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Friday, January 20, 2006

E.J. Dionne gets something right.

I’ve been known to make fun of E.J. Dionne, it’s true, but when I read his column today I did find some agreement, though, let’s be honest, not much.  The column is on the Supreme Court’s ruling this week in Gonzales v. Oregon.  In it, Dionne writes that while  he disagrees with the assisted suicide law in question, he thinks the court decided the case correctly.   While I haven’t read the opinion yet (hey, it’s our first week back, and I’ve been trying to keep up with classes for once), I agreed with letting the Oregon law stand, even though I am against assisted suicide.  Now, where I take issue with Dionne is here:

“For the life of me, I cannot understand why moderates in both political parties don't see that Alito's confirmation would continue to push the court toward an activist jurisprudence determined to write conservative ideological preferences into law. President Bush surely knew what he was doing when he named Roberts and then Alito to the court. Bush and his conservative allies have the guts to fight for the future they want. You wonder if those with a different vision can show the same determination.

As it happens, assisted suicide is one issue on which my beliefs coincide with those of many conservatives. But I want my view to prevail through persuasion in the democratic process, not because an attorney general and sympathetic judges impose it on every state in the Union.”

This case aside for the moment, but even if one wanted to throw the “activist” label at conservative jurists, for the most part they do not seek to write, well, anything into  law, since they generally recognize that such is not their place.  Now, in this particular case Dionne could be right, but it is far from the general trend.  As for his last sentence, I wonder if he sees how easily that idea could (and should) be applied to Roe.

Also, if you want someone to really take Dionne on, try Ed Whelan at Bench Memos.


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