Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Apples to Oranges

Igglephan, a commenter over at the always interesting libertarian legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, reacts to the following joke posted by Todd Zywicki:

While we all sit waiting for an eventual nominee, I thought I would fill the
time with a joke making the rounds in some conservative legal circles:
Q: Do you know the translation for "Gonzales"?
A: It's Spanish for "Souter."
(Insert rimshot).

Igglephan comments:
That joke is pretty old, but it raises some interesting points. When someone unearths evidence that, as Attorney General of New Hampshire, Justice Souter authorized the indefinite detention of speeders or authored memos as poor as Gonzales' death penalty memos (see the Atlantic story on this), we can talk. Even in his abortion decision, Gonzales let out enough dicta and subtext to suggest how he'd rule on Roe, i.e. his views "as a parent." (Totally in contrast to the idea that abortion is grounded in personal liberty, the very idea that the parent -- or any other person or entity -- could possibly be relevant to the process.) Gonzales should not be on the Court not because he might use his powers of legal reasoning on his own -- the right's apparent objection to Souter, and it's revealatory that the objections are only to the political consequences of his opinions (or dissents!)and never to the quality of his legal reasoning -- but because Gonzales' entire career has revealed a willingness not to concern himself with the Rule of Law, especially the importance of procedural safeguards.

Calling him a "closet moderate" is probably false, just from the record we have, but the specific comparison to Justice Souter, really insults both Souter's independence, legal skill, and professional dedication to the rule of law
Igglephan makes a good point about comparing the two men, though I might go farther and say that Gonzales really seems to have no difficulty in justifying telling the President exactly what he wanted to hear concerning the use of torture and detention, and that should concern anyone, left or right. As Igglephan says, he is less about the rule of law and more about the exercise of authority. That is not something we need in a Supreme Court justice when it comes to personal liberties.
(Crossposted at FloridaBlues)
< Blogarama