Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Supreme (Court) Decisions

"The Supreme Court's only armor is the cloak of public trust; its sole ammunition, the collective hopes of our society." Irving R. Kaufman

When the new Supreme Court nominee was announced, I was concerned about the President's choice, so I did my civic duty. I sent emails to my two US Senators -- and if you live in PA as I do, that means The Sublime and The Ridiculous.

Here's the gist of what I wrote to each:

To Senator Specter: Your constituents and the country count on you as always to represent us with honor, decency and intelligence, as a Senior Senator and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. We know you vote with integrity and conscience, not special interest agendas. We value your leadership at this critical time in protecting the lives and futures of all Americans, not just those with narrow-minded religious and political goals.

To Senator Santorum: Please remember you represent ALL Pennsylvanians, and that your constituents include all faiths, creeds, cultures, races, ideologies and beliefs. We will not sit idly by while you and other radical right wing Republicans tamper with our most precious freedoms in furtherance of your own personal, political and religious agendas. Please try to do honor to yourself, your fellow Americans and the high office you hold. Bob Casey is waiting in the wings if you can't find a way to do the right thing for PA and your country
I've been a registered Democrat all my life -- worked for quite a few top Dems at local, state and national levels in fact. There was a long period when Philadelphia District Attorney Specter, and then Senator Specter was a thorn in the side of many diehard liberals like me. But as time when on and his voting record in the Senate piled up, it became clear Senator Specter had become a moderate, a man of reason, not now and not ever a radical right wingnut like his current colleague Rick Santorum.

Not surprisingly, I received a reply from Senator Specter today.
Dear Ms. Swift:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding use of the filibuster or extended debate and the judicial confirmation process. I appreciate hearing from you.

I have stated publicly that I hope the Senate can avoid the constitutional or nuclear option to rule the use of a filibuster on a judicial nomination out of order. My goal is to continue to work with Senators from both parties to develop a fair judicial confirmation process that both sides of the aisle can support. I am hopeful that the Senate can, as it has throughout history, achieve this goal.

Thank you again for writing. The concerns of my constituents are of great importance to me, and I rely on you and other Pennsylvanians to inform me of your views. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office or visit my website at

Arlen Specter
Yes, it's vague, noncommittal, politically tempered -- which to tell the truth, given his position and the fight we're facing, is as it should be. But it's still righteous. He--through his staff--gets major points for responding at all. Appropriate attitudes toward constituents are set by the person at the top.

Which leads me to something else I liked: Senator Specter's email addressed me formally as Ms., a lesson which could--no, should--be learned by most of the politicians hammering at my In Box every day. They all call me by my first name, as if we're lifelong buddies. I met John Kerry years ago, but a friend had to remind me of that, so he sure as hell doesn't remember me. And I never met Howard Dean, who cozies up to me on a first name basis ad nauseum in every email.

And speaking of nausea, of course I haven't heard peep one from Senator Santorum. Too busy flogging his book, I imagine. And readying himself for the fight for Judge Robert's confirmation. Santorum did issue a press release, available on his web site, which contains some ominous nuggets:
Americans deserve and will demand a dignified handling of the confirmation process. The personal insults and demeaning attacks on a nominee that have become the centerpiece of previous nominations must not manifest themselves in this confirmation.
Whoa, hang on: Santorum is opposed to personal insults and demeaning attacks? Unless they come from him, I guess. Unless the person's not gay or a working mother or a Jew who can't take a little joke about Nazis.
In nominating a Supreme Court Justice, it was imperative that the President chose an individual who has the educational and professional pedigree that befits a member of the highest court. In John Roberts, President Bush certainly found such a candidate. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University after only three years, Judge Roberts then attended Harvard Law School where he earned high honors and was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Oookay, so when it comes to Judge Roberts, Santorum is suddenly a big fan of Harvard. Oh please. Remember this lovely little Santorum quote about Boston Priests Molesting Children:
It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning "private" moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.
Then we come to the meat of this tubesteak's message:
The President took his time, interviewed a number of extremely talented individuals, and ultimately made a conscientious and sound decision that will help the Supreme Court return to its true function--interpreting the law, not creating it.
If it were up to Senator Rick Santorum, America would remain firmly mired in the 17th Century to achieve his goal that the Supreme Court ignore the monumental changes in lives and lifestyles and civil liberties and freedoms in order to return to its "true function: interpreting the law--not creating it." Perhaps Mr. Santorum would like some slaves to help the stay-at-home-wife he's so proud of -- since he's never there to help her himself. Except for photo ops to sell the book and promote Christian values.

Somebody needs to remind Senator Santorum that 53 percent of American citizens are NOT evangelical Christians. That would include his colleague and Senior Senator, Mr. Specter. We have to right to have our voices heard, and we can pray too. What we're praying for is a continuation of reason and compromise that's not about personal agendas, but about the welfare of all Americans.

I'm also praying for Arlen Specter to beat cancer, and for Rick Santorum to beat a path out of the Senate.



Blogger Carl said...


You "don't know much about history," as I've noted in a post-script to my original response.

6:05 PM  

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