(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Monday, July 22, 2002

Howard Bashman links to an op-ed by Terry Eastland (I just can't bring myself to link to it directly). We've seen the opponents of 5th Circuit nominee Priscilla Owen claiming that Alberto Gonzales called her a judicial activist when they were both on the Texas Supreme Court. This is pretty much taken as true in all the media reports. Eastland says it's not right, and that Gonzales was really talking about one (or more, maybe) of the other Justices. I hate to say it, but I will because there's virtue in honesty: from having skimmed the opinion in question this weekend, I think Eastland's probably right. (I'm not saying that Owen's dissent was well-reasoned, or that Eastland is right in her opinion about her, or that she'd be a good federal judge; just that it seems probably true that Gonzales was not aiming the "judicial activist" label at her dissenting opinion but at one or more of the others). I wish that I didn't, because my bet is that, if confirmed to the Fifth Circuit, Justice Owen will issue many decisions with which I vehemently disagree. But -- consistent with what I said a couple of days ago -- I think it's more important that these nomination battles be fought based on actual useful information about the nominee's record and philosophy. If her record shows that she's a judicial activist on behalf of corporations, police, pro-lifers, etc., then that IS a good reason to oppose her nomination; but it doesn't have to be on the basis of a not-quite-correct "gotcha" to Gonzales. When politics (even the politics of law) is ALL spin, as it's rapidly becoming (with most of the blame going to the Right, as shown for instance by the "outrage" on the Pledge decision), then there's no hope for sustained progress.

posted by sam 11:51 AM 0 comments


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