Friday, January 14, 2005

Mr. Justice Breyer hits a nerve

A televised debate between Justice Scalia and Justice Bryer was aired yesterday. In the course of the discussion Justice Breyer said, "U.S. law is not handed down from on high even at the U.S. Supreme Court. The law emerges from a conversation with judges, lawyers, professors and law students. ... It's what I call opening your eyes as to what's going on elsewhere."

The remark set off a barage of comments, which strike me as -- to put it gently -- jumpy or nervous. We aren't talking about legal opinions here, or even discussions that might lead to any. If I understand correctly, what we are talking about is nothing more than a debate between two judges from the US Supreme court who are kicking around some ideas. Now I can understand how if you overhear your doctor discussing euthanasia and you are lying semi-comatose nearby, his remarks might make you uncomfortable. But jsut because he is discussing the subject it does not follow that there is an imminent threat.

Pejman brings this to our attention with an excerpt by John Hinderaker (aka Hindrocket) on his blog Power Line. He makes an interesting aside which caught my eye.

(A personal note--Justice Breyer was my honors thesis adviser in law school. I did not view him, then, as an extremist; on the contrary, he was one of a handful of professors who introduced me to free market economics. But no Supreme Court justice has ever moved to the right after being appointed; not in my lifetime, anyway.) This is Hindraker speaking, not Pejman. Emphasis added.

Do you suppose there is any reason why justices who finally have a lifetime appointment, or second-term presidents who no longer eligible to run sometimes take off in another direction than the one expected before they caught the brass ring?
Is it possible that at some level they harbored ideas that would have threatened their progress if known?
When you get right down to it, appealing to public opinion ain't all it's cracked up to be. That's one of the shortcomings of democracy. Some call it deception. Others call it leadership. It all depends on your point of view.

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