November 07, 2003

Confirmation politics, v.2

I posted some of my thoughts on the judicial confirmation process a few days ago, in the context of the nomination of Janice Brown to the federal appeals court. Here's a collection of other comments. Since then, George W. Bush has signed the partial-birth abortion ban into law and reminded us of why it's important to focus on a judge's ideology.

Regardless of your views on partial-birth abortions (or, to maintain my political neutrality, "partial-birth abortions"), it is the case that the judiciary has appropriated for itself significant authority over this area of policy. If the judges think it should be legal, then it will be, in the absence of a Constitutional amendment. And their determination of its legality will turn on their ideology--there are principled judges with respect for the law and a disdain for "results-oriented" jurisprudence that come out on both sides of this issue.

We care about this because the question of abortion goes to the heart of our moral views.

The suggestion that the confirmation process should not consider a nominee's ideology is asking us to stop caring about whether fundamental rights are respected, or whether we're tolerating murder for the sake of convenience.

If there's one thing people on both sides of the abortion debate agree on, it's that the compostion of the judiciary matters.

Now, if the judiciary as a whole were to step back and say, "we aren't going to say anything about abortion, period," we might be able to disregard ideology in the confirmation hearings.

Oh, wait. I spoke too soon. In order for us to completely disregard ideology in confirmation hearings, the entire judiciary would have to say "we disclaim all authority to issue any binding rulings on any subject that touches upon what any citizen believes is fundamental and of great importance."

Until then, ideology will be, and should be, central to any confirmation hearing.

Posted by Carey at November 7, 2003 03:37 PM
Comments

Oh, wait. I spoke too soon. In order for us to completely disregard ideology in confirmation hearings, the entire judiciary would have to say "we disclaim all authority to issue any binding rulings on any subject that touches upon what any citizen believes is fundamental and of great importance."

I think there's some excluded middle between that and what you explain earlier.

Posted by: Heidi at November 7, 2003 03:52 PM

Ideology should be a central concern when selecting any person for any position that may have an impact on the rights of others.

The job of the judiciary is to interpret the Constitution. Interpretation incorporates and indeed requires a certain amount of ideological consideration.

Why is this hard to understand?

Posted by: Brian at November 7, 2003 10:49 PM