Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Impartial Judges?

"Impartial: not partial."

"Partial: favoring one person or side over another or others"

from: "The American Heritage Dictionary," Houghton Mifflin, 2002.


We read and hear these days about the need for Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, to show Congress and the country that he is impartial at interpreting the law. No litmus test needed; just prove impartiality.

Judges are always partial. Look no further than the five to four appointment of an unelected President in 2000 to see how partiality split right along political loyalties. Perhaps no recent case is more obvious an example. But all decisions of all judges in all cases demonstrate the "favoring of one side or person over another or others."

Judges are products of their childhood training, their schooling, their beliefs and thought processes, as are we all. What they have been taught to believe, how they were taught it, and how they have been trained to reason about their beliefs concerning the law will determine how they decide for or against one person or side in any case. Think about it. If judges were impartial in interpreting the law, would we need nine on the Supreme Court? Wouldn’t one "impartial" judge be enough? We need nine in order to have a majority view possible, with as small a majority as five partial to one side and four to the other.

It is not surprising, then, that the party in power hopes for a judge that will be partial to their beliefs and even their agenda. Of course the President was given the name of a man to nominate who is believed to be partial to the Republicans. And of course the Democrats will challenge his partiality.

John Roberts will be confirmed, according to all the best guesses. It will not mean that he will have shown himself to be impartial. His written opinions, memos, statements, and beliefs that might give a clearer picture of his judicial biases will be shielded from the hearings by those who believe him to be partial to their own thinking. He will be challenged by those who believe him to be partial to "the other side or sides," as well. As I said, Judge Roberts will be confirmed anyway.

And a conservative Republican, Roman Catholic will sit on the Court for the rest of his life, or until he retires, ruling on all manner of issues according to his early learning, his education, his beliefs, and his thinking processes concerning the law. None of those factors are exactly like any other judge's. Therefore, neither he nor any of the other judges will ever hand down a decision based on impartiality. Their decisions will be a product of the way they see the issues,their learning, their beliefs, and their ways of thinking.

Partialities, all the way.

No wonder the two sides will argue the appointment.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No argument from me.

Except that Judge Roberts may serve for life, or until he resigns a la Judge S. D. O'Connor.

8/03/2005 6:36 PM  
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