Spredt fægtning II – om Roberts og SCOTUS

Nå, så blev det dommer John G. Roberts, der blev Bushs første nominerede til USA’s forbundshøjesteret.

Jeg ved–som de fleste–ikke meget om manden, men tilsyneladende er Demokraterne nu virkeligt ved at få skovlen under Roberts: Han er veluddannet (hvilket ellers er forbeholdt Demokrater), har ikke skrevet nogle synderligt kontroversielle domme (hvilket må siges at være dybt mistænkeligt), han og hustruen er katolikker–som oven i købet går til messe! (og vi ved jo nok, hvad betyder!)–og … [trommehvirvel] … og så har han måske været medlem af Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies! Holy Batmobile!

Det er ikke kun i Danmark, at man skal passe på med, hvilke “ekstremistiske” fora, man associerer sig med. Det næstmest venstreorienterede af USA’s to førende dagblade, Washington Post, er i en artikel rødglødende over, at Roberts måske engang for 7-8-9 år siden har været medlem af det selvbetegnede “conservative and libertarian” Federalist Society. For, som avisen skriver,

“In conservative circles, membership in or association with the society has become a badge of ideological and political reliability.”

Det kunne næsten ikke være værre. (Bemærk i øvrigt, at WP her benytter samme lille fif, som DR for nylig gjorde i et nyligt P1-indslag om Libertas: hvis man som forening ikke udleverer sine medlemslister til journalister, så har man dermed en “hemmelig medlemskreds” …)

SFW? Flere andre har været eller er medlemmer af Federalist Society. Inklusiv en brintoveriltet babe, Ainsley Haynes, der arbejder som Associate White House Counsel for en Demokratisk præsident–om end denne altså er Jed Bartlett og kun i TV-serien West Wing …, samt en enkelt dansk lektor i statskundskab.

Roberts’ måske-medlemskab har hurtigt fået Demokraterne til at fare i flint–og Republikanerne i defensiven. Wall Street Journal havde en god leder om det emne.

Sammesteds skrev Manuel Miranda i sin klumme et par kloge ord om dét–og om hvorfor (borgerlige) politikere ofte gøre deres (borgerlige) bagland en bjørnetjeneste, når de skynder sig at distancere sig fra organisationer, som er politisk ukorrekte. Det burde andre skrive sig bag øret.

Professor Richard Epstein (Chicago)–en af USA’s bedste juridiske begavelser, og uden tvivl en af de mest produktive og frihedsorienterede jurister–støtter i Wall Street Journal Roberts, og hans svar på Senator Charles Schumers (D-NY) spørgsmål til Roberts om, hvilke der er de dårligste højesteretsafgørelser, er meget passende: “Where shall I begin?” Sjældent har jeg set en amerikansk intellektuel give et så koncist–og fra mit perspektiv: tiltalende–svar på, hvad der er vedkommendes egen filosofi for, hvorledes domstolene skal dømme:

“What presumption should attach to the constitutionality of the use of state force? This vexed question of the “standard of review” is nowhere stated in the Constitution, and thus ultimately derives from a sense of its basic purposes, which I take to be the preservation of “ordered liberty”–with a state strong enough to rule, but not so strong as to snuff out the liberties of ordinary people to own property, enter contracts, worship, and speak as they please.

Given that view, the proper response to all forms of state regulation of private activities should be to subject them to serious judicial scrutiny, in order to see that they achieve their legitimate objectives. Judged by this twin standard, many decisions come out badly.”

You go, professor! Roberts synes umiddelbart for denne observatør ikke så dårlig, men for pokker … Hvis det dog bare havde været Epstein i stedet!

Men af dem, der var på tale (men som altså ikke fik nomineringen), bliver jeg dog mere og mere begejstret for Janice Rogers Brown (som jeg tidligere har omtalt)–og vi må håbe damen får chancen ved en senere lejlighed. Her er et par uddrag af, hvad kritikerne siger om den F.A. Hayek og Ayn Rand citerende dommer:

“She believes we would be better off if we returned to a time when protections like the minimum wage, food safety standards, and Social Security and Medicare were ruled unconstitutional–never mind what voters and elected officials think. She equates affordable housing regulations with theft. She argues that much corporate behavior can only be regulated if companies agree that it’s in their best interest. She calls court decisions upholding the New Deal “our own socialist revolution.” (People for the American Way)

