Tuesday, December 07, 2004

This Minority Leader May Be Worse Then The Last One 

A truly amazing exchange took place on Sunday's "Meet the Press" between Tim Russert and Harry Reid, the new Senate Minority Leader. James Taranto picks it up on the Wall Street Journal's Opinion On-line:

Russert: Let me turn to judicial nominations. Again, Harry Reid on National Public Radio, Nov. 19: "If they"--the Bush White House--"for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong. If they give us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his opinions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind."

Could you support Antonin Scalia to be chief justice of the Supreme Court?

Reid: If he can overcome the ethics problems that have arisen since he was selected as a justice of the Supreme Court. And those ethics problems--you've talked about them; every people talk--every reporter's talked about them in town--where he took trips that were probably not in keeping with the code of judicial ethics. So we have to get over this. I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy. And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute. So--

Russert: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?

Reid: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.

I wonder if Mr. Reid has ever really read an opinion by Clarence Thomas? Based upon his views I sincerely doubt it. Here is an example of a "poorly written opinion" from the Zelman case allowing vouchers to be used at religious schools:

Ten States have enacted some form of publicly funded private school choice as one means of raising the quality of education provided to underprivileged urban children. These programs address the root of the problem with failing urban public schools that disproportionately affect minority students. Society?s other solution to these educational failures is often to provide racial preferences in higher education. Such preferences, however, run afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment?s prohibition against distinc-tions based on race. See Plessy, 163 U. S., at 555 (Harlan, J., dissenting). By contrast, school choice programs that involve religious schools appear unconstitutional only to those who would twist the Fourteenth Amendment against itself by expansively incorporating the Establishment Clause. Converting the Fourteenth Amendment from a guarantee of opportunity to an obstacle against education reform distorts our constitutional values and disserves those in the greatest need. As Frederick Douglass poignantly noted "no greater benefit can be bestowed upon a long benighted people, than giving to them, as we are here earnestly this day endeavoring to do, the means of an education."

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