Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Suicide Pact: How Scalia's Shamanism is Shaping the Future John Roberts Court

Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision upholding Oregon’s assisted suicide law is a great victory for humanism and the rule of law. It is a rare defeat, these days of bullying pieties, for Washington’s College of Cardinals occasionally referred to, for politeness’ sake, as Bush Administration conservatives. But the decision should dispense with any lingering (though still potent) inventions about Chief Justice John Roberts’ “pragmatism,” “moderation,” or intellectual honesty. Only Sam Alito, who’s more right-wing than Thomas, makes him look a Hamburg winter’s shade to the left of the hyper-right. That’s not saying much for someone who remains firmly clenched somewhere between Thomas and Scalia. Roberts is the stealth reactionary any close reading of his jock-like, power-hungry legal decisions make him out to be. His willingness to go along with the dissenters’ oily, Bush v. Gore-like reasoning around constitutional principle (to say nothing of their own federalist principles) reveals him to be dishonest, too, when politically expedient. So much for a change on the court.

But it’s worth taking a closer look at the dishonesty’s shamanism. It hums in Scalia’s dissent. Scalia won’t be around for ever. His dissents are teaching his successors, who are verging on a commanding (and, to the country’s independent judiciary, fatal) majority, how to pull the wool over the Constitution’s eyes. Read the full analysis…