Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Pig in a Poke... or Compromise Candidate?

So, the president has nominated John Roberts as the justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. This was followed by the predictable onslaught of socially conscious spam to my inbox from leading liberal groups on how unsuitable the candidate is, and the potential damage to my rights as a woman, a lesbian, and a non-Christian.

In comparison to Bush's nominees to the lower courts, though, this guy almost sounds like a moderate. I was expecting Dubya to name someone to the right of Roy Moore as his 'balloon payment to the religious right' (term coined by a CFK member). My first discomfort actually came from the term 'corporate lawyer', as opposed to his meager record on social issues. Roberts may be a payoff to Big Oil or the other megacorps that are the real string-pullers in the White House.

The only major social issue stand by Roberts that I know about is his signing a government brief that promoted overturning Roe V. Wade. On the other hand, he has made other statements that make his views on abortion much more ambiguous. Another possible black mark: he used to work for Ken Starr. I consider this a bad influence, because Starr turned an investigation of possible Clinton malfeasances into an expose of Bill Clinton's sex life. Baaaad training for a future Supreme Court judge.

My suggestion to the progressive members of the Senate is to grill Roberts on all of his views - not just the 'hot button' issues, but things like eminent domain, environmental protections, and corporate liabilities when products like toxic waste or tobacco hurt people. I'd also get a cadre of investigators to learn everything they can about him, right down to his underwear size. We know very little about him, which is justification enough for putting him under close scrutiny before confirming him to our highest court.

There is a good chance, though, that even if Roberts is a right-wing pig in a poke, he will get rammed through like Bush's other nominees this term. If that happens, we can draw comfort from's reminder that the Supreme Court is not the final stop for social justice. It is up to us, collectively as citizens, to keep pushing for fairness and accountability in our society. No one is going to hand it to us, no matter which direction the Supreme Court pendulum swings.

Sarah G


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