Aargh! &c.

Chief Justice John Roberts


You’ve heard all too much about the Roberts ruling, I’m sure — I mean, the health-care ruling. Let me add two cents — not so much mine as those of a wise judge I know. “Incompetent,” he said. Roberts’s ruling was incompetent. “Silly, absurd, not worthy of respect. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was far more reasonable in her argument.” (Yikes!) “If a district-court judge pulled a stunt like the one Roberts pulled, he would be reversed by the next court in about two seconds.”

In the deepest cut of all, the judge said, “Roberts failed to do his duty — his constitutional duty. He’s not supposed to be looking at the political situation. He’s not supposed to think about his ‘legacy.’ He’s supposed to uphold the Constitution, plain and simple. The majority decision will come to be embarrassing. The dissent will stand as something true and admirable.”

I said, “So, do you think Bush 43 may have inadvertently saddled us with another Warren Burger?” “No!” said the judge. “Burger would never have written something so stupid” as the Roberts ruling. “He was not incompetent.”

Let me try something out on you: People say, “Wait for the next election. Settle this thing — settle health care — in the political arena, where it belongs.” I have used this kind of language myself, about various issues. But, you know? Every branch has its duty. We have separation of powers in this country. We have checks and balances.

The executive doesn’t have carte blanche for four years; Congress doesn’t have carte blanche, for any period. We do not elect a czar, who has four years to do whatever he wants, while the rest of us say, “Relax: There’ll be an election in due course.”

Remember, Richard Nixon won 49 states in 1972. It was one of the biggest presidential blowouts in American history. Within two years, he was forced from office.

If a bill is unconstitutional, it is the duty of the Supreme Court to say so. Every branch has a role, every officer has a part to play.

It is conservative doctrine that special prosecutors, or independent counsel (or counsels), are bunk. I’m sure this doctrine is right. I have been mouthing anti-special-prosecutor arguments since the 1980s. I believe them.

But this is what I get stuck on: How can a Justice Department, for example, investigate itself? How can people who work for the attorney general properly investigate him?

As I said, I get stuck on that. People say, “Well, sort it out at the ballot box. There’s always another election.” True. But don’t you kind of have to obey the law before then? I mean, you can’t stick your tongue out at the law and say, “You’ll have your chance in the appropriate November,” can you?

Conservative, or Republican-appointed, justices are always crossing over to the liberal side. We have seen Roberts. You had Burger, O’Connor, Souter, others. You have Kennedy. Do the liberals ever cross over to the conservative side? Aren’t their votes pretty much in the bag, rock-solid predictable? Isn’t all the “swinging” action from the right, so to speak? Conservatives are always “surprising” us. Do liberals ever surprise?

As a senator, Obama voted against Roberts’s confirmation, and against Alito’s. He could never have guessed that Roberts would throw him a lifeline. I couldn’t have guessed either.

I noticed in a post by Yuval Levin that the New York Times had referred to the Court’s liberals as “moderate liberals.” The others, including Kennedy, were labeled “conservatives.” I wonder what would be a “moderate conservative” in the Times’s book. Anyway, the paper had “moderate liberals” pitted against “conservatives.”

I was reminded of what the Times called George Zimmerman, the shooter in the Trayvon Martin case: a “white Hispanic.” We use language to express our reasoning (among other things). If your reasoning is warped, the language will come out warped. You know what I mean, I trust.

Politicians, like other people, change their minds. They reverse themselves. But they should probably explain themselves as they do so. If someone is, say, anti-death penalty and becomes pro-death penalty, he should probably say, “Let me tell you what accounts for my change of position . . .”

Remember Earl Long? He reversed himself on something, shortly after he was elected. He flat out broke a campaign promise. His press secretary said, “What should I tell ’em?” Earl said, “Tell ’em I lied.”

At least that was something. You’ve got to say something.

Barack Obama swore up and down that he did not have the power to grant amnesty, all by himself. He had to follow the law. We had a system in place, a set of procedures. But then he went ahead and said he was waving a wand and declaring amnesty.

Shouldn’t he explain himself? Shouldn’t he at least acknowledge that he is doing something he said he could not? Shouldn’t a journalist ask him about this matter, if he has a chance?

I volunteer!

I have just spent time in Taiwan, examining the differences between that country and China, finding out about the relationship between the two. So I think the below news gave me an extra jolt:

Chinese security agents abducted a Taiwanese businessman who practices Falun Gong from an airport in southern China last week, placing him at risk of torture and imprisonment. . . . “His relatives drove him to the airport and watched as he walked into the passenger-only area, but he didn’t arrive at the airport in Taiwan,” the man’s wife said at a press conference at Taiwan’s parliament on June 22. “We contacted his relatives in China immediately; they went to check and told us that he was taken away from the airport to ‘assist in an investigation of Falun Gong activities.’”

Uh-huh. For the rest of the report, go here.

The PRC is an unfree, immoral, cruel, brutal, disgusting country. It is a one-party dictatorship with a gulag. It is plainly unwilling to let a Taiwanese businessman come and go. Sure, the Free World, and the rest of the world, has to deal with the PRC. But I don’t see why we can’t tell the truth about it as we do.

I’ll tell you whom I admire: the people in the Kaping district of Tangshan, in Hebei province. Listen to this:

At 6 a.m. on June 9, 2012, approximately ten security agents forced their way into the home of 58-year-old Mr. Li Zhen . . . When Li’s wife screamed for help, dozens of neighbors came out, forming a human wall in an attempt to prevent the abduction. The standoff reportedly lasted for two hours before officers forced a shoeless and shirtless Li into a car in handcuffs and drove away.

A human wall, to protect an innocent man. What a beautiful thing. And to hold out for two hours against PRC authorities — a fine stand. Not good enough, however. (Full story here.)