Fairness v. Justice: Obama and the Supreme Court
By: Guest Authors
by MJ Jacobsen
I am a conservative, but not a Republican. As an activist against illegal immigration, I am certainly no fan of John McCain. It’s the morning after the third and final presidential debate, and I still haven’t decided who will get my vote on November 4th.
I have many fundamental philosophical differences with Barack Obama, but last night’s debate highlighted one in the brightest of fluorescent yellows: the selection of justices to sit on the Supreme Court.
On the subject, Obama stated that “…the most important thing in any judge is their capacity to provide fairness and justice to the American people.”
Fairness and justice. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Unless, of course, you actually stop and remind yourself of the Supreme Court’s role in our federal government triumvirate.
The Supreme Court has the power and mandate to settle federal government issues and disputes between states, and to interpret the U.S. Constitution. The founding fathers understood the importance of not giving too much power to any one person or branch of government, which is why the Supreme Court is not also responsible for enforcing the law — and not responsible for making it, either.
You see, the Supreme Court is, by definition, in the business of dispensing justice — the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings.
Where Obama runs into trouble is with the issue of fairness. Not in its most general definition (free from bias, dishonesty or injustice), but rather in its specifically judicial meaning: legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules.
Obama defined the “fairness” he will seek in a Supreme Court nominee by telling America he “…will look for those judges who…hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.” But the nine highest judges in our land are there to make decisions based on the Constitution, not the individual circumstances of what the “folks are going through.”
Obama went on to illustrate his clear lack of understanding (or perhaps acceptance) of the great importance of the judicial branch staying strictly within the boundaries of the authority with which it has been entrusted. He cited the case of Lily Ledbetter, who sued her former employer, Goodyear Rubber & Tire Company, for gender-based pay discrimination. She won the case, which was appealed by Goodyear, and subsequently heard and reversed by the Supreme Court based on a statutory limitation in filing the original case.
But Obama didn’t focus on the facts of the case, or the law itself, which was the duty of the Supreme Court. Rather, he wanted the highest court in the land to rule based on Ledbetter’s personal situation.
“I think that it’s important for judges to understand that if a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family, and is being treated unfairly, then the court has to stand up, if nobody else will. And that’s the kind of judge that I want.”
In other words, Obama wants the Supreme Court to ignore the rule of law, to discount it, to circumvent it on a case-by-case basis, decided by what they personally think is fair or right. It is the very opposite of the impartial, strictly constitutionally based decisions that we, the people, need and to which we are entitled from that body.
One would hope that, as a legislator himself, Obama would understand that the power and obligation to write laws that provide a framework to address inequities lies with Congress. One would hope he’d battle to keep the balance of power that is so crucial to our system’s successful representation of the American people.
But last night he told us clearly and unequivocally exactly what kind of justices he wants to put on the Supreme Court: justices who would see nothing wrong with considering my gender-based discrimination case differently than Ledbetter’s because I’m married and don’t have children to support.
And that’s a policy guaranteed to deny both justice AND fairness.
MJ Jacobsen writes for the Freedom Folks blog who are “Fighting Illegal Immigration One Post At A Time.” And is the host for the weekly Youtube show Blogs 4 Borders.