Saturday, September 17, 2005

Roberts

I only briefly caught some of the Roberts hearings this week. During the little that I was able to watch, I found myself longing for someone with the combative spirit of Robert Bork, someone who could tell Teddy Kennedy, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer a thing or two about constitutional interpretation. This may reflect a certain immaturity on my part, but I won't feel satisfied having Roberts confirmed (which he will be). I want someone to make the case for constitutionalism in front of all those liberal senators.

Terry Eastland reports about an important exchange between Roberts and Dick Durbin, who asked Roberts if he would go "beyond loyalty" to the rule of law. Roberts, to his credit, indicated that he wouldn't, but he didn't offer much of an explanation as to why he wouldn't either.

Also, Charles Krauthammer reports that all of the liberal senators' questions really had to do with Roe. When a senator asks about the "right to privacy," he means Roe, because that's the "theory" on which Roe rests. Roberts gave no indication that he was willing to overturn precedent in order to interpret (or re-interpret) the Constitution. This, of course, is an example (disappointing to me) of a "conservative" not being a constitutionalist, because he prefers established precedent, however mistaken, over the rule of law. There may be something conservative in it (which makes it ironic that Democrats are now fans of upholding precedent), but it's not constitutional.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jacob Golbitz said...

Would it be more or less correct to say that favoring precedence is an old -school conservative (e.g., Burkean) approach, whereas an emphasis on constitutionalism is classical liberalism?

7:29 PM  
Blogger John Coumarianos said...

I'm no Burke expert, but that sounds about right. I think there's a strange kind of progressivism or organicism to Burke as well; but, as I said, I'm no expert....

8:38 PM  
Blogger Ignatius Loyola said...

Precedence can go by the wind, depending on who's doing the writing. These classificatory schemes are -- in advance -- more or less useless. Burke is dead, and his writings are used as one wills...

We all know the direction that Roberts is coming from. His inability to defend his positions -- or his reluctance to, as John points out -- is not an indication of a lack of stomach, but rather of the particular political climate in which he has been raised. The fault lies equally with conservatives such as Roberts as it does with Schumer, Kennedy, et al. These people are unwilling, intellectually, to defend their positions on anything other than, say, the Commerce Clause.

1:32 AM  

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