The New Clarion

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May 28th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 19 Comments · Politics

Everything Obama has done so far, both domestically and abroad, has been 180 degrees wrong, and his first Supreme Court pick doesn’t break his ignominious record. Sonia Sotomayor is a disastrously bad judge. She will work on the Supreme Court to further Obama’s agenda of destroying individual rights and reshaping America by the standard of collectivism.

Of course, most of the commentary on Sotomayor has focused not on her ideas, but on that over which she has no control: she was born an hispanic woman. Multiculturalism has so perverted the west that we ignore philosophy to focus on blood. And only blood will come of blood.

The best analysis has come from Richard Epstein:

We have already seen a president whose professed devotion to the law takes a backseat to all sorts of other considerations. The treatment of the compensation packages of key AIG ( AIGnews people ) executives (which eventually led to the indecorous resignation of Edward Liddy), and the massive insinuation of the executive branch into the (current) Chrysler and (looming) General Motors ( GMnews people ) bankruptcies are sure to generate many a spirited struggle over two issues that are likely to define our future Supreme Court’s jurisprudence. The level of property rights protection against government intervention on the one hand, and the permissible scope of unilateral action by the president in a system that is (or at least should be) characterized by a system of separation of powers and checks and balances on the other.

Here is one straw in the wind that does not bode well for a Sotomayor appointment. Justice Stevens of the current court came in for a fair share of criticism (all justified in my view) for his expansive reading in Kelo v. City of New London (2005) of the “public use language.” Of course, the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment is as complex as it is short: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” But he was surely done one better in the Summary Order in Didden v. Village of Port Chester issued by the Second Circuit in 2006. Judge Sotomayor was on the panel that issued the unsigned opinion–one that makes Justice Stevens look like a paradigmatic defender of strong property rights.

I have written about Didden in Forbes. The case involved about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined. Bart Didden came up with an idea to build a pharmacy on land he owned in a redevelopment district in Port Chester over which the town of Port Chester had given Greg Wasser control. Wasser told Didden that he would approve the project only if Didden paid him $800,000 or gave him a partnership interest. The “or else” was that the land would be promptly condemned by the village, and Wasser would put up a pharmacy himself. Just that came to pass. But the Second Circuit panel on which Sotomayor sat did not raise an eyebrow. Its entire analysis reads as follows: “We agree with the district court that [Wasser’s] voluntary attempt to resolve appellants’ demands was neither an unconstitutional exaction in the form of extortion nor an equal protection violation.”

Maybe I am missing something, but American business should shudder in its boots if Judge Sotomayor takes this attitude to the Supreme Court. Justice Stevens wrote that the public deliberations over a comprehensive land use plan is what saved the condemnation of Ms. Kelo’s home from constitutional attack. Just that element was missing in the Village of Port Chester fiasco. Indeed, the threats that Wasser made look all too much like the “or else” diplomacy of the Obama administration in business matters.

(HT: TIA Daily)

A thuggish president has nominated a thuggish judge to serve on the highest court so he can continue to expand his power over Americans without any obstacles from the court. (Come to think of it, Obama is a lot like FDR, who tried to pack the court.)

Tom Bowden goes deeper philosophically to show that Sotomayor’s multiculturalism rejects objectivity and impartiality.

If initial reactions are any indication, Sotomayor is a lock. Republicans are such a joke these days that they have no idea what to do. They’re terrified that people will say “Republicans hate women and hispanics” if they vote against Sotomayor. They have no clue as to how to mount an opposition to her based on ideas.

Over at Ace of Spades, they ask “What Has Happened to Little Green Footballs?” Charles Johnson can’t understand why Rush Limbaugh would want the Sotomayor nomination to fail. (Do you think the Democrats, who invented Borking, might have wanted Thomas, Alito and Roberts to fail in becoming Supreme Court judges? But it’s always okay for collectivists to be “mean-spirited” because they are motivated by altruism.) Mark you, Johnson is considered a vehement opponent of the left — and he is a puling pragmatist.

I once marveled at something I read about priests in the 7th century AD, the heart of the Dark Ages. Learning had so degenerated that many priests did not know what the Latin words they spoke meant. To them and their laity, Latin was just magic words, like abracadabra; it was the magic one spoke to God. How could people let reason, science and learning disappear?

But are we not losing the same values now? Compare today’s hapless Republicans to Barry Goldwater. Somehow I think Goldwater could have mounted an argument against Sotomayor on her disdain for property rights. Instead we’re doomed to hear Republicans bubbling over about Sotomayor’s “inspirational life story.” Yes, all you hispanic little girls out there, take heart that someday you too can grow up to trample liberty and individual rights on the Supreme Court in the name of altruism and egalitarianism.

