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Tipping the Scales of Justice With Bloated Ideology

Posted on March 23 2010 7:30 pm
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This Wednesday (March 24) the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings to consider the nomination of progressive Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Many are troubled by the additional possibility of this nominee being groomed for upcoming Supreme Court vacancies, and they should be troubled. Everything I have seen about Liu tells me that the scales of justice would not only be tipped, but toppled over with ideology like his in either of these positions.

Back on March 8th, I wrote about his promotion of education as a human right, and where it might go from there. He has said:

Forging a strong link between a right to education and the guarantee of national citizenship is a potential beachhead for broader thinking on social and economic rights.

Oh, but he has much more to offer. Consider his stance on reparations (HT: Verum Serum):

We should strive to nominate judges who will rule by the guidelines of the Constitution…. but in Liu’s case, would that be the “evolving” Constitution, interpreted as you wish, depending on current culture?:

“What we mean by fidelity is that the Constitution should be interpreted in ways that adapt its principles and its text to the challenges and conditions of our society in every succeeding generation.”

By continuing to place those in judicial positions who have such clear intentions, I think we are getting far from the original intent of the Founders and treading on thin ice. Consider this from Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Jarvis, Sept. 28, 1820 :

“To consider the [Supreme Court] judges the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power and . . . privilege. Their power is the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal.”

They obviously understood back then that these judges were human beings who would not always be able to resist the urge to judge according to their own opinions. I am not saying Liu is a bad person because I don’t agree with his ideology. I am saying that he has made it clear what his progressive end game would be in interpreting the law, and that’s not how I view the job description of a judge on any level. It would be impossible to find nominees who had no ideology whatsoever, but when we allow nominees to be confirmed with such extreme ideologies, we are allowing the scales to be tipped beyond future balance.

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