I’ll admit, I was fooled at first.
John Roberts looks like a reasonable man. Oh, does he look reasonable. Read his opinions. He is the model of a modern enlightened logical jurist. Of course, his rulings always end up in favor of the corporations, the police, and the rich and powerful. But the lovely words he uses to get there!
He may be an intellectual giant compared to Clarence Thomas, but he will probably rule exactly the same way on every issue.
Roberts has stated to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he is “no ideologue”. That is about as close to perjury as you get. No– that is perjury. Roberts is either so seriously deluded that he cannot be considered fit for office, or a liar. I say, he is a liar.
[2022-05 Lawrence Tribe has done an excellent piece illustrating, among other things, how a Justice of the Supreme Court could earnestly believe that the mental framework and cultural affiliation of a justice could lead them to conclude that specific rulings on particular issues are “objective” because they congenial to that framework, when we know that the framework itself is the product of implicit bias.]
Mr. Roberts is an extremist, a radical, an authoritarian. Here is the best evidence, aside from all the rulings– I mean, all of his rulings– in favor of corporations and the police: Mr. Roberts was on a panel of judges that heard an appeal of the notorious french fry case from the city of Washington, Hedgepeth vs. Washington.
A 12-year-old girl entered a subway station with French fries. Contrary to the law, she ate a fry. A policeman saw her do this and arrested her. He made her put down the French fry and her backpack and lay down on her stomach. Then he hand-cuffed her.
We are talking about a 12-year-old girl here. Eating a French fry. A big, burly, powerful policeman. Handcuffs. I am not making this up.
We’re talking about an psycho adult police officer, who was supposedly trained in something or another. I mean that– psycho. Do you think it’s normal for an adult male to want to handcuff a 12-year-old girl for eating a French fry? Was he trained to assume that a 12-year-old girl could threaten him physically? Does a normal adult male make a strange 12-year-old girl lay face down on the floor while he handcuffs her so she won’t hurt him and flea from the charge of eating a french fry on a subway platform?
Just how many fugitive french fry eaters are there at any given time?
If you dare to defend Judge Roberts’ ruling in this case, it would be as hard for me to argue with you and it would be for me to argue against a Mormon or Scientologist or faith-healer or member of the NRA. You’ve lost your mind.
In detail: the ingenious Judge Roberts ruled that since the interests of the state are served by discouraging juvenile delinquency, the actions of the police were justified. The government may go around and force little girls to lay down on the pavement so they can be handcuffed for eating French fries on subway platforms. That might not seem nice, but that’s just too bad.
[That’s like saying that since the interests of the state are served by discouraging obesity the government may ban fast food outlets from serving French fries. You see, Roberts said that the state was interested in “discouraging juvenile delinquency”. He didn’t say that there was no constitutional requirement to arrest juvenile delinquents– unless it is is in the interests of the state, just as the constitution doesn’t require the government to fight obesity… unless…a state decides that can. March 2011]
There is no exception for common sense, sanity, reasonableness, humanity, compassion, or having a brain. It makes no difference that the girl was 12-years-old. It makes no difference that we live on a planet called Earth that is round and that revolves around the sun. Facts are facts.
That is the world Judge Roberts inhabits. That is a world that makes sense to him because the man, for all his cool, calm, detached manners, has no sensibility at all. He has absolutely no common sense, no humanity, and probably no human feeling. This is a man who grew up in a privileged, insulated environment, and who never in his entire life came face-to-face with the gritty reality of street crime and poverty. He clerked for rich white judges appointed by rich white politicians funded by rich white corporations. When he is confronted by a case of a poor black man who was beaten up by the police after he robbed someone because his family was starving– you never know, might happen–, he’s going to think, in the back of his tiny little brain, “why didn’t he just buy some food?”
You won’t find anything in his biography about military service, volunteerism, missionary activities, or travels to exotic locales. This is a guy who lives in Republican gingerbread houses with gingerbread nannies and gingerbread rules. Twelve-year old girls eating French fries bring disorder and confusion. But Roberts knows better than to say “we like locking up 12-year-old girls for eating French fries.” He can’t say that– it’s too bald and too real. So he says, twelve-year-old girls can become delinquents. Delinquents must be locked up.
Then he says, I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry. I’m really very, very sorry. But the 12-year-old girl must be locked up in a police car and taken downtown and fingerprinted and photographed and detained. That is the kind of thing that is necessary to sustain Judge Roberts’ gingerbread world.
And all they talk about is abortion and voting rights and gay marriage. Even the Democrats.
The Republicans have so skewed the political debate in the U.S. that nobody even questioned the fact that Bush overtly declared that he was going to load the court with conservative partisans, as if that is how appointments to the Supreme Court should be made.
The fact is, abortion (and gun rights) have always been a red herring for conservative politics which is only and ever concerned with preserving the status, wealth, and privilege of propertied white men.
It’s a wedge issue. The most convincing evidence of this? Compare the rulings of the same judges (anti-abortion, pro-gun, pro-patriotism) with their rulings on corporate law, workers rights, unions, pensions, investment funds, corporate liability, and so on. They are absolutely uniform. Those are the rulings that really matter to Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republican toadstools.
It’s too late. Roberts will be confirmed. He won’t be the worst justice on the Supreme Court, but that’s only because of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.