If Only They Meant What They Said  

There has been raised a question about Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, and his membership in The Federalist Society ( http://www.fed-soc.org  ). If they only meant what they said, then here are some inferences we could make about Mr. Roberts beliefs by dint of his participation in this organization based upon the Fed-Soc FAQ.  

1. "It (The Federalist Society) is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution.”  

Then one would suppose they would heartily encourage the Senate to question vigorously and to examine closely any nominee for the Supreme Court -- just to be sure candidates for this important position are chosen for their impartiality, intelligence and experience. Of course, they would not criticize as “too liberal” the current Supreme Court, the majority of who were appointed by past Republican, ersatz “conservative” administrations.  

If only they meant what they said.  

2. “…and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”

 Then I think they would agree the court overstepped it’s bounds when it ordered Florida to stop recounts in the 2000 election! Or is the court only “legislating from the bench” when it’s decisions conflict with the cynical purposes of Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, The Bush Family, Tom Delay, Radical Religious Nuts and multi-national corporations?  

If only they meant what they said.  

2. "(The Federalist Society members) believe and trust that individual citizens can make the best choices for themselves and society."  

In other words, a woman herself is in the best position to determine whether or not she should give birth, not the government. Certainly, they believe that an individual is in the best position to determine what benign vegetation he/she should grow in their yard -- and, yes, to inhale the smoke of the leaves in the privacy of their own homes f they deem reasonable to do so. Certainly, each adult can decide for himself/herself what is reasonable to read, view or say to other consenting adults. And, of course, in this era of Republican Rule, we’ve seen strong defense of these individual freedoms! (Republican readers -- please note this is “sarcasm” and not meant to be taken literally, as you would, for example, the Book of Revalation.)  

As a corollary, I would think The Federalist Society membership would strongly emphasize the need for an independent and informed press -- not one that is controlled largely by political hacks, on both sides of the aisle, and used to manipulate public opinion, not to inform.  

If only they meant  what they said.  

3. “The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities. This entails reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law.”

Traditional values such as those espoused by Ben Franklin, known in his time as “Lighting Rod”, not for his invention, but for his numerous scandalous liaisons. Maybe they’re referring to those values of slave owning, Thomas Jefferson. Perhaps they hold dear the values of Thomas Payne whose pamphlet, “Common Sense”, was fundamental in the American revolution, but who has been maligned by Neo-conservatives because of his condemnation of oligarchy … or George Washington who strongly advised against political party affiliations and organizations such as, oh my gawd, The Federalist Society… or America’s most revered author, the agnostic, Mark Twain… or perhaps Dwight Eisenhower who warned of the dangers of a “military/industrial complex” taking over our government… or perhaps they take their “traditional values” from John Stuart Mill in his “On Liberty” and it’s warnings of the “tyranny of the majority”! More likely, they are thinking of the values of Ward and June Cleaver… oh, THOSE values!!! The point is, “traditional values” has no meaning beyond the immediate family – each of us, by dint of being an individual, has our own value system and "individual liberty" depends upon our freedom to persue those values we cherish as individuals, not as some collective beast! I don’t see how government can’t simultaneously advance “traditional values” while protecting “individual liberty”… it’s one or the other.

 If only they said what they meant… and meant what they said!

 --Jim Stringer / July 2005