class actions, disabled rights, copyright, attorneys general, online speech, law schools, obesity, New York, mortgages, legal blogs, safety, CPSC, pharmaceuticals, patent trolls, ADA filing mills, international human rights, humor, hate speech, illegal drugs, immigration law, cellphones, international law, real estate, bar associations, Environmental Protection Agency, First Amendment, insurance fraud, slip and fall, smoking bans, emergency medicine, regulation and its reform, dramshop statutes, hotels, web accessibility, United Nations, Alien Tort Claims Act, lobbyists, pools, school discipline, Voting Rights Act, legal services programs
 Subscribe Subscribe   Find us on Twitter Follow POL on Twitter  
   
 
   

 

What, Me Worry?

August 29, 2005 11:46 AM

Having read Steve�s broadside against the People for the American Way, I braced myself for the worst when I read over the detailed report that PFAW prepared against Roberts. After all, Steve compared it to the famous Ted Kennedy speech that began with the words, �In Robert Bork�s America,� so I expected to find some zingers in it that would remind me of the �rogue cops,� and �segregated luncheon counters� of yore. But this PFAW report is, quite frankly, something of a bore. The relentless and routine conclusion that Roberts is against all the rights and liberties that we hold dear lacks any nuance that would make it credible. Quite the opposite, it reads more like an effort to rally the dwindling faithful to a cause that looks as though it is doomed to failure.

Why? It is important to remember the issues that brought Bork down, apart from questions of demeanor and appearance. It was his spirited (indeed intemperate) language against Title II of the Civil Rights Act on public accommodation; it was the firing of Archibald Cox as special prosecutor; it was his public attack on Griswold; and, in a last place, it was his statement that the First Amendment only covered political speech in his Indiana Law Journal article.

Roberts has not performed any public acts that would bring attention to him; and his own private views, whatever they may be, do not get the same traction as public statements, which signal to the world how committed you are to a particular position. The work done as a lawyer, for a client, in an office context gets discounted down radically as it should. The scattershot approach of the PFAW memo makes it a less than compelling document. I think that it is designed to raise funds from the faithful. I don�t see it as dominating public debate.

The second point that comes through loud and clear from the PFAW�s position paper is its utter dogmatism. It tells us what the right positions are, but it does not explain why they are right. Nor does it give us any sense of what the wrong arguments are. Yet everyone knows that all government programs are capable of excess, so that some line-drawing or qualification is required to be credible. But to introduce the type of ambiguity that raises credibility is to lose the strong focus. I don�t see any real way around this. The problem that PFAW has is that it has a weak case because Roberts is not a candidate who polarizes like Bork did. I don�t think that it is necessary to trouble ourselves, or anyone else, with it further.

 

 

 

FEATURED DISCUSSION ARCHIVE:


Obamacare Decision: Reactions, July 2012
Law School Faculty Diversity, May-June 2012
Class Actions, May 2012
Constitutionality of Individual Mandate, March 2012
Human Rights and International Law, February-March 2012
The constitutionality of President Obama's recess appointments, January 2012
Do caps on medical malpractice damages hurt consumers?, December 2011
Trial Lawyers Inc.: State Attorneys General, October 2011
Wal-Mart v. Dukes, April 2011
Kagan Supreme Court nomination, May-June 2010
Election roundtable, November-December 2006
Who's the boss, September 2006
Medical judgement, July 2006
Lawyer Licensing, May 2006
Contingent claims, April 2006
Smoking guns, July 2004

Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.