Yes, this is a bit behind, but I had to make comments about some of the discussion points put forward by some of the conservative Justices of the Supreme Court during oral arguments on the marriage equality cases.
I took time out, as did a lot of Americans, and watched today’s ceremonies swearing in Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. As you might expect, I have some opinions on the ceremony and some of the participants.
I was as upset as anyone who despises hate mongering and bigotry, especially when perpetrated for personal gain, at the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation. Well, karma’s a bitch for the new President. In an otherwise flawless, stately, and eloquent ceremony, Rick Warren was the low point. His speech was halting and confused. He was long-winded, and frankly sounded like some corn-pone hick (and being one myself, I know ’em when I hear ’em). His inflection and style lacked gravitas and humility and at times he seemed false, and was clearly mugging for the camera instead of concentrating on the prayer.
The next lowest point for me, frankly, was the poem. I admit to not being much of a reader of poetry, but that thing had me completely dumbfounded. I guess Mya Angelou’s poem, “On The Pulse of Morning,” at Clinton’s inauguration spoiled me. She had me in tears.
Rev. Lowery’s benediction was better poetry, and his rhetoric certainly more lofty than Warren’s.
And then, since he had to foist one last screw-up on the American people, Bush’s Chief Justice didn’t seem to bother to memorize the Constitutionally mandated oath of office. The only oath proscribed in the Constitution is the one for President, and John Roberts, Chief arbiter of the Constitution, apparently couldn’t be bothered to memorize it or at least write himself a crib note.
Obama’s speech was excellent, and touched on all the right themes. He seemed to offer a very strong repudiation to the fear and hate mongering of the past eight years. I hope his administration goes all out to reverse the scorched earth left by Bush/Cheney, Inc. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him, and he rightly called on Americans to be prepared to help. If we do, there really isn’t anything we can’t accomplish. It was a speech that called us to task for taking our eyes off the prize, and giving in to the Republican dogma of “us vs. them,” free-market greed above all else, and the fallacy of trickle down economics.
“We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”
And despite all that, I think the part I enjoyed most was watching Yo Yo Ma playing the John Williams piece with the quartet. It wasn’t so much the music, as the expression on Ma’s face. While the other performers had the usual and expected expression of concentration, Ma just had a smile of pure joy and excitement at what he was doing.
I’m a sucker for the ceremonies of state, and today’s was “high church.” Barack and Michele Obama, and his children, were just the height of grace and beauty, and it does give me some hope that maybe a new day has begun.
Well, I was prepared to give Roberts the benefit of the doubt, but his self-serving attitude about answering questions during his confirmation hearing make me issue a solid "thumbs down".
At one point, I heard him say that he’d been very forthcoming because he’d answered every question that was related to issues he did NOT expect to come before the court…well golly ghee whiz…I guess I’m supposed to think those are the really relevant and important ones. Sorry John, I think you owe us answers to your opinions on matters that will come before the damned court you are going to be running. Those just might have some importance.
Roberts repeatedly and emphatically refused to give answers to questions about his views on "specific cases." At one point Roberts said, "I do feel compelled to point out that I should not … agree or disagree with particular decisions. And I’m reluctant to do that. That’s one of the areas where I think prior nominees have drawn the line when it comes to, Do you agree with this case or do you agree with that case? And that’s something that I’m going to have to draw the line in the sand." Later, when it suited his purposes, Roberts gave his views on particular cases. Responding to question by Sen. Herb Kohl, Roberts said, "I agree with the Griswold court’s conclusion that marital privacy extends to contraception and availability of that." On multiple occasions Roberts "said that he believed Brown against Board of Education was correctly decided." (At one point he called the decision "genius.") But Roberts refused to answer questions about Roe v. Wade and related cases, like Casey. Roberts claims that the distinction is that Roe and other cases are "live with business." As Sen. Arlen Specter noted, there have been 38 cases where Roe has been taken up and had its core holding upheld but Roberts considers that case "live" and off-limits. There is no principle. Roberts talked about cases when it was politically convenient; when it wasn’t he clammed up.
Roberts and his staunch supports continually make reference — either explicitly or implicitly — to the so-called "Ginsburg precedent" to justify Roberts’ refusal to answer questions that he decided were related to specific cases. Roberts said, "My understanding, based on reading the transcripts not just of Justice Ginsburg’s hearing, but of the hearings for every one of the justices on the court, is that that was her approach; that she would generally decline to comment on whether she viewed particular cases as correctly decided or not." His understanding is wrong. As Sen. Joe Biden pointed out, Justice Ginsburg "commented specifically on 27 cases." Roberts also refused to respond to specific legal issues that Ginsburg had written on and answered questions about.
The White House "has refused to give the Senate memos that Roberts wrote when he was deputy solicitor general for the president’s father, President George H.W. Bush, from 1989 to 1993." Roberts dismissed the Reagan-era documents the White House agreed to disclose as out-of-date. Responding to a sharp line of questioning by Sen. Kohl, Roberts said, "I certainly wouldn’t write everything today as I wrote it back then, but I don’t think any of us would do things or write things today as we did when we were 25 and had all the answers."
Again, I’m willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt on these. After all, he was an "employee" but, I think we have a right to see them.