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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sandra Day O'Connor: Conceived Without Sin and Infallible

Andrew Cohen's March 23, 2006 "The War on Judges" is one of the shoddiest pieces of journalism I have ever seen. In it, Cohen praises Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and rails against political "bullies" Rep. Tom Delay and Sen. John Cornyn who are both [gasp!] from Texas. But no, Cohen's piece is not a Rush Limbaugh parody of a George Soros commercial. Cohen, who is described by CBS as an attorney that analyzes legal issues for them, is apparently serious. Here's how he begins his piece:

The political bullies who have launched and maintained their despicable attack on the authority and independence of the federal judiciary finally have met their match. She is a gray-haired grandmother who likes to golf, fly fish and write. Not only is she standing up to those who seek to dominate the courts, she is likely to ultimately win the battle of ideas over the role of judges in the age of terror.

I mean, really -- in the end, who would you follow? Whose vision of America do you share? The bullies -- men like Rep. Tom DeLay and Sen. John Cornyn -- both of Texas? Or a small, frail woman by the name of Sandra Day O'Connor, who, it turns out, happens to be a surprisingly brave and remarkably outspoken former United States Supreme Court Justice.

OK. Based on this introduction, what facts have we learned? (1) That Delay and Cornyn are political figures from Texas, and (2) Justice O'Connor is a "gray-haired grandmother who likes to golf, fly fish and write", is a "small, frail, woman," and is a former Supreme Court Justice.

Everything else in this intro merely exhibits Cohen's dislike of Delay and Cornyn because they are "political bullies" (and in case you missed it when Cohen used this decsription in the first paragraph, don't worry because you'll be sure not miss a similar use of the word "bullies" in the second paragraph) who make "despicable attack[s]" on the judiciary. Then Cohen tells you how much he likes Justice O'Connor. She is "surprisingly brave and remarkably outspoken."

But let's give Cohen a break, right? I'm sure he'll tell us in the rest of the article why he dislikes Delay and Cornyn and has implicit faith and trust in Justice O'Connor. Let's see what else Cohen has to say.

The Lone Star heavyweights are used to picking on feckless Democrats -- that's proven to be easy -- but they stand no chance against the Reagan-appointee who is a legend, literally, in her own time.

Did he just say that Delay and Cornyn are from Texas. I had no idea. Wow, and Justice O'Connor is a "legend." I'm astounded by Cohen's ability to focus on the important facts and to deftly weave them into such complex legal analysis.

And it's not just because of the image they present of two powerful and power-hungry men pushing aside a little old lady. It's because of the untenable arguments they are making. They are ugly arguments, foreign and mean, that rely for their power on base, cynical and false views of how judges judge.

Delay and Cornyn: "Powerful" and "power-hungry." Check. "Ugly," "foreign", and "mean" arguments. Check. "Power." Check. "Cynical" and "false views." Check.

O'Connor: "Little old lady." Check.

Although their voices are the loudest, and for now the most powerful, Cornyn and DeLay ultimately will lose because they are on the wrong side of both history and the law. They are for fearful and weak judges, extreme legislative and executive power, and the will of the majority over protection for the minority. O'Connor, meanwhile, a former legislator herself, is on the side of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, checks and balances, and the separation of powers.

Delay and Cornyn: Loudest. Most Powerful. Wrong. Support fearful and weak judges. Extreme Legislative and Executive power. Supports will of majority [Double Gasp! Those fascists!].

O'Connor: Former legislator. Supports Constitution, Bill of Rights, Checks and Balances, and Separation of Powers.

Well, Cohen certainly is very repetitious, and descriptive, but if you read the rest of his article, you won't find any real reasons for his heart-felt dislike for Delay and Cornyn and his love for Justice O'Connor. Instead, all you'll see is that Cohen really dislikes Delay and Cornyn, and apparently, so should you. Also, Cohen really likes Justice O'Connor, and apparently, so should you.

Based on the whole article, I think the only real facts to support Cohen's view is that Delay and Cornyn are from Texas and O'Connor is a frail, grandmother. Perhaps I'm overly skeptical, but I think I'll need some more evidence before I come to accept Cohen's worldview.

I'll leave you with Cohen's final gut-wrenching appeal. Try to choke back your tears.

O'Connor is speaking out now -- against a dictatorship she is worried about -- because she more than most knows what is at stake. She knows what will happen if DeLay and Cornyn and their supporters prevail in this fight. She knows how badly the Constitution's fragile balance of power would be affected by a weak judiciary, especially during a period of great national stress. She has made a choice -- and so, too, must you. There is no middle ground in this battle for the future of the federal courts. And there is no time to wait to make your voice heard, too.