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LACK OF JUDGMENT:
ARE SOME TOO QUICK TO EMBRACE JOHN ROBERTS?
Sept. 29, 2005
From his response to a questionnaire submitted to the Senate Judiciary
Committee, it has been reported Supreme Court nominee John Roberts has
pledged to honor established precedent if confirmed as a jurist to the
nation’s highest court. While such posturing might be an elaborate
rhetorical ploy to throw off the snarling liberal jackals off his trail, it
does not bode well for the nation if such sentiments are actually an
accurate summation of his legal philosophy.
In defense of his position, Judge Roberts continued, “Precedent plays an
important role in promoting the stability of the legal system. A sound
judicial philosophy should reflect recognition of the fact that the judge
operates within a system of rules developed over the years by other
judges...They do not have a commission to solve society’s problems...but
simply to decide cases before them according to the rule of law.”
But what precedents are you going to abide by, Mr. Roberts? And if he lacks
the courage to step out from behind the judicial shadow, should he be
entrusted with a position that requires a backbone beneath the black robe?
While he is correct that it is not the role of judges to solve all of
society’s problems, that pony has been out of the gate for quite a while
now. One might be able to make an argument that it’s been all downhill
since Marbury v. Madison.
When Judge Roberts pledges to uphold precedent, exactly where does his
fealty to the rulings of his predecessors end? Should a case come before
the Court in need of clarifying the extent of the case allowing municipal
authorities to snatch private property on behalf of developers, will Roberts
have enough manhood in his gavel to sweep away this appalling ruling or will
he stand by the figure he has cut for himself as a wimp and obsequiously
adhere to a decision simply because some other judge more confident about
asserting themselves ethically handed down the decision whether or not the
decision has anything to do with the Constitution as originally envisioned?
In other statements, Judge Roberts contends he has no opinion one way or the
other regarding law that has already been decided. Perhaps he should be
reminded that history does not look kindly upon men that hide behind skirts,
even if the dress in question happens to be a judge’s robe.
Had Judge Roberts lived in other times, one wonders if he would have
possessed the courage to break with decisions now considered to be infamous
tragedies of American jurisprudence. At one time Dred Scott was precedent;
at one time Separate But Equal was precedent. And in this time of war,
anyone concerned about the abridgements of liberties that breakout in such
turbulent periods such as the curtailment of speech and internment camps
should be deeply concerned about any jurist so eager to enunciate a
Rulings such as Dred Scott or Plessy v. Ferguson were not right at the time
they were handed down nor did they somehow magically become wrong with the
passage of time. They were always wrong because they violated an eternal,
transcendent standard and not because of their failure to conform to
changing social sensibilities.
Francis Schaeffer observed in A Christian Manifesto of the
contemporary judicial climate, “By sociological law we mean law that has no
fixed base but law in which a group of people decides what is sociologically
good for society at the given moment; and what they arbitrarily decide
becomes law (41).” Thus it is from within such an intellectual framework
that Judge Roberts is capable of claiming a fidelity to legal precedent
while lending his legal expertise to the efforts to mainstream sodomy.
The standard in such a legal context is no longer so much right and wrong or
good and evil as it is “stability” in Robert’s words or “peace and
affluence” as Dr. Schaeffer use to warn. But if these are to serve as the
highest legal ideals, would the slaves have ever been freed since the
Antebellum world might have remained “stable” if it hadn’t been for those
pesky abolitionists and those insisting upon their God given right to live
And this is ultimately the crux of the entire debate: do we see rights as
coming from God or do we see rights as coming from the state? For if our
rights come from God, they cannot be legitimately taken away from those
living within His revealed standards since God is perfect, all knowing, and
unchanging. But if we see our rights as coming from the state, they are
dependent upon alterable conditions and the fluctuating whims of magistrates
since government is flawed, dimwitted, and changeable.
Realizing this is the only way to overcome America’s crisis in
jurisprudence. Although contemporary establishmentarian conservatives have
an inkling something is out of whack, their proposed solutions will do
little to halt the ongoing decline of this great Republic.
This disturbing shortcoming was particularly evident in a April 28, 2005
White House press conference when President Bush responded to a question
about what he thought about comments by Tony Perkins of the Family Research
Council that Democrats oppose Bush’s judicial nominees on religious grounds.
The President responded he did not think his nominees were being opposed
on religious grounds but as a matter of judicial philosophy. But where does
the President think one’s judicial philosophy comes from exactly?
One is not going to want babykillers to assume the highest legal offices in
the land if one truly loves God and strives to keep His commandments.
Likewise, if one does not think God exists or merely does as some kind of
celestial buffoon for human amusement smiling upon anything and everything
that titillates our basest passions, one is going to do everything within
one’s power to curb the influence of jurists not seeing such debaucheries as
some kind of innate liberty or the effort to curb such an infringement upon
those freedoms that are.
Throughout the course of his ministry analyzing Western culture in light of
Biblical principles, Francis Schaeffer warned that a conservative Humanism
is little better than a liberal Humanism. For whereas liberal ones seek to
recast all of society in their own radical image, the conservative ones ---
though not as abrupt with their agenda of cultural transformation --- are so
sold out to the spirit of the age that they eventually come to endorse
positions they would have considered scandalous just a short time ago. And
where Justice Roberts decides to stand amidst this grand struggle will
determine the future of America for decades to come.
Copyright 2005 by Frederick Meekins
Frederick B. Meekins - Washington, DC - Frederick Meekins is an Internet columnist. He holds a BS from the University of Maryland in Political Science/History and a MA in Apologetics & Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Practical Theology through the Master's Graduate School Of Divinity in Evansville, Indiana.
In the future, Frederick plans to continue publishing his commentaries and hopefully compile them into a self-published book. Frederick's research interests include Worldview Applicaiton, Christian Apologetics, The Implications of Aberrant Theologies & Ideologies, Futurology, Eschatology, Science Fiction, Terrorism Studies, Environmentalism, Education Policy and America's Judeo-Christian Foundations.
Frederick is also an ordained Non-Denominational Minister and listed in "Who's Who In America".
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