Carol Platt Liebau: An Unseemly Obsession with the Personal

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

An Unseemly Obsession with the Personal

The Senate's focus on "John Roberts the man" as manifested in this AP piece is as ridiculous as it is frustrating.

This obsession with the personal is the mark of a society that sees judges not in their proper role as impartial arbiters and Constitutional interpreters, but as superlegislators, who are and should be bringing personal policy preferences to the act of adjudicating. John Roberts has said, "Judges wear black robes because it doesn't matter who they are as individuals. That's not going to shape their decision. It's their understanding of the law that will shape their decision."

And that's as it should be. If a judge sticks to his traditional obligation to interpret the Constitution, rather than making law, his personal views, preferences, experiences and insights should matter not at all. Indeed, Judge Roberts' own experiences with end-of-life issues are (or should be) completely irrelevant as to whether there's a right to "assisted suicide" in the Constitution, for example.

Certainly, justices must be men and women of good character -- there's no room on the bench for those of flawed integrity. But that's not the issue that the senators seem worried about when Dianne Feinstein bleats, "I'm trying to see your feelings as a man," or when Mike DeWine intones, "President Bush nominated John Roberts, the man."

No, he didn't, Senator DeWine -- he nominated John Roberts the judge. And the emphasis in the Senate hearings belongs on judicial -- not personal -- philosophy.

4 Comments:

Blogger Poison Pero said...

I expect such foolishness from Boxer and the rest of the insaniacs with (D) behind their name.

But DeWine, and the rest of the Rhino's, is a joke...
http://members.cox.net/jayc1832/Lib%20Rips/Rhinos.jpg

5:21 PM  
Anonymous kb said...

Carol,

I completely agree with your views on the role of a justice in our society and how a justice should approach the cases facing the court. However, I see nothing wrong in the senators trying to find out about John Roberts the person, because that would indicate whether he does have integrity, whether he will be fair, whether he appreciates that each case is not just an "intellectual feast" (which is why Robert Bork said he wanted to be on the Supreme Court), but something that affects real people.

I was concerned about David Souter's nomination, not because of his judicial philosophy, but because he seemed too reclusive to really understand people.

I say let the senators find out a bit about John Roberts, the man.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Draino said...

What's more unseemly is not even mentioning in your blog, that 150 Iraqi citizens (whose freedom is the latest reason we are fighting there) were blown to smithereens today. Are we that blase about the killing over there?? But I suppose it is more important to attack democrats who are actually supposed to be "devils advocates" in the advise and consent process of confirming a lifetime chief justice appointment. Listen, Roberts is getting an easy pass and will be nominated so move on to something worth discussing will you?

6:56 PM  
Blogger eLarson said...

What's more unseemly is not even mentioning in your blog, that 150 Iraqi citizens (whose freedom is the latest reason we are fighting there) were blown to smithereens today.
By Michael Moore's 'freedom fighters' no less. Does he have anything about that over at his joint?

Are we that blase about the killing over there??
I'm glad--really--that you are not. Nor am I. However I heard that news on the radio and TV.

Listen, Roberts is getting an easy pass and will be nominated so move on to something worth discussing will you?
Don't you mean 'MoveOn'? And Roberts has been nominated. You mean, I think, 'will be confirmed...'

You are right, he will. I'm sure the D's on the committee are doing their best to try to fluster him. It's been rather comical to watch, actually. Judge Roberts is clearly the smartest person in that entire chamber. On top of that he has already argued successfully before the Supreme Court many, many times. The likes of Joe Biden won't phase him in the slightest.

6:50 AM  

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