Tuesday, September 06, 2005

And Chief Justice for All

Is John Roberts a good choice for the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice? Will he support gay civil equality? How will he choose to interpret the Constitution? It's hard to know right now. Unfortunately, that hasn't prevented some organizations from coming out and opposing his nomination already.

HRC, NGLTF and PFLAG have already taken the unwise step or rejecting Roberts's nomination. Lambda Legal has instead sent a list of questions to senators that they feel need asking prior to making a decision. These questions are broad-reaching and go beyond simply how Roberts would vote for gay civic equality. They ask important questions relevant to all Americans, but particularly important are questions regarding Robert's view of the right to privacy and how he interprets the Constitution.

Until we hear how he answers these questions, it's very difficult to know if he's a good choice. He may very well be a bad choice; or he may end up being more moderate than we expect. There is some hint of promise in his prior legal work. Many of the criticisms those three organizations level against Roberts object to how he views the power of the courts. Although I agree with some of the criticisms against him, I also believe that for too long we have relied on the courts to rectify civil injustice.

I believe that some of the backlash we have experienced is because we have failed to convince our representatives, our senators, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends and families of the need to pass legislation supportive to our civil rights. Instead, we've fallen back on the courts without bothering to win public approval; it's proven to be a costly mistake in the past couple of years as anti-gay legislation HAS passed. It's a clear signal that we need to worry less about how justices view the role of courts and more about how we rally legislators and the public to our side.

I also have to think that Roberts isn't the most conservative person that could have been nominated. Do we really think that Bush is going to nominate a true moderate? He hasn't made any other type of concession to non-Republicans or non-conservatives. What makes us think defeating Roberts will make Bush pull a better choice out of his hat. I think we need to strongly consider if Roberts may be the best choice we can expect.

I certainly hope these organizations aren't reacting simply because it's Bush's first choice. I also hope they aren't acting out a sense of doing what they hope will be popular, rather than prudent. PFLAG I give some latitude in this area, and some less to NGLTF, but I extend almost no credit to the HRC, which seems to jump on every bandwagon they think will make them look like they're actually doing something.

Roberts could prove to be a disasterous choice for not just gay Americans, but all of our country. But we need more information first. "Bush" usually does equal "bad" but this is a choice we must seriously and thoroughly consider before pronouncing judgment.

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