Hey all. Quick quick stuff before I go (procrastinate) on identifying ants.
The judiciary, part of one of those pesky "separate-but-equal" branches of government, is increasingly under attack as a whole from politicians. I'm going to go out on a limb and characterize them mainly as conservative politicians, and pundits, in the mold of a horrible new book about how the Supreme Court is ruining the US (link to a great discussion of the book by Slate's Dahlia Lithwick). This new book is, take note, written by a conservative, published by the ultra-conservative publishing house Regnery (who have in the past engaged in some, er, questionable tactics to bolster their "best selling" status, as outlined by well-reasoned-critic of the Right-but-flaming-and-unreasonable-Nader-hater Eric Alterman). A conservative, complaining about the Right-leaning Right-Chief-Justiced Rehnquist Supreme Court. Sigh.
Another good piece on the judiciary's attack (though with, in my opinion, mostly ass-wrong proposals for remedies) is here by Jeffrey Rosen, in the Washington Post. He makes good points about the personal attacks on the Supreme Court (though he eagerly remains "nonpartisan" by talking about attacks on the judiciary's independence by the Right AND Left, while being able to give specific examples ONLY of the Right and Bush Administration's attacks on judish. independence -- hackery, or did I misread it? You tell me!) and suggests the remedy is to go back to the good ol' days of judicial opaqueness -- that is, judges should stop making sweeping decisions, claiming the sole right to interpret the Constitution (a polemical opinion, to be sure), stop writing autobiographies (even after they retire), etc. This is clearly claptrap, because it mistakes the idea that not knowing someone's predispositions, proclivities, politics, etc. means they don't have any: He’s apparently asserting that [one] can’t possibly be biased as long as it’s absolutely unclear [to others] what [one] thinks. (From an earlier J post on media "impartiality".) If we know nothing about judges, if they're absolutely mysterious, does that automatically make them wiser and more impartial? Of COURSE not. (J fave Lithwick takes this argument on here in Slate in an analysis that I mostly, though not quite, completely agree with.) So in the end, Rosen comes out with the pre-post-modernism conservative opinion, that being that there are absolutes or near-absolutes (i.e. judicial objectivity), and analysis under a microscope undermines these absolutes (which to me implies they aren't so absolute, but I think the retort is usually that the analysis wrongly gives the impression that they're not absolute, and just unnecessarily confuse people). Judges in a, I don't know, "Ebony Tower" are no more truly objective arbiters of reality than their counterparts in the Ivory Tower of academia (uncoincidentally, another place under siege by conseratives -- sorry this isn't the best article on it but the only one I can find on short notice -- ok, another "ok" one here. I'll come back to this topic some other time -- working title, "The only kind of relativism Conservatives Like").
So get thinking about this. Do we really want ("some little") Judiciary as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Executive and Legislative Branches?
(The answer is: No.)