January 9, 2006
I don't give heed to my personal views. I interpret the law," he has said. Washington Post, January 9, 2006
I'm sure conservatives must believe that liberals do the same thing, but, in the debate about Judge Alito, I have to highlight the determination of conservatives to associate their issues with motherhood and apple pie values to sell them to a majority of Americans who probably don't really share their views.
Do most Americans want to roll back "one man, one vote"? Alito does. He voted against a ruling that prohibited states from awarding congressional delegates on the basis of radically unequally populated districts. So they would map a huge proportion of blacks into one large district and give them one delegate, and then map white neighborhoods into numerous districts, giving them many delegates. Alito did not see a problem.
His defenders could probably rightly argue that the founders of the nation did not intend "one man, one vote". That is surely true, because the founders of the nation did not expect negro slaves to be voting at all, ever. Is that what Americans want? But that's what conservatives are really talking about when they claim that they only want "strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court. Why is this idea so holy? Do people seriously believe that humankind hasn't made any progress since 1776?
Think about it-- conservatives want a country that is guided, in law, by the intentions and ideals of rich white men who lived in the 18th century in New England. That's democracy?
Did the writers of the constitution intend for women to vote? Did they intend for corporations to be held liable for deaths and injuries caused by pollution or defective gas tanks? Did they ever imagine, in their wildest dreams, that any business or organization would ever not have the right to fire homosexuals?
My second gripe about the conservative defense of Alito is this "personal" business. Alito claims that he would never allow his personal views to affect his rulings. He asks us to believe that the Bush administration should really have no reason to prefer him, over, say, Laurence Tribe. Or he wants us to believe that Tribe's personal views will affect his interpretation of the constitution, but Alito's will not. What a glorious ego! Is he any good-- ask him. Conservatives don't have an ideology: they make perfect sense. It's those liberals who hold extremist, radical views.
It would be a great service to all of mankind, and to the cause of truth in general, if everyone would just get over this issue and proclaim, loudly from every rooftop, "of course my personal views will affect my judicial actions-- that's what they're there for". Because this is pure bullshit. What planet do these conservatives come from? They ask us to believe that all of Alito's previous positions and policies were all based solely on his amazing and transcendent affinity with the pure law, up there in the heavens, and have never once been sullied with human feelings or passions or preferences. The fact that all of his previous rulings and positions-- every single one of them-- supported conservative ideology is pure coincidence.
Conservatives seem to believe that it is a transcendent, eternal truth that homosexuality is a willful act of social defiance. It is a transcendent, eternal truth that women's work is not as valuable as a man's work. It is a transcendent, eternal truth that black children and white children should not share a classroom.
And somehow they believe that it is judicial "activism" to read, into the constitution, the right of the government to regulate the activities of a woman's womb.
This would be a joke if this myth were not so insistently parroted by everyone on the right now as they form a magical choir, uniformly singing the praises of "Alito, Alito." Roll back judicial activism! Rosa Parks-- get back to the back of the bus!
And the reason they rejected Harriet Maier so vehemently? Not for her ideology or personal views, surely-- which were suspect on abortion or women's rights. No, no, no-- we don't judge nominees by their "personal views", no, no, no.
It's because she didn't have that mystical, pure affinity with divine law. Or maybe because she was a broad-- I don't know.