Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Wicked! Tricksey!"

Very interesting observations on Ruth Ginsberg's appearance before the Senatorial inquisition, uh questioning following her nomination to the Supremes are here: Federalist Society. It is a PDF file and makes very clear what sorts of questions a judge should not answer and why. Please read the whole article; it is revelatory.

Here is what I think. All hypothetical questions posed are irrelevant. Why? How does a case make it to the Supreme Court? What conditions propel it there? Not the questions asked by these lightweights, but those unanswered questions of the cases themselves. To speculate about possible answers to unasked questions is backwards. Would the Senators ask nominees to speculate about cases? "Mr. So and So, please invent a case for us, include every possible fact, circumstance, condition, contingency, plantiff, defendant, statute, witness, argument, coun-terargument, brief, notation, dissent, footnote and dates of occurance of all, and tell us your decision. "This is what is being asked when the, "How would you decide this" questions are asked.
The dumbness of these questions is paralleled by sports announcer's questions. "Did you ever imagine what you would be thinking if you ever imagined you would win like this?" Or, as was asked of ( my teammate) University of Missouri sprinter Mel Grey at the Big Eight Track & Field Championships in 1971, "Mel, you just won the hundred yard dash, in a few minutes you'll be running the 220. What's the biggest difference between those two races?". The questioner stuck a microphone with a bulb the size of a grapefuit in Mel's face. He paused. Licked his upper lip. "About 120 yards." Another example. I heard an info-babe ask an astronaut in the shuttle program about what would be that astronaut's first spacewalk. "What do you think you will be thinking when that door opens." Dumb, dumber, and Leahy, Kennedy, Schumer, Feinstein, Boxer and Durban.

One of my favorite films is A Man for All Seasons, with Paul Scofield as Thomas More. During his trial, Cromwell says,

Cromwell: Now, Sir Thomas, you stand on your silence.
Sir Thomas More: I do.
Cromwell: But, gentlemen of the jury, there are many kinds of silence. Consider first the silence of a man who is dead. Let us suppose we go into the room where he is laid out, and we listen: what do we hear? Silence. What does it betoken, this silence? Nothing; this is silence pure and simple. But let us take another case. Suppose I were to take a dagger from my sleeve and make to kill the prisoner with it; and my lordships there, instead of crying out for me to stop, maintained their silence. That would betoken! It would betoken a willingness that I should do it, and under the law, they will be guilty with me. So silence can, according to the circumstances, speak! Let us consider now the circumstances of the prisoner's silence. The oath was put to loyal subjects up and down the country, and they all declared His Grace's title to be just and good. But when it came to the prisoner, he refused! He calls this silence. Yet is there a man in this court - is there a man in this country! - who does not know Sir Thomas More's opinion of this title?
Crowd in court gallery: No!
Cromwell: Yet how can this be? Because this silence betokened, nay, this silence was, not silence at all, but most eloquent denial!
Sir Thomas More: Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is "Qui tacet consentiret": the maxim of the law is "Silence gives consent". If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.
Cromwell: Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?
Sir Thomas More: The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.

Our own noble Senators seem likely to judge according to less than half their wits. They are secreting themselves away to ponder the great questions and issues. Un huh. B.S. Will any of the above Senators ever vote yes on Judge Roberts? Which of them will say, "You know, I just read this about the Judge, and I'm convinced he will be terrific. I vote Yes." Anybody believe that will happen? (I have a bridge to show you, it's cheap.) Then what exactly are they doing? Two things. One: trying to dig up all the corpses, bodies, skeletons, blue dresses, wilted prom corsages, running-out-of-gas on a date episodes, dangling modifiers, split infinitives, disgreements between subject and predicate, verb tense errors, 'i' before 'e' except after 'c' flubs, and red wine with fish faux pas going back to his 16th birthday. "This rolling stop on a Friday night after his High School football team's victory over crosstown rival Keyboard Select, despite the high spirits of their first victory since 1763, raises serious questions about Judge Robert's ability to separate legal questions from contaminated manure...blah, bleah, blab." And two: the Dims are covering their faces with their asses, and vice versa. If there is nothing that would bring the above paperweights to a yes vote, all the reasons they will give for their no votes are spurious. Made up. Lies. Contaminated manure. If they could be honest for one minute, for even the half life of Roentgenium, they might say, "Well, Judge Roberts is certainly qualified for the court, but I simply refuse to vote for any conservative for any reason whatsoever. And besides, I want to continue aborting babies. Plus I like power, and don't want to give away even a quark of it." That would at least be a genuine reply. Distasteful, dissolute, disgraceful. But honest. Never happen. Not in the half life of Cesium-137. But they have to make up the reasons ahead of time. Everything weighed to a nicety in their scales of malice. "Wicked! Tricksey! We hates them!"

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