insight into the client than the lawyer. Writings of a judge give better reflections of a person's core beliefs and how that person analyzes legal theory. Keep in mind that Court of Appeals opinions tend to be compromise documents. Lower court judges usually get to say they'll follow the laws when they run for election. Though having never run for election (that I'm aware of) you see the point. Stare decisis commands and controls lower judges. The mob will likely give a cursory analysis to any writing they can find. Those writings provide good hints as to how a Supreme Court justice might decide a case in broad terms. Yet in the end a Justice of the Supreme Court can decide a case any way he or she wants to. They have that power. That's part of the game.

I lack faith in the mobs of the Senate and those who attempt to influence the Senate. One thing I can damn near guarantee: the next two months will be a battle royale because politics makes people stupid and shrill.

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