Monday, July 14, 2008

This is from EJ Dionne's Column in the Washington Post

…they were writing about the conservative Supreme Court that struck down so much of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program and the effort by FDR to be given the power to name additional liberal justices to break the court's conservative majority. Roosevelt's reach for expanded executive authority was unwise because he made it easy for his opponents to compare him to Hitler and Stalin.

I thought that Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme was unwise because it represented a gross overstepping of executive authority and a complete disregard for our system of checks and balances.

I want to like E.J. Dionne. He teaches at my school, and he has seemed completely reasonable every time I’ve heard him speak. I cannot, however, help but see his column as the sort of polemical, red team vs. blue team thinking that we really need to get beyond. Here’s more:

In knocking down the District's 32-year-old ban on handgun possession, the conservatives on the Supreme Court have again shown their willingness to abandon precedent in order to do whatever is necessary to further the agenda of the contemporary political right.

The court's five most conservative members have demonstrated that for all of Justice Antonin Scalia's talk about "originalism" as a coherent constitutional doctrine, those on the judicial right regularly succumb to the temptation to legislate from the bench. They fall in line behind whatever fashions political conservatism is promoting.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for bashing on your political/ideological opponents, but not when you’re bashing on straw men. This assertion that Scalia and the other conservative justices are just the tools of some larger right-wing “agenda” does not go very far towards making a valid legal or political point. It seems much more likely that they actually believe, both as justices and as citizens, that the Second Amendment grants an individual right and not a collective one.

It’s one thing to criticize people for having opinions that you disagree with, but shouldn’t that criticism be based on finding actual fault with the argument and not just on the fact that you disagree. In other words, it’s fairly ridiculous to criticize conservatives just for being conservative.

No comments: