Thursday, July 21, 2005

Court Wars: The Old Boys Strike Back; Discerning the "views" of John Roberts & How Affirmative Action and Voting Rights don't Exist ...

We've sat on the sidelines and waited for the surging swell to level off for the past two days since the President announced his Surpreme Court nominee. The whole purpose of this is to deeply analyze exactly what's going on here - you know, cooler, reasonable heads do prevail in times like these.

What is obvious is quite a bit of struggling on the left to pinpoint what Judge Roberts is thinking or where he stands on a whole host of issues. What is also obvious is that, for certain reasons, little is said about how Roberts might reflect or has reflected on issues of race in America. Much is being made of where he might (or might not) stand on abortion - but, we hear little discussed as it relates to how he might opine on issues such as affirmative action or voting rights. Instead, the specter of a brutal abortion fight overshadows any dialogue on issues that are comparable in importance. In fact, whereas abortion transcends emotional and spiritual fault lines, issues directly impacting African Americans not only effect most demographics, but they criss cross all ideological and philosophical dimensions: social, economic, emotional, spiritual, political and racial. But, abortion, at this stage, is probably a more comfortable subject to discuss than race - or so it seems based on the perceived selective ignorance of both media and the political establishment. Abortion seems to be the pop political flavor of the month for hacks on the left and right. We watched CNN yesterday where, thankfully, DNC operative and former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazille presented concerns about the new Court's future positions on affirmative action and voting rights, only to have the subject instantly changed back to abortion and that was the last we heard of that.

Is there a larger effort to place these issues on the backburner? A sort of "here go those Black people again" attitude that pervades the discussion? We don't know. But, it reflects our position that the Black political establishment will need to muster some sort of leverage in this debate if the African American community is to have any impact on whether Roberts is confirmed. It also goes without saying that perhaps the reason affirmative action lacks mention is because, in a fast growing and competitive global economy, it's become less and less relevant in application. Therefore, it's high time for a new agenda that doesn't rely on affirmative action as the cobweb gathering centerpiece.

Conservatives seem smug and satisfied that they have picked their man; we are concerned that this reflects the "old (White) boy network" tendencies of the current Administration and government in general - the political establishment on both left and right are quick to assume that Roberts will get the nod. We are also concerned that diversity was, once again, thwarted in what could have been a rare opportunity to nominate a first Latino justice (current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) or a third African American justice (Pepsi Co. VP Larry Thompson).
But, we suspect Bush could possibly save that for last if Rehnquist retires any time soon. It all depends on the political climate of the moment.