Advocacy Trumps Philosophy

There’s a mistaken view that nominee John Roberts’ advocacy on behalf of his various clients tells us something useful about how he will acquit himself as a justice on the nation’s highest court.

It ain’t necessarily so and those who would try to read the tea-leaves of his lawyering life (including members of the Senate Judiciary Committee) are ill advised. There is a line between representing the interests of a client and allowing one’s personal philosophy to interfere with that representation.  That line is not only a matter of fair representation, it is actionable against attorneys who confuse the one issue with the other.

Thou shalt not stick your personal nose into a client’s legal business. 

Put another way, a lawyer’s duty is to the law, else how would the unsavory and unattractive of the world get justice?

Those who have their own agenda, and that includes almost everyone opposed to this current president of ours, were and are powered-up to fight this nomination.  Actually, they were powered-up to fight any nomination by GWB and now they’re flummoxed by the choice he’s made.  It’s a national example of being ‘all dressed up with nowhere to go’ and so they flock to the archives and try to make a connect between an advocacy (active support; especially the act of pleading or arguing for something) and a philosophy (any personal belief about how to live or how to deal with a situation).

I myself am not all that happy over some of Roberts’ decisions as a judge, particularly his participation in the three-judge panel that overturned lower-court rulings about our terrorist prisoners.  But I understand that the lower-court opinion was flawed as a matter of law and that is quite a different thing than agreeing with and advocating the abuse of prisoners. 

The quite different thing is what needs to be evaluated in judging this candidate.

Finally, there is the matter of ‘a better man than we might have got.’  In a perfect world, the Supreme Court would be our national repository of ‘the best of the best.’  It is not.  It is often the best we can get or the best we can approve.  Outgoing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said John Roberts was a ‘brilliant choice.’

Those who would so love to see another O’Connor should at least pay some attention to her opinion.

See Taking My Country Personally on my personal web site.

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