Posted tagged ‘freedom’

Civics Lesson

May 10, 2009

So it should come as no surprise the NY Times has unveiled an interactive feature that allows readers to make their own selections for the Supreme Court. And it will be even less surprising that these selections have been filtered by the editors, and darling-of-the-moment Sonia Sotomayor tops the list with the most “votes.” Time will tell if the media is finally attempting to just inform us, or if this is the first chapter in a narrative they are building about Judge Sotomayor’s ascent and fall. I hope she’s paid her taxes.

You don’t need me to tell you that Ralph Nader is mentioned nowhere on this rainbow of a list, nor does he even get a mention on the “write-in” sub-list of eleven other names put forth by readers. I duly nominated him myself, but he has yet to receive enough support to place. Remember my first post about the uphill battle?

To Nader-hating naysayers who are tired of hearing about The Man from Winsted, let’s see who NY Times readers view as classical jurists. I confess, ‘twas difficult to tell sometimes whether this was supposed to be a list of Supreme Court candidates or the table of contents of a slightly more political version of People Magazine. Enough readers think that Caroline Kennedy, who thought she should of course sweep un(con)tested into a Senate seat, should now be anointed for the Supreme Court, putting her at number 24 out of 25 on the total list. Does anyone really believe that Caroline Kennedy has a better shot at being on the Supreme Court than Ralph Nader? And if she does, should that make us feel better about the minds that govern this nation?

People who would surely have a place in line ahead of Nader include Hillary Clinton at #19 (up two spots since last week) and Janet Napolitano at #10. Apparently Times readers are unaware that both women already have jobs, neither of which are that cushy, and both of which they have held only for a very short while—barely long enough to fulfill the probationary period for new hires at Wal-Mart. Al Gore and Bill Clinton also make the reader’s list (in that order) despite Gore having no legal training and Mr. Clinton being a disbarred attorney and prohibited from even representing you in traffic court.

The Court has been home to Klansmen, anti-Semites, secessionists, and at least one alleged misogynist. Are we to expect that their judicial philosophies somehow excused all of that? One thing that will probably not be asked of any nominee is his or her view of civic freedom. And yet it seems so fundamental. Robert Bork was shot down after aggressively stating and defending his judicial philosophy, and every nominee since has pretty much skirted the issue. Congress rarely even asks anymore.

What does it mean to be an American, and how does the Supreme Court help to define that? Civic freedom is something that Ralph Nader holds many opinions on, and it has indeed fuelled his career.  And if Obama’s nominee hasn’t spent much time thinking about this question, is that good enough for you?

Here’s what Nader thinks of Civic Freedom. I think it’s a strong indication of the sort of Justice he’d be. And if you can find an argument against him, you should probably run for Senate. Otherwise, no one will ask these questions.