Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sorry, Mr, President, but I don't think so...-- New Evidence...

I thought I should make it official- yet another thing on which I completely disagree with our President... It seems that now that healthcare is out of the way, and all other really important issues are on hold, we've reached the end of what we have in common... for now. Kudos on jobs and the economy, the health care breakthrough, pulling a lot of troops out of the useless wars, etc. (He's a centrist, I'm too far left it seems. Hey, what can I say, all political match tests told me we only had about 44% compatibility in ideology anyway-- compared with 75% Nader, who I would've voted for otherwise-- and he's since changed his mind on certain issues due to new information, etc. He's working on keeping most of the promises that matter, so that's good... Everything else... He's a politician, what else did you expect? I still think overall he's a great guy, very intelligent, really like his personality and such. Hope that someday we'll fight for something together again. And now this sounds like a breakup letter. Sorry, Mr. President, but I'm leaving you for now. Lol...)

I do not like Elena Kagan as a potential Supreme Court Justice one bit. I've been doing a lot of research (or at least, what little can actually be done, as few people seem to know anything about her), and I can't say that anything that I've seen is going to help us. I was willing to overlook the lack of experience thing since she has the academic background and excellent grasp of law (as much as I value experience, sometimes you just have to dive right in...), however I am quite disappointed that (although we knew she would likely be blandly moderate) she is in no way, shape, or form a progressive. Here's what I've found: Ms. Kagan is personally against DADT, which is good, however it would seem that on all other issues, she has decided to strictly follow precedent instead of allowing new interpretation. She believes that there is "no constitutional right to same sex marriage" (Solicitor General Confirmation Hearing, 2009, as provided by NYT). She believes the death penalty is constitutional. She supports infinite detention (the ability of the US government to hold a suspect for an indefinite amount of time, without charges). To sum up the rest of the data I've found so far, she appears to either not have an opinion or view of many major issues or tiptoe around the issue in favor or precedent (i.e. not making a decision?), and supports a lot of Bush era legislation.
An author on Alternet.org wrote about how Ms. Kagan would be moving the court further to the right. I was hesitant to form on opinion on that article alone, but I think now it is safe to say that his article is not inaccurate. Justice Stevens was one of the most progressive activists and justices of the SC, ever. (Hey, the guy is REALLY old...) Anyone less liberal than he is would make the SC more conservative. That's just math/logic. Unfortunately, there is a clear lack of balance between conservative and liberal ideology in the SC, which is all too evident in the court's rulings. The SC is supposed to be nonpartisan and centrist, which arguably Kagan is supposed to be as well, but the majority of the justices are very conservative and have in the past let their personal beliefs influence interpretation-- which creates flawed, biased precedent, which Ms. Kagan has vowed to uphold.

Another thought when watching the news this morning - the GOP senators aren't protesting this for the most part, and they've agreed to give her a fair hearing. Sadly, that immediately sent up red flags. Why not? Because they truly like her, and she conforms to their political ideology... She opposes marriage equality, supports Bush's wartime bullshit... Though this article, from a clearly very conservative author (who calls for conservatives to unite against this extremist... lol...) claims she's a proud liberal who will fight for marriage equality...? (Then if none of us supposedly like her, why is she so likely to be confirmed? But this article proves my point exactly about how viewpoints and ideology can lead to drastically different interpretations of the same information!)

So why does this matter? I want to stress that this is not about her personal viewpoints but her interpretation of the constitution. Her job is not to have an opinion but to interpret the law. (And here's where the psychology comes in...) Unfortunately, as a law is generally something written by another person or group of people, an interpretation cannot possibly be completely objective or an accurate depiction of what was initially meant by the law, and is always affected by the subjective effects of the interpreter's reasoning. To say that more simply, she can't know what the author really meant to say, so she has to say what she thinks it means and vote based on that. And since every person is unique, the way we view things is unique, therefore she can see the same things we see and come to a completely different conclusion. For example, we can look at the constitution and see many reasons why it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage. However, she can look at those same reasons and interpret them as being why there is "no constitutional right" to it. THIS is why it matters that the justice needs to be more liberal. They call them views for a reason. It's how you see the world, and how you analyze and judge. If everyone has the same kind of cognition and interpretation, there's no room for reinterpretation, or different ways of thinking. There's no room for learning something new. Whatever happened to Diane Wood???

Clearly, we need more information, but so far, this seems to me like a conciliatory gesture to the GOP and not a serious nomination... That seems to be happening a little too much lately. Yes, we all need to play nice and work together. However, we still need to get shit done, and undo the damage that's been done. Maybe Ms. Kagan will turn out to be a wonderful, fair Justice. Granted, once appointed, Ms. Kagan will have a "lifetime" to reflect and interpret our Constitution. Even Justice Stevens started out as a conservative Republican... There is always hope.

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