As Leonard Peikoff said, the Dark Ages were dark on principle. They followed logically from Augustine’s attack on reason, science and all worldy values. Today we are turning away from reason, again on principle. A generation of multiculturalism and other New Leftist isms has left us incapable of thinking about anything more abstract than bloodlines. What tribe does she belong to?

The west is getting darker — on principle.

19 Comments so far ↓

  • Chuck

    I’ve been trying to ignore LGF’s swing to the middle, but it is getting too nauseating to bear. He says he only wants Obama and Sotomayor’s policies to fail, not the person espousing those policies. He cannot see, evidently, that if their policies fail, they fail. They are one and the same.

    Now he is trumpeting some article that claims Sotomayor is a “moderate” on business matters. Isn’t that wonderful? She is only against property rights *some of the time.* Let’s all stand up and cheer, shall we?

    Johnson has for some time been going out of his way looking for reasons to praise Obama and his decisions, and his minions.

    Instead of looking for feet of clay in a hero, Johnson is looking for a heart of gold in a villain. These are two sides of the same coin. You tear down the heroes, and lift up the villains. Egalitarianism, it seems, is the result of Johnson’s moderate-ism. The victim of both of these ideas is: Justice.

  • madmax

    Sotomayor *is* a racist and a sexist. She makes judgments based on race and gender and she is proud of this. So, I think it is important, mandatory even, to denounce her for her racist/collectivist ideas.

    The left has succeeded in creating a culture where only whites can be racist and no one else. Leftists can say the most vile, racist things and get away with it because they are of course motivated by the best of intentions, ie altruism and “equality”. Some conservatives get this but (Krauthammer for example) not nearly enough.

  • Harold

    The guy at Titanic Deck Chairs has an interesting take on this.

  • Rajesh Dhawan

    Why didn’t the founding fathers anticipate something like this happening- a politician hell-bent on diluting the constitution and packing the court with judges like Sotomayer?

    I guess they couldn’t have thought that the country would be abandoned by the intellectuals in such a big way. I wonder if we ever defeat the “dark ages” of our times, could there be safeguards built into constitution to prevent such attempts to choke it.

  • Mike N

    There could have been safeguards built into our constitution if the founders had not written conradictions into it like giving the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce, levy taxes. Actually, even these would not have happened if they had expressly written that no government body, state, local or federal, may initiate physical force against citizens for any reason. But they didn’t.

    Obama is a hate filled racist so it is no surprise he would find another, Sotomeyer, attractive. It is the philosophy of Kant that has made these two people possible and the only way to fight them is on the philosophical level. I don’t mean a direct philosophical confratation with them. They will simply ignore ideas. I mean introducing a human philosophy to the young who will eventually replace nihilists like these with people who respect human life.

  • C. August

    Myrhaf, I agree with you the Sotomayor is not fit of the Court for the reasons you mention — primarily her subjectivity and lack of respect for individual rights. But I’m left wondering… what kind of person did we expect Obama would nominate? I think this is exactly in keeping with his strategy and ideas, and if it wasn’t Sotomayor it would be someone else equally objectionable.

    I’ve speculated that Obama may be setting the stage for nominating Cass Sunstein (thanks for the plug, Harold) either now, if Sotomayor is rejected, or when the next opening comes up. Sunstein, being much smarter, and much much worse philosophically, would be a dominant force on the Court. Sotomayor will just be another leftist vote.

    You mentioned that the Republicans of today are hapless, and I fully agree. They can’t construct a principled argument against Sotomayor, or anything else for that matter. And if it was McCain in the White House, he’d be bowing the the religious faction and using the anti-abortion litmus test. The left uses a tribalistic litmus, and the right uses a mystic litmus. In the end, it’s our liberties that suffer either way.

    Rajesh: Mike N answered pretty well, but I would add that, if you want some specific examples, look to vague language like “promote the general welfare” which has been bastardized to mean whatever the statists want it to mean. Or in the Declaration, where the “property” was replaced with “the pursuit of happiness.” It was vague even then, but it made sense at the time because the culture was much better (more reasoning).

