Insights from John Fund at Political Diary

On Senator Patrick Leahy recent comments on Justice Roberts:

. . . . "I think in his actions and the actions in which he has joined, he has made the court an arm of the Republican Party," Mr. Leahy said. "They (the Republicans) say they don't want an activist Supreme Court, but this is the most activist Supreme Court we have ever seen, running roughshod over the Constitution, like Plessy v. Ferguson did."

Those are fighting words. In the infamous Plessy case, the Supreme Court in 1896 declared that states could practice racial segregation under the "separate but equal" doctrine. The decision was finally overturned in 1954 in the famous Brown v. Board of Education decision that led to the desegregation of many of the nation's schools.

Mr. Leahy is comparing that history with a five-to-four decision that Mr. Roberts joined in last month which declared that it was impermissible for governments to use race in the assignment of children to public schools. Many legal scholars believed the Roberts court was acting in the finest tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., who declared in his 1963 "March on Washington" speech that he longed for the day when people would be "judged by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin." While Mr. Roberts didn't quote King, he clearly shared those sentiments when he wrote: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Rather than at least grant Mr. Roberts has an honest disagreement, Mr. Leahy has chosen to smear him. As for President Bush, the Vermont Democrat was openly contemptuous of his court choices. "I am not sure the president realizes what he has done with the court. He was told by Dick Cheney and others, 'This is what you are going to do.'" . . .

On the "ethics reform" legislation before the Senate

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has brokered an ethics reform bill that is a travesty when it comes to shining light on earmarks, the pork barrel projects members slip into bills without any real scrutiny. Mr. Reid, for instance, made sure that he retained the right to decide what qualifies as an earmark instead of giving that responsibility to the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian. . . . .



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