Wednesday :: Aug 17, 2005

Why Bother Pretending To Oppose Roberts?

by pessimist

Despite my regular support for Democratic Party positions, I am not a Democrat. Too many times the Democratic party has left me feeling used and abused - but not near as often as the only other major party allowed in our decidedly undemocratic Winner-Takes-All Republic.

So to you wrong-wingers I say: don't even suggest that option!

Should the day ever come that the United States returns to a more-than-one-party rule, I really hope that people look at the record of the two-party system and decide that it hasn't worked. Considering the abuses enacted when one party or the other feels immune from voter backlash, can one seriously argue that the system works for the common American?

In George Washington's Farewell Address, he warned us about the corruption which occurs at the expense of the commonweal of the nation when 'factions' gain power. In today's language, a 'faction' is a special interest. And when one looks at the record of Judge John Roberts, one can see clearly that he is a tool of conservative special interests - interests whose views do not take into account the commonweal - and the Democrats are going to let him pass confirmation unmolested!

In a series of interviews in recent days, more than a dozen Democratic senators and aides who are intimately involved in deliberations about strategy said they see no evidence that most Democratic senators are prepared to expend political capital in what is seen as a likely futile effort to derail Roberts.

Isn't this called surrendering before the battle has begun?

Although they expect to subject President Bush's nominee to tough questioning at confirmation hearings next month, members of the minority party said they do not plan to marshal any concerted campaign against Roberts because they have concluded that he is likely to get at least 70 votes -- enough to overrule parliamentary tactics such as a filibuster that could block the nominee. "We . . . will show we took the constitutional process seriously," the aide said.

No, you won't. If you took the constitutional process seriously, there wouldn't already be 70 votes lined up to support a man whose agenda is clearly to assist with the establishment of a Christian theocracy in America.

If the saying that one knows a man by the company he keeps is valid, start with religious hypocrite George W. Bu$h. Then look to power-mad Tom DeLay and his plans to emasculate the Supreme Court's power to subject law to constitutional review.

Then there is the unprecedented support for Roberts from the National Association of Manufacturers, whose leader, Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, says:

"Too often, hard fought gains made in the Congress or the executive branch can be lost in the judiciary. Given the stakes, we can no longer sit on the sidelines."

And why does a manufacturing group - one which shed 3 million jobs since 2001 - care about the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice?

Engler, who leads the nation's largest industrial trade association, said a large portion of the court's docket directly affects business interests and the manufacturing sector on issues such as regulations, employment law and property rights.

So how does Roberts fit in to this? Like a hand in a custom-made glove:

Engler said a panel, comprised of executives from the association's member companies, unanimously endorsed Roberts. Their criteria included Roberts' judicial temperament, willingness to interpret the law, and understanding of the consequences of the court's decisions on business.

In reverse order.

One of these 'understandings' will involve the "radical" idea of "comparable worth" to create pay equality between men and women.

As a Reagan White House attorney in 1984, John G. Roberts criticized ... Olympia Snowe, now a senator from Maine, and key moderate member of the Senate, who will be voting on Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court: "Their slogan may as well be 'From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender.' "

The criticism, a parody of a Marxist slogan, came in a Feb. 20, 1984, memo that Roberts wrote to his boss, White House counsel Fred Fielding.

Snowe said yesterday she hoped that 21 years later Roberts had an open mind on wage discrimination against women and that she would evaluate his views and record.

But she will still vote for him anyway.

And what if you are disabled by relaxed work safety rule enforcement? Don't think YOU are going to get a free ride in a company-paid wheelchair!

Judge Roberts: Bad news for the disabled?

[Attribution added by request of the original author]

Mary Johnson

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law, intended to protect anyone against discrimination based on disability -- just as the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964 now protects anyone against discrimination based on race, religion or gender.

[Roberts] actions as attorney have seriously hurt the law.

Not long after Ella Williams took a job at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Ky., moving her family all the way across the state because she was so happy to have landed a job alongside other assembly line workers whose average annual pay was $62,000, she "got lumps the size of a hen's egg in my wrists, and my hands and fingers got curled up like animal claws."

Repetitive-stress injuries -- RSI -- accounted for more than a third of the 1.7 million workplace injuries reported in 1999, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Williams was one of those statistics. "I used pneumatic tools that really vibrated, and I was always having to reach above my head," she explained.

She pressed Toyota for accommodation. She got some; but later she was put back on another assembly-line job that hurt her wrists again. After a number of legal skirmishes, Toyota eventually dismissed her.

Ella Williams' fight against Toyota went all the way to the Supreme Court. John Roberts argued Toyota of Kentucky's case before the Court in 2001. He insisted that the Americans with Disabilities Act wasn't meant for workers with disabilities like repetitive stress injury.

Roberts was able to convince the justices. Williams was not "truly disabled," said the Court, and had no right to benefit from the law.

With such a ruling in hand, the manufacturers are now free to work people as hard as they wish, with no thought to your health or safety, until you are no longer able to earn a living. Then they are free to cast you aside without any financial liability to upset the bottom line.

Then there is the issue of public education. While our national government does almost nothing to stem the flow of wage-busting illegal workers into America (something that benefits the National Association of Manufacturers!), John Roberts is against educating their children:

In a memo he wrote as a special counsel to Attorney General William French Smith on June 15, 1982, Judge Roberts lamented the department's failure to support a Texas statute authorizing local school districts to deny enrollment to illegal aliens, which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in a 5-4 vote.