“Justice Brown equates democratic government with “slavery,” claims that the New Deal “inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of collectivist mentality,” calls Supreme Court decisions upholding the New Deal “the triumph of our own socialist revolution,” accuses social security recipients of “blithely cannibaliz[ing] their grandchildren because they have a right to get as much ‘free’ stuff as the political system permits them to extract,” and advocates returning to the widely discredited, early 20th century Lochner era, where the Supreme Court regularly invalidated economic regulations, like workplace protections. “Where government moves in,” Justice Brown declares, “community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.”” (Alliance for Justice)

“Justice Brown’s disdain for government runs so deep that she urges “conservative” judges to invalidate legislation that expands the role of government, saying that it “inevitably transform[s]… a democracy … into a kleptocracy.” Following her own “pro-activist” advice, Justice Brown – always in dissent – uses constitutional provisions or defies the legislature’s intent to restrict or invalidate laws she doesn’t like, such as California’s anti-discrimination statute (which she condemns as protecting only “narrow” personal interests), hotel development fees intended to preserve San Francisco’s affordable housing supply, rent control ordinances, statutory fees for manufacturers that put lead-based products into the stream of commerce, and a false advertising law applied to companies making false claims about their workplace practices to boost sales. Justice Brown’s colleagues on the court have repeatedly remarked on her
disrespect for such legis
lative policy judgments, criticizing her, in different cases, for “imposing … [a] personal theory of political economy on the people of a democratic state”; asserting “such an activist role for the courts”; “quarrel[ing]… not with our holding in this case, but with this court’s previous decision … and, even more fundamentally, with the Legislature itself”; and “permit[ting] a court … to reweigh the policy choices that underlay a legislative or quasi-legislative classification or to reevaluate the efficacy of the legislative measure.” Justice Brown’s record of injecting her virulently antigovernment views into her opinions is particularly troublesome given that she has been nominated to the D.C. Circuit, a court with special jurisdiction over the interpretation of numerous federal statutory and regulatory protections.” (Alliance for Justice)

“… when nominated to the California Supreme Court in 1996, Justice Brown received a not qualified rating from the California Judicial Commission. Among other things, the Commission cited a “tendency to interject her political and philosophical views into her opinions” and complaints that she was insensitive to established legal precedent, lacked compassion and intellectual tolerance for opposing views, …” (Alliance for Justice)

Vent lige lidt–det var kritikken …?

Wall Street Journals politiske redaktør, John Fund, mener, at der skal være term limits for højesteretsdommere–på samme måde, som der er for præsidenter, samt i en del delstater for guvernører, borgmestre og andre lokale embeder. Han foreslår, i lighed med andre, en grænse på 18 år i stolen. Ja, hvorfor ikke? Havde den været sat således, ville John Paul Stevens, som blev nomineret af den Republikanske præsident Gerald Ford i 1975, og som har skrevet de værste af de seneste årtiers domme, for længst være blevet pensioneret. Og så var senest Kelo vs. New London næppe blevet, som den blev.

Og apropos dén monstrøse dom: Tre medlemmer af kongressen, som alle tre er forhenværende dommere, har skrevet en kort kronik, hvori de forklarer, hvorfor privat ejendomsret er privat og retfærdigt, og hvorfor det er skadeligt at lave om på det ved tage fra nogen og give til nogle andre.

Update:Wall Street Journals John Fund har denne passende observation vedr. Roberts’ kritikeres fascination af hans (måske-)medlemskab af Federalist Society:’

“[When] Judge Edith Clement, the runner-up to Judge Roberts for last week’s Supreme Court pick, was nominated in 2001 to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Vermont Senator Pat Leahy presented her with a long list of questions related to the group, such as: “With what (if any) Federalist Society positions do you disagree?” and “Did you consider resigning from the Federalist Society when you became a judge? If not, why not?” That line of questioning struck some as an echo of Joseph McCarthy’s infamous mantra: “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Indeed, back in 1998 even Senator Leahy had expressed concern over judicial nominees being roasted over tangential ties with a group.When Clinton nominee Susan Graber was being interrogated about two briefs she had written in cases involving the ACLU more than 15 years previously, Senator Leahy rose to her defense. He told the Senate: “She was asked whether she is now or ever has been a member of the ACLU. She was asked whether she personally agreed with a number of positions taken recently by the ACLU. I objected to this line of questioning at the hearing and caution the Senate that we are headed down a road toward an ideological litmus test that does not well serve the Senate, the courts or the American people. “Let’s see if Senator Leahy will call for similar restraint when it comes to Judge Roberts’ alleged ties to the Federalist Society.”

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