Political Hay

Demagogic Buffoons

John Roberts patiently explained the rudiments of the law to them, but the Senators were too busy shuffling through their papers in search of the ACLU's latest talking points to listen.

By 9.14.05

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The emptiness and arrogance of the Senate's demagogic buffoons can't be overstated. Arlen Specter's phrase "super duper" precedent illustrated what a collection of lightweights the Senate has become. John Roberts patiently explained the rudiments of the law to them, but the Senators were too busy shuffling through their papers in search of the ACLU's latest talking points to listen. Or in the case of Specter, looking around for an oversized Roe v. Wade prop to underscore his argument about "super duper" precedent, that cogent legal concept which somehow eluded the authors of the Federalist Papers and drafters of the Constitution.

And what's the high-minded reason for justices bowing before the super duper precedent of Roe v. Wade? Apparently, that Americans have come to bank on abortion as secondary contraception when they get into a jam. As Specter explained, Americans craft their "reproductive" strategies and lifestyles around the existence of abortion.

Does this mean injustices incorporated into the culture can't be touched, according to the Senators? No, just the injustices they and their constituents happen to like and find handy. Not long after Specter extolled the value of precedent as a protection for abortion, Senators Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy launched into windy tributes to past Supreme Court decisions that scotched precedent. In those cases, a culture built around a particular injustice could be disrupted. How is uprooting abortion different from uprooting racism? Teddy didn't explain.

While the great moralists of the Senate aren't worried that their "living" Constitution excludes unborn children from consideration by the states, they are concerned that Roberts might cut wartime thugs off from it. After Specter had concluded his discussion of the proper judicial reverence due abortion, Senator Leahy probed Roberts on his commitment to stopping abuse in wartime.

The Bill of Rights is very important to Leahy, as he hails from Vermont, a state which he proudly related wouldn't join the Union until the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution. This was a novel point for an aggressive secularist like Leahy to make, since Vermont used the First Amendment, which it clearly interpreted as an endorsement of public religion at the state level, to administer an oath for public office that read: "I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration and own and profess the Protestant religion."

Leahy wouldn't have made the cut back then, but now with "precedent" on his side he rides high on the horse. What exactly does precedent mean? For liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans, it means expecting justices to show respect for the rulings liberals like while demanding they show no respect for constitutional laws preceding those moments of judicial upheaval.

Stability? Settled expectations? These phrases, used often during Tuesday's hearing, mean nothing if our government amounts to rule by their "living constitution," which allows for endless precedent-busting, since it has no fixed content but changes according to the will of judges given the power to define it from moment to moment.

Grinning fraud Joe Biden, at his most insufferably fatuous, found John Roberts' "umpire" metaphor "inapt." Your job isn't simply to call balls and strikes, he lectured him, but to determine the "strike zone."

True, having to bat while knowing that the umpire can call any pitch a strike no matter how wild is like trying to live under a living constitution in which judges can declare any law "unconstitutional." In effect, Joe Biden is looking not for a judge who will apply preexisting rules equally to all but one who will rig the game in his constituents' favor: give an extra swing to this or that favored class/race/special interest and call the game when it looks like liberals will lose.

In one form or another, the Senators' browbeating questions to Roberts came down to demanding of him: You promise to uphold the mutilations of the Constitution our favorite justices have engineered, right? Even more outrageous was the implied questions in the hectoring from Kennedy: Are you as good and enlightened as I am? Are you a champion of women and opponent of discrimination and all bad things like I am?

Here we had a bloated boor who's endangered women in a very real way chastising an unimpeachable gentleman for failing to protect women. Who would parents want their daughters to go work for? Ted Kennedy or John Roberts?

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.