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The Left is Cuckoo Over John Roberts By: Don Feder
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 01, 2005

It’s been less than two weeks since the president announced his nomination to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court – we’re still more than a month away from confirmation hearings – and the left is acting like a pack of rabid wolves – snapping their teeth and salivating as they bay at the moon. In other words, it’s behaving predictably.

If there was a prize for the most asinine pronouncement from this bone-head brigade, the competition would be fierce. Democrats are frantically posturing for their core constituencies. (“Hey, look at me. I can be even more hypocritical than Ted Kennedy, more hysterical than Barbara Boxer!”) The interest groups are waving nooses and flaming brands.

There’s a (twice-elected) Republican in the White House and a Republican Senate. But the Kennedys, Schumers and legion of self-righteous screamers behind them think they’re in charge. Sadly, no one actually knows where Roberts stands on the contentious questions of the day. It’s the possibility that the nominee might be a conservative that’s driving them bonkers.

Here’s a sampling of the rhetoric unleashed to date:

Ralph Neas  With every passing day, it is becoming clearer that John Roberts was one of the key lieutenants in the right-wing assault on civil rights and precedents,” the president of People for the American Way squawked.

For Neas, “civil rights” is code for racial quotas (which an overwhelming majority of Americans – including a majority of African Americans – oppose). “Precedents” means rulings of which PAW approves. Did they believe the Court should have deferred to the precedent established in Bowers v Hardwick – that state anti-sodomy laws were constitutional – instead of overturning it in Lawrence v. Texas?

John Roberts is as bland as tapioca pudding. Projecting this stolid lawyer as the capo of a vast right-wing anything, is like calling Michael Moore a studmuffin or Barbra Streisand a deep thinker. But anything to whip the troops into a frenzy.

Lynn Neary – The National Public Radio “correspondent” sweetly suggested that Roberts could be a slave of the Vatican. “And he is a Roman Catholic, and that might affect the way he views an issue like abortion, for instance.” Roman Catholic? Why didn’t she just say “papist”?

Only when it’s Catholicism (and occasionally evangelical Protestantism) is religion considered an appropriate topic for polite political conversation.

Try very hard to imagine the following commentary about a hypothetical nominee: “And he is a member of the United Methodist Church – notorious for its elitist social values –  and that might affect the way he views an issue like abortion, for instance.” Or, how about, “He’s a Reform Jew, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis thinks the Torah was delivered by Howard Dean at the last Democratic National Convention….”

It’s only when the Left suspects a nominee is a serious Catholic (or a committed evangelical), that his religion becomes fair game.

Anita Hill – “And why not choose a woman to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court? Or use this as an opportunity to nominate the first Latino to the court?”

Hill didn’t seem particularly concerned about diversity when she tried to torpedo Clarence Thomas’ nomination because he allegedly pestered her for dates and described stag films. (How innocent we were in the days before Clinton’s slam-hound administration.)

But I don’t doubt that the lady described as “slightly nutty, slightly slutty” by David Brock (before his convenient conversion to the Left), is earnest. For people like Hill, it’s all about quotas. If we can have affirmative action for law-school admissions, why not for Supreme Court justices? What, there are no trans-gendered, Hispanic dwarfs on the high court? This must be rectified, at once!

Still, one wonders how pleased Hill would have been, had Bush dominated Janice Rogers Brown to replace O’Connor. As a black and a woman, Brown would have been a two-fer. But Brown, whose nomination would have delighted me, is also a conservative, thus disqualifying her, in Hill’s eyes. The only kind of diversity Hill and company aren’t interested in is the only kind that counts – intellectual diversity.

Sen. Patrick Leahy – The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee (a man whose idiotic grin belies a marshmallow mind) explained that he couldn’t conceivably vote for a judge likely to pursue an “activist” agenda.

In the newspeak world of the Left (where opposition to racial favoritism constitutes racism), a judicial activist is one who opposes judicial activism. In other words, it means someone averse to using the judiciary as a battering ram for the social agenda of over-the-top feminism, homosexual marriage and the abortion-through-tenth-or-eleventh-month movement.

Leahy is one of the many casuists who want a litmus test, but aren’t honest enough to call it a litmus test (part of the Roe, Roe, Roe your boat crew). “I don’t see how somebody who said that they didn’t consider Roe v. Wade settled law…I don’t see how they can get confirmed,” the Vermonter opined.

Settled law? No such thing.

