September 13, 2005

What I Learned From the Roberts Hearings: Day 1

From NPR I learned that, earlier in her career in government, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) took part in sentencing women to jail for having abortions. And in college Feinstein saw a plate passed around so that one of her classmates could get money to go to Mexico for a back-alley abortion (I don't recall her saying if she contributed).

John Roberts likes to use inane, vaguely condescending sports metaphors. I shudder to consider how many of his opinions this is going to affect for the next 30+ years.

The New York Times isn't above wasting its op-ed page on the distribution of unadulterated crap (or bad jokes) - but I already knew that. When Glenn Reynolds writes the best questions in a series on what the Senate should ask Judge Roberts, it's not a great day for insight from the New York Times.

Professor Jean Edward Smith of Marshall University doesn't mind looking like a fool. You are given column inches in the New York Times, and you make a tiresome crack about Supreme Court fashion. Uh-huh.

Sen. Coburn (R-OK) likes crossword puzzles. And he is deeply troubled by partisanship and the hateful tone of national politics - though I presume this non-"hater" still considers gays the greatest menace to America, and supports the murder of some Americans. Save your crocodile tears senator - even if they do make Ann Althouse laugh.

And Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) doesn't think Roberts should have to say a word, and urges him to ignore those tricky Democrats who have nothing better to do with the next few weeks than craftily try to make him embarrass himself. I wonder if this means that Sen. Cornyn is now commiting himself to never asking another substantive question to any federal court nominee for the remainder of his tenure in the Senate. That would seem to follow, if that's the way he feels Roberts should behave here. So ... hurrah! The less I have to hear John Cornyn say, the happier I am.

If you want a quick run-down of the central points of all the speakers, Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog has this review.

Posted by armand at September 13, 2005 08:27 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Law and the Courts


a propos the umpire analogy.

what baffles me is that neither roberts nor lindgren point to what i think is the useful analogy: it's not umpires versus batters or pitchers. it's umpires versus the rules. or umpires abiding the rules. instead of setting umpires into opposition with players, roberts might have said that while he gets to call balls and strikes, he does so according to the clear mandate of the baseball rule book, as with all other on-field matters, noting that, in doing so well, he will be most invisible to the crowd, which as he rightly noted doesn't attend the game to watch umpires make calls. he also might throw something in there about the ability to call balls and strikes being an acquired skill, perhaps augmented by a certain native ability (good eyesight, for example). even an umpire who knows the rules upside down and backward will not be invisible if he calls really bad balls and strikes. of course, then he'd have to acknowledge, at least tacitly, that judges do some judging no matter what their jurisprudential orientation, and that the ideal judge is not an automaton.

that's my recommended question: in a century's time, when we have effectively created a turing-test-passing machine intelligence, would we be best advised to turn over our judiciary to 'thinking' machines?

for me, of course, the answer would be no, because, as in baseball, i prefer the human element, and while i don't go to the game to watch umpires i do think their fallibility adds to, rather than detracts from, the quality of the entertainment. can anyone imagining sitting in the stands and not bitching about balls and strikes, notwithstanding that he's 150 feet away at an oblique and elevated angle?

similarly, the gallery of the supreme court: we'd all be bored out of our skull, we appellate law fetishists, if we had a judiciary above mistake: how boring.

Posted by: joshua at September 13, 2005 09:55 AM | PERMALINK

Has anyone ever looked to see if what the nominees say in their hearings has any bearing on how they rule as justices? I mean, could Roberts just tell us anything he wants to get confirmed, and then rule any old way he pleases once he gets there?

Posted by: baltar at September 13, 2005 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed - which makes complaints/warnings of Cornyn and company that much stranger.

As to your question - I've never seen anything like that, but I haven't looked for it either.

Posted by: Armand at September 13, 2005 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Oh boy... I love Norbizness yes I do.

Posted by: binky at September 13, 2005 06:08 PM | PERMALINK
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