Friday, July 22, 2005

"Stealth Justices" and "Non-Activists"

Little information exists on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts . Labeled a "non-activist" judge by those who seek his appointment, conservatives have looked for hints that Roberts may side with them on issues such as abortion: Roberts' wife belonged to Feminists for Life (a pro-life group) and Roberts himself is Catholic. These mean nothing as to Roberts' own opinions, and nothing as to how he will decide cases.

David Souter, the "stealth justice," was another nominee whose values were uncertain. Even a year after his appointment to the Supreme Court, little was known about the principles on which his decisions would rest. Even now, do we know what guides his decisions? From his concurrence in the Kelo v. New London case, it apparently is not a commitment to individual rights to property and clear definitions of "the public good."

When we try to figure out what a nominee might think about one issue or another, we're looking at red herrings and forgetting to look for the basic principles on which all the other issues rest. A Supreme Court Justice must be committed to the principle of individual rights. The Justice's priority must be to uphold the Constitution, not to reinterpret it. All other decisions follow from that commitment. What I want is a nominee with a reputation for not sacrificing individual rights on the altar of the ever increasing "public good."

I may ultimately agree with all of John Roberts' decisions -- but who knows? I could draw straws and happen to obtain a favorable outcome, but my decision would not have been made correctly.

No more mysterious "stealth justices" or "non-activists" -- give me a Justice with a proven commitment to individual rights.

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