    Also, you asked why the Founders couldn’t see this coming. Well, they did to a certain extent, because they looked to ancient Greece and Rome, as well as their very recent separation from monarchy for examples. They didn’t want the federation to collapse like the Greek city states, they didn’t want a king, and they wanted to improve on the Roman republic with the new knowledge from thinkers like Locke. Still, they didn’t have the benefit of Ayn Rand’s insights, and had not abandoned the altruist morality. They either didn’t see the contradiction between property rights and the morality of sacrifice, or they couldn’t figure a way around it. So they relied on the implicit understanding of the importance of property rights in the culture at the time. And now, as the culture has deteriorated (as Myrhaf pointed out) the lack of explicit definition in the Constitution is coming back to bite us. Now we’re only relying on what little is left of the American sense of life to protect individual rights.

    I wanted to try and end this comment on a more positive note, but now I’ll simply echo what Myrhaf said. Things are getting darker.

  • Jeff

    To MikeN,

    You said, “There could have been safeguards built into our constitution if the founders had not written conradictions into it like giving the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce… ”

    The term “regulate” does not here have its modern connotation; it means “to make regular”, i.e. to make the rules governing trade between the states consistent among the states. This is a legitimate function of government.

    This was meant to avoid some of the problems which arose under the confederation, e.g. the state judges would favor their own residents in property and contractual disputes involving parties from multiple states.

  • Andrew Dalton

    David Brooks weighs in on the “empathy” issue, basically endorsing an emotionalist epistemology. It’s all justified according to conservative principles, of course.

    Seriously, every time I think that David Brooks is utterly worthless, he surprises me and becomes even worthlesser.

  • Mike N

    You are right about the different meanings of ‘regulate’ from then till now. I was of course using it in its modern sense. Still, I wonder if the founders could have used a more specific term.

  • Jim May

    Why didn’t the founding fathers anticipate something like this happening- a politician hell-bent on diluting the constitution and packing the court with judges like Sotomayer?

    I am amazed that they were able to anticipate as much as they did.

    While I would like to think that if an Objectivist were transported back to 1787 and were able to fix all the flaws in that document with the advantage of hindsight, I still don’t believe that the resulting document would have been more idiot-proof; as they say, they are always coming up with “better idiots”, in a manner of speaking.

    IMO, Adams was about as prescient as could be expected, given the context, when he said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    In other words, if the culture and intellect go to hell, as they clearly have, the best possible Constitution can only delay the end.

  • madmax

    “IMO, Adams was about as prescient as could be expected, given the context, when he said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.””

    This is a great quote by Adams. One which religious conservatives constantly tout as proof that America was and must again become a religious country if it is to survive. But the truth behind Adam’s statement is not that America was religious but that it was philosophical. Skepticism can not support a healthy (or any) society. And thanks to Hume and Kant (which is worse?) we are drowning in skepticism, relativism and its political consequence – collectivism. Its actually amazing America is holding out as long as she is given the leftist assault she has been subjected to.

  • Mike N

    Kant was much worse than Hume. It was in fact Kant that made Hume more famous than he was before Kant.

  • Jeff

    To MikeN,

    The problem is the intellectuals’ prodigious ignorance of the constitution and their philosophy which renders this ignorance acceptable, not the Constitution itself; its faults are trivial by comparison.

    If you are interested in the actual meaning of the constitution, I would recommend, outside the Federalist Letters and the writings of James Madison, Joseph Story’s “Commentaries On The Constitution Of The United States” or the abridged version titled “A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States.” He lays out the constitution and explains each article and section.

  • Mike N

    Thanks. Iwill look up those resources.

  • L-C

    Still, any constitution without “The government, or any part of it, may not initiate force at any time, for any reason.” or such is begging to be slaughtered.

  • Jeff

    To L-C,

    Do you honestly believe that would make a difference?

    It would be construed (i.e. misconstrued) to fit whatever, at that moment, was popular in the courts.

  • L-C

    The reasons why the government shouldn’t (and mustn’t) initiate force would also be included in the constitution.

  • Jeff

    To L-C,

    A constitution is not a philosophical treatise on the nature of government; it details the organization and limits of government, not the reasons therefor.

  • Jim May

    L-C: I would say that defining terms Might have helped to solidify the Constitution; many of the attacks on that document consist of ridiculous analysis of the meaning of words.

    But in the end, you’re still trying to build a structure to withstand being inhabited by people who have no idea how it was built or what keeps it standing, but take it for granted and continue to knock out walls when they become inconvenient. That merely delays the inevitable end.

    As with real buildings, the only open-ended solution is active maintenance of the building by qualified individuals — and to keep up the supply of those, you need active maintenance of the *culture*. That’s the challenge no civilization has yet solved.