Towards A Good Samaritan World

Thursday, July 14, 2005


An intriguing article about the fiery libertarian judges recently promoted by the Republicans: Janice Rogers Brown. Asks Jon Rauch:

Here arises a question for Republicans. If Brown's views were defensible, why not defend them?

Two possibilities present themselves. One is expediency, or, to use the sort of strong language that Brown herself sometimes favors, cowardice. On this theory, Republicans agree with Brown but know her views are controversial, indeed unpopular, and prefer not to make a case for them...

A second possibility is that Republicans ran from Brown's views because they regard them with ambivalence, or even embarrassment. On this theory, what Republicans support is not so much Brown's philosophy as her life story and the opportunity to put a conservative black woman on the federal bench. After all, Brown is a small-government ideologue in an age of Big Government conservatism.

Brown's appointment is mysterious, and remarkable. Bush and Clinton are both center-pushers: Clinton in a sense outflanked the Republicans on the right when he signed welfare reform, and Bush outflanked the Democrats on the left with his farm bill, Medicare bill, and education bill. In each case, center-pushing was politically successful: it brought Clinton six years of power and popularity after he was humiliated in 1994, and it delivered Bush re-election and Republican domination of Congress. But center-pushing leaves the parties internally conflicted, because electoral pragmatism problematizes political philosophy. The post-Clinton Democrats, lacking a viable ethos, are confused, bitter and irresponsible. We must hope that the contradictions within the Republican coalition prove more fertile. The confirmation of Judge Brown exemplifies those contradictions.


  • It is possible that the republican support for Judge Brown can be attributed to a desire to have a court which is more conservative than they are. A very conservative judiciary would lean toward less activism, and though they may disagree with some of Brown's views, they might be attracted to the idea of a judge who acted as a counterbalance to other more liberal judges and liberal legislation.

    By Blogger Steven, at 9:57 AM  

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