Monday, October 31, 2005

It is "put up" or "shut up" time for liberals!

Today my father forwarded me an e-mail with a letter written by Professor Walter Murphy of Princeton University. Prof. Murphy has written an open letter on the nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. It seems that Prof. Murphy taught Judge Alito when he was an undergraduate at Princeton. First off, let me say that I would hate to be judged for a job by one of my undergraduate professors. Anyways, the letter reads as follows (please note the bolded parts in particular):

“As I recall, during 1970-72, I had Sam in two courses in at least one of which he was in a precept (seminar of about 10) I conducted and, in 1971-72, supervised his senior thesis on the Italian Constitutional Court. We have stayed in intermittent touch since.

”Sam was probably the most judicious student I ever had. He had (and still has) a keen intelligence and a fine sense of justice. When he voiced a judgment, he typically began by fairly stating the arguments on either side then offering his own conclusion, with a clear explanationof his reasoning. One might disagree with him but always respect his reasoning and intellectual integrity.

”Sam had a close friend who was equally as bright when we worked together at Princeton. I predicted that his friend would become a famous prosecutor and Sam would become a famous judge. I was happy to see that at least half of that prediction came true.

”I should be clear that my pleasure at his nomination is not ideologically based. Over the years, our views on some important matters of constitutional interpretation have differed. He is much more an Anti-federalist where state and national authority clash, more libertarian on issues such as gun control, and much tighter on some matters as the rights of the criminally accused than I. We, however, agree on other important issues, such as finding no constitutional barrier to bans on late term abortions and requiring spousal and parental notification of impending abortions.

”Our fundamental difference concerns reliance on what is euphemistically (and foolishly) called ‘original understanding.’ We don't know and, more crucially, can't know how white American males "understood" the Constitution in 1787-88 beyond what the text itself says in its Preamble. Moreover, it would be difficult to justify those understandings, even if we knew what they were, of such a restricted group as now controlling a country that abhors slavery, accepts religious and ethnic diversity as well as racial and sexual equality, and has become a sprawling industrial empire, part of an electronically linked world. As Charles Curtis put it almost 60 years ago, what the founding generation said, they said; the rest they left to us.

”Back more specifically to Sam: He has been a fine judge, a person of deep integrity as well as intelligence. Assuming he is confirmed, as I hope -- despite our serious differences -- he will be, he will bring those characteristics to the Supreme Court. I do not think that Bush will nominate a more qualified or fairer minded person. Indeed, I confess surprise that a man so dreadfully intellectually and morally challenged as George W. Bush would want a person as intellectuallygifted, independent, and morally principled as Sam Alito on the bench.


Great, so Sam Alito feels that a 12 year old girl that has been raped by her father must ask his permission for an abortion. Look, I'm not pro-abortion. I think there is nothing that is a more clear sign of "lack of character" then having gotten yourself into the situation where that is an option. But there are specific statistical outliers that need to be addressed. Until Congress steps up and defends a woman's right to choose and protects rape victims, mothers with pregnancy complications, and others that I can't think of off the top of my head, then I want NO part of Sam Alito or his fascist cabal.

Perhaps we need to stop looking at it as pro-choice and pro-life and look at it at pro-mothers-life! I love pro-lifers who have absolutely no problem potentially (and I mean only potentially) ruining a mothers life to protect a child. Many of these new families end up in poverty. They often result in single parent families, and while that can be a success, the odds are not in their favor. Many new mothers are forced to drop out of school, develop psychological issues if trauma occurred in the conception (i.e. rape/date-rape), or are cast out by family and friends, to name a few. They are left poor and alone and need help. Some end up resenting their children.

These are the same conservatives that are against social programs designed to help not only the mothers, but the children. Perhaps if they felt so strongly about the children conservatives would not abandon them after birth to no health care, poor schools and little to no future prospects. I love how Bush jumped out of the frying pan. Let’s hope the left is tough enough to ensure that he lands in the fire. Somehow, I doubt it!

The second point that I would like to make regards “original understanding”. This phrase should absolutely not slip by anyone without notice. Original understanding refers to the a particular view of some constitutional legal scholars who claim that the constitution is an all encompassing document that was written infallibly. These people view the constitution similarly to the way Muslims view the Qu’ran; as a document that cannot be questioned or second guessed. And while Muslims have a rationale for this (i.e. the Qu’ran is the word of God), strict interpretationalists’ cannot possibly expect us to believe that a slave owning Virginian named James Madison from the Tidewater was omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent. I don’t think so. Not even David Ortiz is infallible (as great as “Papi” is).

There are already two strict interpretationalists on the Supreme Court; Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. When a legal scholar brings up original understanding, let us be clear what we are talking about. That is, every liberal and progressive person’s worst nightmare. It is time to saddle up the ponies and ride to the OK Corral; I think it’s time for the metaphorical “shoot-out” over judges who hold a stone aged legal philosophy. I thought the purpose of each generation was to make progress both technologically and intellectually.


Splitting Cellos said...

Interesting post... much more objective than the majority of blogs... some of which I might add are even used as sources on CBS News. Politics? How do you feel about the war in Iraq?

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent piece.