Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Judge John Grover Roberts

Judge Roberts is certainly qualified. And he is certainly capable of assuming the duties of a Supreme Court justice. However there are several reasons to be concerned about his possible nomination to the highest court for the next 20 or 30 years.

Justice Roberts was a legal figure under both the Reagan and Bush Administrations. There will be many issues that may involve the Bush Administration as a party in legal disputes, such as Justice Department briefs. Can a justice who was formerly associated with an Administration faithfully and independently rule on such legal briefs. This raises some good questions. The original concept of the Founding Fathers was for an independent judicial branch, not associated with either the executive or legislative branch. To have a legal figure so closely associated with the arguments of legal rulings for the Bush Administration raises concerns for a judicial branch not truly independent of the executive branch.

And while I'm personally consistently prolife, antiwar, and vegan, I nonetheless recognize that any ruling against Roe vs. Wade may contribute to dangerous illegal abortions and may not serve the economic interests of poor women unable to afford a child at this time. Yet I recognize that the 44 million children killed by abortion since Roe vs. Wade is a great sin, and a huge moral wrong in itself. This would be a population equal to California, Washington and Oregon if these babies were allowed to live. Yet I have some concerns about the role of Judge Roberts in this role as a pivotal vote on issues related to Roe vs. Wade.

One website notes that Judge Roberts' wife is a member of a prolife organization. This raises the question whether he can independently judge cases involving this critical issue. And as a legal advocate of the Bush Administration, Roberts once contended that no "Constitutional basis" existed to support Roe vs. Wade. Yet in another instance, Roberts asserted that Roe vs. Wade is the law of the land, and opposed an overturn of this 1973 decision. So there is a huge question of where Roberts actually would rule on issues related to Roe vs. Wade.

Another problem is that Roberts is seen as very probig business, and the court already has a background of support for many rulings far too favorable to big corporate interests that hurt individuals and consumers.

A recent ruling allowed local governments to seize property for large projects such as a Wal-Mart, that local governments may feel can generate more taxes or benefits for a local government , or a so defined "public good". Other rulings allowed big HMOs to deny services to clients to save money. Another benefited big Hollywood by going after file sharing software, not the specific users who infringe copywrite laws. Another ruling denied the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco like all other drugs , which greatly benefitted the big tobacco lobby, which is a huge contributor to Republican Party politics.

With this history of rulings that benefit big business interests, and the history of John Roberts as a probusiness jurist, it is difficult to see any real benefit to the individual or consumers. And it raises the question of whether this justice would independently decide such cases fairly as well.

And there are legitimate concerns about the Roberts view of civil liberties. Some justices feel that offensive speech is not protected by the Bill Of Rights, others believe the wording of the First Amendment absolutely protects all politically unpopular speech. Does Roberts closely intend to follow the wording of the Constitution and Bill Of Rights, or does he intend to use the court to further his own political agenda.

Roberts will no doubt be confirmed. He is not as self-sinking figure as Robert Bork was, who even appeared on programs such as Pat Robertson's 700 Club and lectured the nation on what parts of the Bill Of Rights he didn't agree with, and what portions he thought to be invalid. Roberts is unlikely to behave as silly and self righteous as Bork, and sink his hopes. Roberts is a far more serious legal mind and judge.

Yet there are many reasons for the Senate to closely evaluate Roberts. His ambiguous views on Roe vs. Wade, his lack of true independence from the Bush White House, when some issues involving Karl Rove, may or may not have be decided by the Supreme Court, and his probig business views, his views on civil liberties, and other areas deserve a close Senate scrutiny, not a mere rubber stamp. Roberts is certainly qualified, but certainly not the independent jurist that the Founding Fathers had intended in their wise vision of seperation of power and government by checks and balances.


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