Monday, November 08, 2004

GOOD NEWS FOR THE SUPREME COURT? Drudge claims that the White House is considering naming Clarence Thomas as chief justice if the ailing William Rehnquist decides to retire. I don't know how much stock to put in this - is the Bush administration really using Drudge to float trial balloons? - but this strikes me as a potentially positive development.

Call me crazy, but my guess is that President Bush would use the Thomas promotion as a sop to the right. And then, it seems to me, he would have to nominate someone more mainstream to fill Thomas's slot. The result: one fewer right-wing extremist (i.e., Rehnquist) on the Court.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're probably right. Bush's interest is in expanding the party, not making conservatives happy. Expect his first Supreme Court appointee to be a moderate latino, followed by a moderate white, followed by a conservative black (or vice versa for the latter two).

Roe v. Wade is lightyears away from being overturned. Naral's desperate mailings can't change that. ;)

Anonymous said...

OK - you're crazy. Having won election on the backs of committed conservatives who live to overturn Roe, why would Bush now turn his back on them? Win, lose, or draw the modern GOP is now completely and utterly tied to the anti-abortion movement. This is the moment that they have been praying for, and if Bush were to walk out on that, the GOP would be destroyed.

It's funny - conservatives eventually will lose because they just can't believe that things like evolution aren't true, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Progressives are losing now because they continue to believe conservatives really aren't conservative, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Dan Kennedy said...

We just have to hope that the Democrats are willing to use their 44 votes and filibuster to death any extremist nominees. And they've got to be hard-assed about it, and not croak Wingnut #1 only to wimp out and let Wingnut #2 slide through. If God wanted Bush to load up the Supreme Court with Thomas and Scalia types, he would have given the Democrats just 39 votes. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Bush has repeatedly said that he promised in his campaign to appoint justices who follow the constitution and do not use their personal opinions to interpret it, and that he intends to deliver on that promise. What that means is that he will appoint as many strict interpretationists, (i.e., like Scalia), as possible. Strict interpretationists believe that there is no constitutional right that is not explicitly stated in the constitution. Thus, there is no constitutional right to privacy -- a constitutional right which non-strict interpretationists have derived from the penumbra of multiple other privacy-related constitutional rights. Strict interpretationists say that there is a right to be free from unreasonable searches, but no constitutional right to privacy. With no right to privacy, there is not only no right to abortion, there is no constitutional right to contraception, or to consult privately with one's doctor. Bush is very clear on what he is looking for in a justice. What makes people think he might choose anyone who is moderate in any way?

whispers said...

A previous comment:
"Strict constructionists believe that there is no constitutional right that is not explicitly stated in the constitution."
In other words, strict constructionists don't believe in the Ninth Amendment which, ironically enough, is part of the explicit text of the Constitution.

whispers said...

Oh, and anybody who thinks Bush would publish somebody to the left of Scalia or Thomas is in serious denial. Bush has a deeply self-satisfied personality. Moderation is not part of his nature. He believes in beating his opposition over the head with a stick as much as possible.

I think we will see the worst nominations in a century by Bush. "Chief Justice Clarence Thomas" is merely a taste of what Bush has to offer.

Anonymous said...

I think people, including Dan Kennedy, have to moderate their language. Chief Just Rehnquist is not a "right-wing extremist." If we use such language in cases like this, what language will be left over for the true "right-wing extremists"?

Dan Kennedy said...

Actually, "right-wing extremist" was pretty kind. Here's some bedtime reading for you:

http://www.s-t.com/daily/01-99/01-11-99/b04op072.htm

Anonymous said...

Anyone who looks at a Bob Herbert column and says "Hmmm...this is an interesting piece of writing that I'll submit as evidence to back up my own opinion" hasn't got enough honesty to be taken seriously. You're a knave, Kennedy. You're so far on the left that those who are reasonbly on the right look like they're extreme to you. So, instead of honestly having a discussion about the pros and cons of a given issue all you're reduced to is dismissing the other side as extreme. How does one even function in society with such a mindset??? You are the extremist here. You're the one who works for the "alternative weekly" newspaper that takes ads from whores and pimps. It's not the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who's extreme -- you are! Don't you get it????

JvE said...

