I feel like I'm saying this a lot lately. I'm happy to have a debate with our friends on the right, but please can it be a real debate? Maybe you think things about the judiciary that I don't think. If so, let's have a real national dialogue about them. But let's not have national dialogue about pretend issues and fake judiciary.
Powerline's Deacon is not helping out in that regard:
Consider Justice Ginsburg. I have no basis for thinking that she is other than thoughtful and erudite. However, she recently stated that U.S. courts should continue to look to foreign law and legal thinking for guidance in part because the way foreigners view America is influenced by what they think about our legal system.
Well, no, that's not what she said actually. The article they cited (but didn't quote) had her saying this:
"The notion that it is improper to look beyond the borders of the United States in grappling with hard questions has a certain kinship to the view that the U.S. Constitution is a document essentially frozen in time as of the date of its ratification," Justice Ginsburg said.
"Even more so today, the United States is subject to the scrutiny of a candid world," she said. "What the United States does, for good or for ill, continues to be watched by the international community, in particular by organizations concerned with the advancement of the rule of law and respect for human dignity."
And simply, the scrutiny of this "candid world," dealing with similar issues, shouldn't be ignored. The overall analogy is pretty clear -- she's saying that reading the Constitution for its original "frozen in time" meaning isn't anymore useful than reading it outside the context of the international community; it's a simple point -- the constitution is a document that relates to the world it's in, not just itself. Read along with the rest of the article, this it's obvious that this is what she's saying ("She cited several instances when the logic of foreign courts had been applied to help untangle legal questions domestically.") I can't tell if Deacon just didn't understand what she said (maybe he misunderstood the bit about "for good or for ill" and thinks that that means that judges need to worry about "goodness" or "illness" of what they think), or if he's intentionally misrepresenting her, but that doesn't really matter. He goes on to say
In other words, judges should look beyond the law and concern themselves with shaping America's image abroad.
Well, yes Deacon, those are, as you say "other words" but they're words that don't have much to do with what Ginsburg said. Ginsburg didn't say anything about looking beyond the law or concerning themselves with America's image.
Yet if one were to suggest to Ginsburg that the Supreme Court should worry about what Americans think of our legal system, Ginsburg or her admirers would probably consider the suggestion an attack on judicial independence.
Would they Deacon? Thanks for letting me know. Next time I have a thought, I'll make sure to run it by you first to make sure it fits your preconception.
A real debate. That's all I'm asking for.