Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hold Your Fire

Dear Fellow Liberals,

Get a grip.

Let's take a deep breath here before we embarrass ourselves over the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Who were you expecting, honestly? Al Franken? We knew Bush was going to appoint a conservative judge; the only question was one of degree. So far, there is no indication that we're facing a way-right-of-mainstream freak like Scalia.

Yes, he's associated with some conservative organizations, like the Federalist Society and the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, the agenda of which was described today by The New York Times as promoting "free enterprise, private ownership of property, balanced use of private and public resources, limited government, and a fair and efficient judiciary." I mean, he's a Republican, folks. Were you hoping for someone with a Greenpeace membership? Amnesty International?

Now, I'm a big-government, pro-regulation bleeding-heart liberal, but none of the above buzzwords frighten me in any particular way. In fact, they look like pretty reasonable goals.

At work today I received an angry, panicky email from the folks at NARAL urging me to oppose the nomination. Look, being opposed to abortion is a defensible, reasonable position. And expressing disapproval of the procedure itself is not tantamount to saying that it should be illegal.

I know, because that's my own position.

I am opposed to abortion, but I'm quite convinced that banning it will not only not solve the problem, it will create new ones. So there's no reason at all to conclude that someone who is anti-abortion will necessarily be anti-Roe v. Wade. After all, if he really believes in "limited government," he's going to have a hard time explaining why the government's limits are broad enough to enclose a woman's uterus.

Furthermore, most of the issues near and dear to liberals' hearts have science, data, Constitutional precedent and just plain common sense on their sides. Admit it, liberals are right about pretty much everything.

Take the issue of gay marriage, should it arise in the Supreme Court in the next few years. What exactly do the conservatives have to support the argument that marriage should be restricted to opposite-gender couples?

Pretty much nothing. And as I've already illustrated, just because someone may not personally approve of something doesn't mean that they can't see the logic behind why it shouldn't be illegal.

So let's all count to ten. The appropriate organizations will start digging, and the Senate will get a chance to grill him. If anything truly upsetting comes up, we'll deal with it appropriately. But let's not go into pre-emptive partisan apoplexy.

19 comments:

Tin Man said...

Thank you! This was so well put.

I do quibble with a couple of things:

After all, if he really believes in "limited government," he's going to have a hard time explaining why the government's limits are broad enough to enclose a woman's uterus.

Many people, though, seem to hold both views, so it's possible that Roberts does as well. One can believe in the policy of limited government but still believe in the constitutionality of outlawing abortion (particularly on the state level, which is where it would be if Roe were reversed). The abortion debate tends to focus on the issue of a right to privacy in the Constitution, not on the issue of the size of government.

Take the issue of gay marriage, should it arise in the Supreme Court in the next few years. What exactly do the conservatives have to support the argument that marriage should be restricted to opposite-gender couples?

Pretty much nothing.


And yet, one can argue that we pro-same-sex-marriage folks have the burden of proving to the Court that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. After all, the Court ruled against a right to sexual privacy in Bowers in '86. Sure, it was eventually overruled, but it goes to show that what's obvious to us isn't always obvious to a majority of the Court.

Still - thank you so much for writing this. People need to relax.

Courtney said...

You know, I think I'm with you on this! I got my angry emails from NARAL and MoveOn, but I didn't respond yet. Wanted to read up a little more. And I think (scary to say) we could have done a lot worse. Let's take a breath and see how this plays out...

Matthew said...

Yes, so far, this fellow seems decently reasonable. It certainly could have been a lot worse, and might well turn out to be good.

rob adams said...

Very well said.

Jess said...

Excellent points, and I think we have to consider who we'd get as a nominee if this guy weren't approved. If this is a somewhat reasonable conservative, he may be better than whoever is next in line. As you said, at least he doesn't appear to be like Scalia.

Andy said...

Tin Man: yeah, after I "slept on it" overnight and re-read this post this morning, it did strike me that, yeah, duh, a lot of people do manage not to see a contradiction between a desire for small, limited government and the insistence that a bunch of white men in suits have power over women's reproductive options. But then again, many of these folks are the same people who insist that evangelical Christians speak for the vast majority of Americans and are simultaneously a minority viciously persecuted at the hands of the liberal secularists who dominate the government (without controlling a single branch of it), the media, and Dunkin' Donuts.

Matthew said...

Andy, Question:

Regarding the comment you made on my blog for the post I did about this same issue...

We you simply agreeing with my position and re-stating it, or did you not understand what I'd written?

I ask, because it confused me, and because this post seems to echo my own sentiments. Just curious. Thanks.

Andy said...

Yes, Matthew, I was concurring. : )

Andy said...

PS, it was the blogospheric equivalent to the immortal line, "And...yeah!" from Romy & Michele's High School Reunion.

Anonymous said...

I, like Courtney, received many e-mails yesterday asking me to sign petitions immediately so that the various organizations could quickly get to work destroying this man's chances. I did however receive one e-mail from Lambda Legal which sent a message I completely concurred with, i.e. we don't know enough about this man yet and Lambda was asking for donations to support them while their talented team of attorneys go to work really checking out this guy from a legal standpoint. I might have expected a GLBT organization to come out swinging but they sent a message with such class I immediately sent them a donation. I hope your readers will do the same.
JF

Matthew said...

Ah, ok, Andy. :-)

Andy said...

Actually I thought Lambda's email bordered on overreaction.

emoticripple said...

Well put. I think these organizations are only beefing about the nomination because they're afraid donors will think them lazy if they don't. It's not as if there's anything that can be done to prevent it, unless the White House produces documents proving that he rapes sheep.

David Ehrenstein said...

Ah yes the "It could be worse," argument. Sure, instead of Republican hack with big smiling happy face it could have been Zell Miller. That's like saying being slowly bled to death is preferable to getting your throat slit outright.

Andy said...

Hmm, I dunno about y'all, but I vote for the slow bleeding to death.

Courtney said...

Speaking as a liberal secularist, Andy, it's wicked-hahd dominating Dunkin' Donuts the way we do!

Anonymous said...

I don't kow if this is a strike against him but he was Jeb Bush's legal advisor during the 2000 election scandal. He flew down and gave free legal advice. You scratch my back we will appoint you.....

tribecatexan said...

With any luck John Roberts will turn out to be a moderate. The liberal Lawrence Tribe seems to like him for his judicial situational ethics -- examining each constitutional question in the narrow confines of the question before him. In that sense, I like him.

On another note, I think we're not that creative to argue the point of gay marraige and abortion, and other liberal issues.

Gay marriage will likely not be decided on civil liberties and equality grounds. The next level of abortion arguments should not be about privacy of medical decisions and when life begins.

Predictions to follow...and perhaps all the lawyers here can tell me I am wrong.

Andy said...

It's true...the french fry case was a little upsetting (he upheld the arrest of a 12 year old girl who got caught eating a single french fry in a Washington, D.C. subway station, in violation of that city's "zero tolerance" policy about food on public transportation.

And also, he has ruled that the people being held at Guantanamo are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention.

So...he's probably not going to be our hero. But again, if it's a question of lesser evils, at this point he's still probably the best we could hope for.