Monday, September 12, 2005

From Tedium To Apathy And Back Again, With A Side Trip To The U.S. Senate

Unlike the Mr. Roberts of the stage and screen (to which the title of this posting is paraphrased), Chief Justice nominee John Roberts doesn't have to sail about the South Pacific with a demoralized crew, a sadistic captain, or a randy ensign in order to get "Pulverized."

After listening to the very concise, and yet quite eloquent closing remarks by the judicial Mr. Roberts, which closed out the first day of his confirmation hearings, I couldn't get past one observation that I thought ironic at the very least.

Everyone is pontificating about the need to ask litmus-test questions of judicial appointments, so that we can be sure to know how they would vote on key questions before the court. Forget the irony of elected officials who are supposed to make law overstepping tradition to ask such questions in order to ensure that laws created by previous justices, that were never supposed to be making laws, would never be overturned.

What was most interesting to me is that Mr. Roberts, who said he has argued cases before the Supreme Court, both for and against the United States government's positions, is in essence being told by the various senators that all such efforts were a worthless waste of breath.

How so? Well, these litmus questions that recent nominees like Mr. Roberts have been forced to endure pre-suppose that he...and other judges like him...will have predetermined their opinions without hearing the arguments put before them by the attorneys for either side of the case. If all justices actually did this, then all the time Mr. Roberts put forward preparing for, and presenting in, the Supreme Court is a waste of time, because there isn't anything he could say that would change the opinions of the nine black robed jurists he's supposed to sway.

The easiest way for our noble senators to save themselves from having to appear so pathetic is for them to continue to approve nominees that are not judicial activists seeking to make law.

As Mr. Roberts said in his closing remarks, "I'm going to judge balls and strikes, but never pitch or bat."

As for what has led the elected members of our most esteemed legislature in the land to ask such condescending and insulting questions? Well...I guess we need to remember the question asked by Mr. Robert's (the fictional sailor) friend, "Doc," when he was asked if a handful of men who had been in a brawl could return to the island for shore leave:

"Anybody got a fractured skull?"

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