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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Questioning Judge Roberts

This piece raises some interesting points.

Questioning of Roberts missed mark
Sep 26, 2005 - The Harrisburg Patriot
Author(s): Adam S. Jones

Two unsettling lessons can be learned from the nomination and confirmation hearings of Judge John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court:

The excessive coverage of and reaction to his nomination indicates the Supreme Court has grown to be far too powerful, and, two, in all the chatter we hear the wrong questions concerning Roberts, showing Americans have a skewed expectation for the role of the court in our representative democracy.

Is it proper that so much excitement and trepidation should come from the appointment of one judge to a court of nine unelected justices? It is as if we are in the midst of a presidential election given all the fanfare. This is a clear indication there is far too much power in the vacant chair awaiting Judge Roberts, that the Supreme Court has grown to be much more than a "separate but equal" branch in our federal government.

Consider the concerns over the political views of Judge Roberts. Something is misaligned when we hear the terms "conservative" and "liberal" jockeyed around concerning a federal judge.

These are political terms that indicate a person's preferences on public policy. The emphasis on Roberts' politics shows we expect the court to be something it should not be: a political institution overtly or covertly implementing political party policy through its decisions.

Where is the concern over whether or not Judge Roberts will practice judicial restraint and not abuse this power as a justice?

There is no mention of "judicial review" -- that awesome power of overturning laws of Congress -- in the Constitution.

The court awaiting Roberts assumes for itself the power of overturning laws that are "unconstitutional," presumably in order to protect the constitution and therefore the liberties of the people. How will he handle such power?

A written constitution is itself a limit on the power of government. That is why everything is written down: to set the boundaries on the power of government so to protect the freedoms and rights of the people. It is ironic, then, if the power to interpret laws and the Constitution can become a near limitless power for the Supreme Court to rewrite the Constitution with every decision and set political policy that affects Americans lives, rights, and freedoms.

The major concern with Roberts should be over this immense power of the court. Activist groups and their pandering senators, however, only concern themselves with which side of political isle a justice falls and then getting the right activist on the court: Get a liberal on the court to keep abortion legal or get a conservative there to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The issue is whether or not justices, liberal or conservative, restrain themselves in deference to the people's representatives in Congress.

This is not an academic matter of squabbling over syntax; it is a civic concern that cuts directly to the heart of the American regime. Self-government is the primary civic right of any free people. The more political policy is set down by an unelected court and the less our representatives have to do with that policy, the less free we become.

Take a brief look at some political history: Presidential elections become more democratic in the early 1800s with direct voting by the people of the states. The U.S. Senate became more closely controlled by the people with the 17th Amendment passed in 1913, allowing for direct election by the people. The political parties became more democratic when the primary system allowed voters to choose their party's candidate for president.

But wait. Have you noticed that mass protests in the nation's capital rally to our nine constitutional nannies and congregate outside the Supreme Court while ignoring Congress across the street? Why do "We the People" on the one hand rightly desire control of our government and on the other hand ask an unelected court to control the policy that affects our lives? All we can do to the court is plead and beg like whining children before detached parents. We can, however, actually vote for the representatives in the capitol like a free and responsible people.

Why are we not asking Judge Roberts if he will or will not "leave us alone," constitutionally speaking? More importantly, why should "We the People" be left alone, or is that a matter for the Supreme Court to decide? ADAM S. JONES writes from Annville.

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