November 9, 2005

A political vault over the casket of Rosa Parks.

Here is Jesse Jackson's execrable anti-Alito rant. Ugh.

UPDATE: I deleted the long quote. I didn't like the way it looked, taking up all that space at the top of the blog. Go over there and read it. It's disgusting and completely distorted and unfair to Alito.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Todd Zywicki takes special interest in Jackson's promotion of the "Constitution in Exile" conspiracy theory.

MORE: Steven Kaus at Huffington Post reads this post as flaking out over Jackson's use of the term "Constitution in Exile." Makes you wonder about Kaus's ability to read and present things straight, doesn't it? I admit I could have itemized what I didn't like about Jackson's piece, but I just didn't want to bother with it.


me said...

Jesse Jackson has no credibility.

With respect to the Supreme Court, while I have nothing against Alito (he takes principled positions), it is interesting to revisit the role of the Supreme Court in 2005, given the expansion of Federal Power, the Executive, and the decline of democracy in the United States.

Clearly, Justice Marshall's oft-quoted line that it is the role of the judiciary to say what the law is, welds more power now than in Marshall's time. For this reason, Bush and Co. did everything in their power to get elected, not so much for a Bush second term, but to finally make a change on the Supreme Court.

The question is whether a strict constructionist viewpoint remains valid in an age where the voters are so heavily manipulated by money driven campaigns.

Dave said...

"Jesse Jackson has no credibility."

Actually, he has a lot of credibility, and, at the risk of being presumptuous, I would aver that his credibility is the reason Ann is publicizing it.

You can't ignore that which unfairly tars a nominee you support, especially if the words come from one as infamously racist and extortionist as Jackson.

Ann Althouse said...

Dave: Exactly. I am sure many people will read this and assume he must be right and Alito is a terrible political reactionary.

Saul: The fact remains that Bush has the appointment power and he's picked a worthy jurist. Actually, I'm not really sure what you're driving at.

me said...

Yes, Bush has the appointment power. My point, and maybe it ends up being circular reasoning (unless one can assume that nine intelligent justices can rise above partisanship on some levels), is that the Federal Government has been so severely distorted over the years, that to take the position that the Supreme Court should remain as it was originally intended to be, may not necessarily be the best approach. In other words, if the Legislature and the Executive are no longer taking on the role that the founding fathers envisioned, then why should the Supreme Court remain static?

Dustin said...


Money heavy campaigning and the interpretation of law are hardly comparable entities. Are you suggesting that our law (and interpretation of such) should change depending on the type of campaigns we run in order to elect our democratic representatives?

How does that commercial go, "Your long term investments shouldn't be altered by daily headlines." Politics come and go, the law is the steady reminder that the ebb and flow revolves around a standard, not the other way around.

goesh said...

I'm waiting for Cindy Sheehan to critique Alito's rulings, or has she already??

dick said...


Your point seems to me to be an example of "go along to get along" writ large. The problem is with the executive and the legislative branches. If the judicial also does not fulfill its role as written, then why bother with the constitution at all.

What should happen is to bring the legislative and executive back to fulfill their proper functions which are make the law and enforce the law. Then we will be back in the proper allocation of functions and the constitution will again fulfill the role it was designed to.

me said...

It probably does start with the judiciary. In any event, I think we need a candid re-evaluation of the status quo in light of "The War on Terror," immigration, the vast federal debt, etc.

My guess is that if this country operated in a more forthright manner, both on the left and right, we could eliminate much of the bickering, and start addressing the serious issues we face.

PatCA said...

Whoa, a "return to states' rights"? How subversive!

Unknown said...

What a disgusting editorial. It's very "I'm not saying he's Hitler, but..." isn't it?

Al Maviva said...

I dunno that Revvum Jackson is that far off. He is the only man alive other than Ralph Neas, who noticed that we conservative attorneys have been evilly grinning and rubbing our crinkly hands together, a la C. Montgomery Burns, waiting for the day we can stop paying our Black law clerks and associates, in order to keep 'em down and wring free legal work out of them. Well, we'll still probably have to comp them dinner if they work late, and provide sleeping cots in the break rooms, but generally it should really cut into associate labor costs, especially as our legal workforce gets more diverse.

My conservative friends who work in the IT world are also looking forward to the bidneth that segregated Black and White servers will generate for them. I mean, just look at Gateway computers, with that whole cow thing. The black is separate from the White! No mixed gray colors!


I think not.

/sarcastic disgust&outrage

Hamsun56 said...

Jackson is a demagogue for whom I have little respect. But he does does raise a point that I think is valid - that the judicial activists were on the morally correct side of the civil rights cases in the 50's and the 60's, while many of those who argued for the rights of states and the virtues of "strict constructionism" were doing so to maintain the de jure racist status quo.

For me, judicial activism is a subversion of the law which should only be used in extreme situations - where the law is clearly morally wrong. Segregation in the south was a clear cut example in my mind. Laws banning abortion much less so.

Julian Morrison said...

It seems odd to me that Jackson has gone after such an obvious non-issue. Even liberals must know by now that Alito has no openly originalist agenda. What's odd is that Jackson has left off attacking him for a much more factual point: that he's a judge's judge. Like Roberts he applies the law and precedent, and doesn't give a damn about "social justice" or such liberal malarkey. Jackson & co could rightly say that this makes the court less likely to advance his "civil rights" agenda in the teeth of existing law. He could even validly suggest that such a court in the past might have never made several of his favourite rulings. Whether you consider this a bad thing will vary with your viewpoint, but nobody could claim it was a lie. So, why the deception? Perhaps he only really intends to preach to the choir - and they'll believe anything.

Troy said...

Jackson may have credibility. What he does not have is shame or virtue. He has plenty of gall and balls the size of Jupiter.

