Friday, February 1, 2008

Oh, Romney

I put on some NPR during my drive down to hockey, and they were airing the Republican debate. I managed to catch about half an hour of it, and while I can't say I agreed with all of their stances, it was a good debate. One thing really got my goat, though.

The moderator at one point asked the candidates what they thought of Sandra Day O'Connor, and whether Reagan erred in appointing her. Now, I'll admit a bias here on my part: I think O'Connor was great. Still, I can see that she doesn't exactly embody the current Republican movement, so they can't get completely behind her. McCain answered that while he doesn't want to second-guess Reagan, he'd rather have someone more like Roberts or Alito. Okay, that I can buy; I don't love their views and I'm not totally crazy about their judicial philosophy, but they are certainly competent and I can't really complain about them being on the bench.

Romney echoed McCain's answered, but added that he'd also rather have another Scalia or Thomas. I'm not even sure how to convey my views on that without sounding like an extremist; I think both of them, and Thomas in particular, have no business being on the court. Thomas is so far out that even Scalia called him "a nut." Here's the problem: it's one thing to have conservatives on the bench, and I even think that's healthy — I don't want a one-sided bench (is that just a chair?). I don't agree with "textualism" or "originalism" or whatever you want to call it, but on the other hand it's probably not a bad thing to have one or two guys looking out to say, "hm, do we really have this jurisdiction?" But when there are only nine people in a group, you lose a lot by having two of them be so far from the rest that they're practically outcasts — and proud of it! Thomas once went an entire term without saying a single word during oral arguments.

Wanting to appoint a judge who has a similar political bent as you is fine. But the last thing we need is another Scalia or Thomas; and I'd say the same of a left-leaning pariah as well.

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