It’s settled until the Supreme Court changes its mind about the meaning of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause or the Fifth Amendment’s Public Taking Clause. One of the joys of having a Court that rules from the gut – based on the whims and political leanings of a majority – rather than on the Founders’ intent and the Constitution’s clear meaning – is that words rarely mean the same thing twice.

Leahy is saying that once his side gets what it wants, then it’s “settled law” – immutable, unchangeable, the legal equivalent of Holy Scriptures. On the other hand, what isn’t as yet to his liking is open to reexamination, as the Constitution continues to evolve in the fevered brains of activist judges.

Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy Massachusetts’ Senator-for-life says Roberts must give his opinion on matters that could come before the court, notwithstanding the long tradition of nominees refusing to answer such queries.

The senator, it must be noted, did not demand that Ruth Bader Ginsburg come clean at her confirmation hearing in 1993. Ginsburg (an official of the national ACLU for almost a decade) pointedly refused to disclose her views on gay rights and capital punishment.

In fact, the senior hypocrite from Massachusetts is on record on the inappropriateness of such interrogation. At Thurgood Marshall’s nomination hearings in 1967, Kennedy intoned, “We have to respect that any nominee to the Supreme Court would have to defer any comments on any matters which are either before the court or very likely to be before the court.” (Quick, call Bill Clinton. Maybe he can help Kennedy to redefine the word “defer.”)

But, of course, the Senator meant any Democratic Supreme Court nominee would have to defer any comments, etc. For this category of nominees, his rule is: Don’t ask. Don’t tell.

Sen. Maria Cantwell – The happily named Senator from the state of Washington – who does indeed spout leftist cant well – said it isn’t enough for Roberts to pledge allegiance to Roe; he must also declare his unswerving loyalty to a First Amendment right to privacy, on which Roe is theoretically based. (“I want to hear the nominee say that it is the basis for his philosophy,” Cantwell chattered at a press conference with Boxer, Senator Rodham and other constitutional scholars.)

Never mind that the First Amendment does not contain the words “abortion,” “reproductive rights,” or “privacy.” Forget the fact that we went through almost 200 years of American jurisprudence before a Supreme Court located such a concept (a constitutional right to privacy) in the Bill of Rights. Ignore the fact that, later in life, Justice Harry Blackmun (the author of Roe), admitted that his opinion was based not on anything in the Constitution, but on his determination to create a right to abortion.

Cantwell and her colleagues insist that Roberts pretend to see something that isn’t really there, the constitutional equivalent of the emperor’s-new-clothes.

The New York Times – In a July 23 front-page story (headlined “Anti-Abortion Advocacy of Wife of Court Nominee Draws Interest”), the bulletin board of the establishment Left coyly informed us that, “Some abortion opponents” view Jane Roberts’ work for a pro-life group “as a clear signal that the Robertses are committed to their cause; supporters of abortion rights (i.e., the Times’ editors) fear the same thing.”

But why stop at Jane Roberts’ pro bono activities? Why not also scrutinize the views of Roberts’ mother and father, neighbors, and the parents of kids on his son’s Little League team? Get lists of his video rentals. (How many times has he seen “The Passion of Christ” or “The Ten Commandments”?) Demand that the White House turn over his high-school essays and third-grade report card. (“Little Johnny takes a disturbingly narrow view of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.”)

Keep reminding yourself: It’s the Left that invented the expression “witch hunt.” (“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Federalist Society?”)

Truth be known, I’m less than delighted with the Roberts’ nomination. I agree with Ann Coulter: Stealth candidates are usually a disaster for the right. I wanted a paper trail that looked like a four-lane highway. I wanted an ironclad guarantee that, once on the Court, a nominee wasn’t going to try to declare democracy unconstitutional, or have non-consensual relations with the American people.

I don’t see why Republican presidents have to play this inane game of philosophical hide-and-seek. Why they can’t just say: “Yep, my nominee believes that God in the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional, just like 80 percent of the American people. He does not believe that the First Amendment protects snuff films. So what? This guy knows how to read the Constitution. He believes words have an objective meaning – unlike David (local government can take your home for a strip mall) Souter or Anthony (the pronouncements of the European Union trump the intent of the Founding Fathers) Kennedy.”

On the other hand, the American people did not elect me president last year. Nor did they elect Chuck Schumer, Patrick Leahy or Ralph Neas. I may be disappointed with Bush’s choice; but it is his choice. At this point, the only relevant question is: Does he have the experience to serve on the United States Supreme Court?

Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website, DonFeder.com.

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