In what would turn out to be a landmark case for the rights of illegal aliens, the majority of the court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that it was "difficult to understand precisely what [Texas] hopes to achieve by promoting the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries," and declared that the 14th Amendment requiring equal protection under the law also applied to noncitizens.

No wonder Engler promotes Roberts! This court obviously doesn't understand the consequences of the court's decision on business! How else are you going to keep the costs of picking tomatoes low? If you can't work the kids alongside the parents because they are in school, how are you going to get your crop out of the field?

But don't try to stop the promotion of mandatory school prayer if they somehow sneak into class!

Roberts is also very friendly to other economic interests, such as the coal miners who would rip the coal out of the ground and walk away from the huge tailing mess they would create in the process.

The Commerce Clause

John Dean wants the Senate to ask Roberts about his views on the exercise of the Commerce Clause:

Hot-button issues like abortion, flag-burning, school prayer, homosexual rights, and the like, are of great concern to only some subset - albeit, in some cases, a large subset -- of Americans. In contrast the issue of the scope of the powers of the U.S. Congress under Article I, section 8 of the Constitution - which gives Congress the power to "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states" -- has significance for every American. This Constitutional provision is the foundation of a wide range of laws protecting the environment, civil rights, consumers, labor, and public health and safety.
Pull this cornerstone out, as many conservatives would like to do, and the federal government will be returned to its late-Nineteenth-Century status of being unable to effectively protect Americans.

Remember - this assertion comes from a True Conservative!

The Supreme Court's 1995 decision in United States v. Lopez, and its 2000 decision in United States v. Morrison ... have brought great confusion not only to lower federal courts, but also to the Congress - which is now unclear on the scope of its own powers.

Historically, the Supreme Court had held that Congress could regulate local activities only if the activity "directly" affected interstate or foreign commence. That less-than-precise standard was, notoriously, used by the Supreme Court to block President Franklin D. Roosevelt's efforts to legislatively stabilize the depressed economy.

Accordingly, that standard gave way in 1937 to a new standard, the ruling in NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin. As described by Chief Justice Rehnquist in Morrison, NLRB gave Congress "considerably greater latitude in regulating conduct and transactions under the Commerce Clause than our previous case law permitted."

More than sixty years passed, during which stare decisis reigned, and precedent was respected.

This is why the 'ruling' that gave corporations equal rights to human beings under the Constitution - SANTA CLARA COUNTY v. SOUTHERN PAC. R. CO. has been observed even though there is no other legal principle in jurisprudence to support such a contention.

But I digress.

And then, in 1995 and 2000, with Lopez and Morrison, the Court abandoned sixty years of precedent - as Chairman Specter noted in his letter [to Judge Roberts] - to attempt a return to the standard that would have left FDR hamstrung, and the nation mired in a Depression.

In Lopez and Morrison, the modern Rehnquist Court all but declared that Congress could not regulate local matters, under the Commerce Clause, if those matters had no "economic" value.

Implicit in this ruling is the judicial myth that non-economic matters do not impact interstate commerce. But as common sense would suggest, they do: There is no way to crisply separate business out from the rest of the life of the nation.

As a result of Lopez and Morrison, existing federal civil rights, public safety and other laws that rely on the Commerce Clause may now also be vulnerable to being held unconstitutional by the High Court.
This is relevant to Judge Roberts's confirmation hearing because, in a recent ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Roberts indicated that he thought that Lopez and Morrison, as broad as they are, ought to have been interpreted even more broadly - and the Commerce Clause, even more narrowly.

If Judge Roberts fails to respond to Chairman Specter's questions, he will be playing a dangerous game of stonewalling. There is nothing in the ABA Canons that precludes him from explaining his Commerce Clause jurisprudence. Thus, if Roberts thinks the U.S. Congress is relatively powerless under the Commerce Clause provision, he is free to say so - and it is only fair that he should.

If that is his thinking, then the U.S. Senate can decide if it wants to diminish its powers by placing Judge Roberts on the High Court.

Remember - John Dean is no flaming liberal, and he is concerned about what confirming John Roberts as Supreme Court Justice will mean for this nation.

A common conservative straw man is 'judicial activism', which is defined as anything a liberal judge wants to do to define a law. What are we to think about a conservative justice candidate who advises others on how to detour around observance of a law?

[Roberts] once advised two Methodist ministers how to skirt the U.S. Flag Code in order to display religious flags and insignia above the American flag, writing, "If some church gives its flag the place of prominence over the Stars and Stripes, the pastor is hardly going to be sent up the river."

The US Flag Code states:

Sec. 7.(c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy.

I don't recall any mention of a US Navy vessel or an at-sea service for sailors in the article.

But just try to avoid observing the law if you aren't either a Christian minister or a business entity!

From past actions such as these, it is clear to me that if Roberts is confirmed, he opens the door to other candidates whose views will be very similar. With enough of these on the Court, it will be likely that the road to a Christian theocracy will be paved.

And the Democrats fiddle while Rome burns!

Just do us a favor, Dems! Stop pretending that you are going to do what you are not. Maybe then we can bring about the sort of political system this country desperately needs - assuming we ever get control again.

Confirm Roberts, and there is an excellent likelihood that the Republic is dead - and the Corporatocracy is born.

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