Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Questions for Bush's Supreme Court Nominee

There's a lot of speculation about President Bush's upcoming Supreme Court nomination. My opinion is that Bush is going to push for a hard-right nomination--maybe family lackey and torture-memo author (and therefore war criminal) Alberto Gonzales. What should the Democrats do in response? What they probably will do is focus on Roe v Wade and try to dig up as much personal dirt as they can on Bush's nominee. That strategy worked with Bork and it almost worked with Thomas. No doubt, the Democratic leadership will dip into the well again. They're nothing if not predictable.Nevertheless, I'd like to suggest some new angles of questioning.First, Harry Reid, Democratic senators, and the left-leaning media should ask Bush nominees how much priority they give to the precedents of prior Supreme Court decisions in their understanding of the law. It's a legitimate question. Besides precedents, there's constitutional principle, statute law, and lower court decisions, and various factual elements to weigh in Supreme Court decisions. So how does a nomineee think that precedents like Brown v Board of Education, Miranda v Arizona, Roe v Wade, Lawrence v Texas and other major decisions should weigh in making current decisions? And the Democrats should press for an answer.A second issue that the Dems should ask about is contraception. The right-wing sees overturning Roe v Wade as only one pillar of their attack on sexual freedom. The second pillar is Griswold v Connecticut, the decision that made it illegal to restrict information about contraception for married couples. The Democrats should question Bush nominees closely about contraception as a way to test the right-wing bonafides of the nominee and to publicize the over-all weirdness of the Christian right.A third thing the Dems could do is question the nominee about the relation between the law and groups that have been subject to "extraordinary government power"--blacks in relation to racism, women in relation to employment, gays, etc. To what extent should the law be tailored to address the discrimination faced by these groups? To what extent should historical precedents continue to apply? To what extent would the nominee want to overthrow such precedents? This is a general way to question nominees on the legitimate power of government, tradition, the Constitution, etc.


Post a Comment

<< Home