|Americans and Literacy||Strictly Ballroom At Senate Dance Hall|
by Christopher Chantrill
January 08, 2006 at 9:10 am
HERE WE GO again, as the Senate prepares to advise and consent upon the nomination of Samuel A. Alito for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. Four months ago John Roberts testified to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee about his understanding of the role of the judge. He said:
If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind. I will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented. I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench. And I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability. And I will remember that its my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.
Every conservative heart fluttered in admiration. But it was already clear that the Democratic senators on the committee had a radically different idea of the role of the judge. What about rights, they asked? What about womens rights, workers rights, minority rights? On which side would Roberts come down: employers or workers?
Senator Kennedy was worried about the removal of existing barriers to full and fair lives for women, minorities and the disabled. Senator Schumer insisted that You should be prepared to explain your views of the First Amendment and civil rights and environmental rights, religious liberty, privacy, workers rights, womens rights and a host of other issues relevant to the most powerful lifetime post in the nation.
On the one hand we have the notion of the judge as dispassionate arbiter, evenhandedly making decisions based on the facts and the law, and on the other hand we have the notion of the high court as a champion of the oppressed and the marginalized, guaranteeing their rights against a world of power.
It is clear that Sam Alito is a judge from the same school as Roberts. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito dissented against a 3rd Circuit decision striking down a Pennsylvania law requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses. He proposed applying Justice OConnors tests for an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion. In Bray vs. Marriott Hotels, he dissented against pro-employee summary judgment standards that allowed claims to survive when a plaintiff could show minor inconsistencies or discrepancies in an employers adherence to internal procedures. In both cases Alito argued for respecting existing precedent.
In other words, Alito follows the conservative notion that judges should judge according to the law and the facts against the Democrats rights argument that people are helpless victims that judges should protect from powerful authority.
What is going on here? Why are Republicans so hot on the rule of law and Democrats so hot on rights? We need a psychology to illuminate this problem.
But let us not use the developmental psychology of Erikson or Maslow. They are problematic for conservatives since they assume that the highest and best form of human is the integrated liberal. Instead let us apply the ideas of Clare Graves and his students Don Beck and Christopher Cowan. The core of their developmental psychology is four levels or stages. First there are red victims who experience life as pure impulsive egos, helplessly beset by powerful forces. Then there are purposeful blues who live a disciplined, optimistic life in accordance with One Truth or the rule of law. There are also orange creatives, businessmen and artists who believe that you can change the rules of life-as-a-game, the business game or the arts game. Then there are communitarian greens who believe in sharing and caring, and who believe that violence never solves anything.
No wonder the Democratic senators talk about rights. A green leadership cadre leading a party of angry, helpless red victims, they know their job: protecting their clients from the malevolent power of the Man.
There is, of course, a limit to the Democrats rights jurisprudence; it ends when it starts to benefit Republicans. Imagine that you ran a business reboring gun barrels, and wanted to expand your machine shop into an area of your property that had been classified as a wetland because it occasionally became inundated during winter rains. Imagine the U.S. Court of Appeals applying summary judgment standards because the state EPA had not adhered fully to its internal procedures in the permitting process. What should unelected judges care about the rights of Republicans, optimistic God-fearing Honey, Im home! Pleasantville homeowners that go to work, follow the rules, obey the law, and raise their families?
When Democratic senators insist that Supreme Court nominees agree to defend our rights, they are really talking about defending the legacy of a century of progressive legislation. Imagine how they feel, these well-born Kennedys and Kerrys, as they watch their beloved federal government ruined by Republican movie actors, drunken frat boys, instructors from non-selective colleges, high-school wrestling coaches, and even pest exterminators.
Only the Supreme Court remains to hold back the tide of these rude Republican parvenus.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America