Wednesday, July 27, 2005

John Roberts: affirming rights or not

The Inky has a story about a 1997 interview with recent Supremes nominee John Roberts about a SCotUS decision regarding assisted suicide:
"I think it's important not to have too narrow a view of protecting personal rights," Roberts said on PBS's The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. "The right that was protected in the assisted-suicide case was the right of the people, through their legislatures, to articulate their own views on the policies that should apply in those cases of terminating life, and not to have the court interfering in those policy decisions. That's an important right."
Instead of arguing about Scripture or morality, Inky reporter Steve Henderson argues, Roberts' statement could be perceived as Roberts' support for the right of people to make their own decisions regarding termination of life and court deference to policy decisions based on the will of the people.

The remarks by Roberts - President Bush's nominee for a seat on the Supreme Court - are revealing, court watchers say. They speak to principles of judicial restraint and nonintervention that are evident in much of his record. Roberts sees limits on federal authority not just as a stricture carefully written into the Constitution but also as an affirmative protection of individual rights.

They could also be perceived as supporting the imposition of the will of the majority on the minority when it comes to legislating a ban or limiting rights. This statement serves as yet another example of a man with a reportedly brilliant legal mind who knows full well how to couch answers to the most loaded of questions, while keeping most people guessing how certain they are of his actual intent. We may not like what we expect his rulings will be on critical issues, but unlike the obvious idealogues, Roberts will be able to dazzle us with the sheer brilliance (and loop-hole mining) of decisions he renders. Then again, he may floor us with some suprises none of us quite expects.

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