I like to describe myself, proudly, as a Radical Moderate. I take it that each side of a given argument or issue tend to have valid points mixed with questionable ones, and that what government should do is act on the common ground, or otherwise create the common ground. Hence most reasonable people probably want abortion to stay legal, but want to see concerted efforts to reduce its use as birth control, and act to ban the small number of late-term abortions which are medically unnecessary [where 'health' has been watered down to mean 'mental or emotional health'] and amount to jamming a suction hose into a moving, late term fetuses skull. I do find myself being gently pushed to the right by writers like Kennedy who, while obviously intelligent, seems less and less capable of either examining his own premises, or considering what merits the opposing side probably does in fact have. As to alternative press - it's great to have a proudly Leftist mag so chock full of information and ideas. But it's sinking into rabid propoganda, and I agree that you, Mr. Kennedy, are arranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks blissfully into thoughtless gibberish.

Anonymous said...

I have to go along with previous posts, DK. The search for Truth has been man's highest goal for thousands of years. To dismiss objectivity as a "cult" and in effect, claim "I'll decide what's true, dammit" is intellectual dishonesty. As long as you want to have the credibility of Ann Coulter and Michael Moore, that's OK. I think you are capable of much better, however.

Dan Kennedy said...

I think we're confusing terminology here. In journalism, unfortunately, objectivity is oftentimes the enemy of truth. The classic example of this is the Joseph McCarthy era. The press of the 1950s reported McCarthy's accusations that members of the State Department were communists even though the reporters were virtually certain McCarthy was lying, because the rules of objectivity dictated that the statements of a senator are inherently newsworthy. Today, the media would be more likely to examine those statements and determine whether they were true or not - but such efforts would be dismissed by McCarthy's defenders as "non-objective."

"Objectivity" also carries with it the suggestion that the reporter has no point of view. Reporters always have a point of view, even if they are covering a car accident. Even 30 years ago, when I was in journalism school, we were taught that "objectivity" was a poor term for what we should really be about, which is to be fair and to get all sides of a story. (If you think that's the definition of objectivity, then you're wondering why I refer to objectivity as a "cult." What I'm trying to explain is that there are subtle differences between "objectivity" and "fair and balanced" - and that "fair and balanced" is better.)

My highest value is truth. When it clashes with objectivity, dump the objectivity and stick with truth.

Anonymous said...

Raising the issue of McCarthy raises the Venona Project. Were all those oh-so-wise reporters correct about Alger Hiss or not? We all get wiser with age only if we acknowledge what we don't know and that jumping to conclusions is easy but usually wrong.

JvE said...

>>My highest value is truth. When it clashes with objectivity, dump the objectivity and stick with truth. <<

Besides not making any sense on its face, this is precisely the wrong sentiment. Objectivity in journalism is an effort to represent facts qua facts, and to give equal time to differing opinions. Truth as such pertains to facts. I think where I disagree with you is opinion as such is not the same thing as fact as such, and just because you have a Leftist opinion on subject matter "X", while you have the right to only concern yourself with those opinions as such, it ceases to be objective journalism, and it leads to bad philosophy.

Put alot more simply, there's a difference between defending some form of Affirmative Action and presuming for the sake of your own missive that those opposed do so because they're 'racist'. The Irish guy from Southie who scored a 99 Five Times on the test to 'get on' the firefighters isn't a racist, nor right wing [unless supporters of meritocracy are per se right wing] - he just feels *he* shouldn't be penalized because he's a member of race A in an effort to repair the damage of racism.

And you know what - he's got as good, if not a better argument than you.

And I post because, well, I believe I'm right, but I also think you can at least recognize a kernel of truth.

See, sometimes you're preaching to the choir so long, you stop paying attention to the words.

whispers said...

"Objectivity is...giving equal time to differing opinions."

Wrong. Objectivity is concerning oneself with objective truth. One should give as much time to an opinion as one thinks it merits. Giving equal time to the "Flat World" opinion as the "Relativity" opinion is not a sign of objectivity, for example. To the contrary, it's a sign that one camp is held to lower standards than the other.

Dan Kennedy said...

Ah, but you see, the reason journalistic objectivity has fallen into disrepute is that its very definition is giving equal time/space/whatever to the flat-earthers. That's why objectivity can interfere with truth, and why I prefer "fair," a less-loaded word.

JvE said...

Of course, the sentence I wrote was:

>>Objectivity in journalism is an effort to represent facts qua facts, and to give equal time to differing opinions.>>

I did not merely write that Objectivity in journalism is an effort to give equal time to differing opinions.

But congratulations for illustrating the point. You judged that the middle of a sentence I wrote didn't "merit" reproduction, hence the assertion I made could be robbed of context, hence changed to fit a point you wanted to argue against a priori.

Objective journalism will best thrive when reporters only give time to what he or she feels 'has merit', eh?

Sounds awfully subjective to me.

I don't think anyone minds when an opinion columnist gives his or her opinion - but to call yourself a "progressive" and somehow think that transforms the enterprise into rigorous journalism is absurd.