Activists and the civil rights movement. To some degree you're right, but Brown was a proper interp of the 14th A. which says that states cannot discriminate based on race (strict scrutiny, etc...) Also using Title VII and Commerce Clause,the amendments against poll taxes etc. That's judges interpreting laws on the books passed by the elected branches of gov't. SCOTUS didn't make up the right to have equal school facilities they just corrected the asinine definition of equal facilities from 1896. Like Roe -- just because it's precedent does not mean it's good law or should be followed.

Killing a human being (Not "person") is not as bad as keeping kids from a good school? Or at least important an issue enough for us at least to have a political debate on the issue? So important that we can't be trusted to have a reasoned debate but need judges to instruct us on when life begins and when it can be taken?

Gordon Freece said...

I'm really fascinated by the contrast between the picture of Alito painted by people who've seen his legal thinking close up, and those (or at least those who don't like him) who've just read about the outcomes of his decisions.

What's remarkable is that the second group has such inhumanly acute perceptions, that they can detect and infalliably interpret subliminal cues in those decisions, even (or perhaps especially) if they haven't read them. And by interpreting these cues they can, literally, read his mind, and form a much more accurate and complete picture of the way he thinks than any of his colleagues have ever been able to do. He fooled everybody, but he can't fool Jesse Jackson.

What's really sad, I think, is the way the extreme-far-right-wing extremist radical neocon reactionary radical extremists are trying to paint this as some kind of partisanism.

Julian Morrison, if people hear the same thing, repeated incessantly by enough voices for a long enough time, it starts to sound reasonable.

tiggeril said...

The Sun-Times also publishes Mark Steyn's column. What a contrast!

Julian Morrison said...

P. Froward: back in the day, maybe. But in this age of instant refutation? Only the willingly convinced will buy it. The "big lie" is dead as a mass propaganda technique.

knox said...

Wait, I thought the federal government conspired to kill black people after Katrina... yet Jackson wants it to have *more* power... I'm confused!

Hamsun56 said...

I agree with your point. I don't think Brown overturning Plessy was an example of judicial activism - it was a proper correction of a bad precedent.

I was thinking of the very expansive reading of the Commerce Clause to stop local, non-state segration, such as in Katzenbach v. McClung

Gordon Freece said...

Julian, I'm not saying it sounds reasonable because they don't know better. I'm saying it sounds reasonable because people keep saying it all the time. It's well below the rational level.

Hamsun56 said...

Troy: I now believe that Roe was incorrectly decided and that the whole issue of when life begins (I think that is the moral crux of the abortion debate) is best left to the political arena.

For many years I supported Roe and pretty much any "progressive" judicial activism by SCOTUS. I now see that was a consquence of a mind set by the civil rights movement and the Viet Nam War. Back then it was clear - Liberals good, conservatives bad.

I guess if you really believe that life starts at conception, then you would be morally correct to subvert any law that permits abortion. Of course overturning Roe, just moves the question to the political arena, which I support, but I guess we would disagree there as I'd probably support codifying something close to Roe.

Troy said...


Katzenbach -- yes -- a nice piece of judicial activism. I can see both sides but then as a lawyer that's my blessing and my curse!!


But you see, Bush is illegitimate so it's really not the "elected" federal gov't because it's not "by the people" since OH was rigged and FLA before that. JJ means the "real" federal gov't that will come back when Dems are re-elected and the Constitution comes back as well as gov't by the people.

Troy said...


I'm not prepared to say it's murder and if I were a judge it woould be dishonorable of me to take an oath I could not in good conscience uphold. If I swear to uphold the law, then I uphold the law not my personal morality.

I think that's a big difference between textualism and living constitution. Swearing to uphold and enforce the law as opposed to making the law.

No one -- not even Falwell and Robertson truly thinks this world is not fraught with moral dilemmas. Judges make decisions and the law as imperfect as it is -- is the mechanism. I could allow reasonable regulation of abortion as a lower court judge. As a SCOTUS Justice I would reverse Roe as badly decided and overreaching on legislative prerogative -- it would just happen to coincide with my moral view.

Hamsun56 said...

I agree with your sentiment that "it would be dishonorable of me to take an oath I could not in good conscience uphold" .

I just don't take an absolutist position here. I believe that in extreme situations it is morally correct to subvert the letter of the law. For me racial segregation laws were so odious that judicial activism was called for.

Of course there is always the danger of the slippery slope, which I think many slipped down with Roe.

Pooh said...

I think Saul's underlying point, as I understand it, has some value. If I'm not mistaken, the Court was not intended to be the sole arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution. (and whether, absent Marbury it was even intended to be the final arbiter is another question entirely. But I am sufficiently uninformed on the particulars of that debate to say anything other then it makes pragmatice sense for the Court to occupy that role. But I digress).

The legislature and the executive were also supposed to independantly evaluate the Consitutionality of their actions. If one argues that those branches have largely abdicated that portion of their responsibilities (which, at very least, is not an absurd claim, especially WRT War Powers), then the Court's "caretaker" role becomes more important, and perhaps requires more searching analysis then originalism/strict constructionism would allow.

Having said all that, I'm not sure I agree with it, just that its a point worth discussing rather than dismissing.

Matt Ailey said...

Jesse Jackson makes me physically ill every time he opens his racist mouth.

He makes a practice of making extreme statements. He is also fully aware that these ridiculous statements will be dissected and torn to pieces by any literate person. He directs his statements toward the uneducated--and this is not limited to African Americans! This applies to people of every ethnicity! Only a person of little reasoning capability would accept any of Jackson's statements. They are simply too offensive to be taken seriously by the intelligencia of America. His targets are the people who cannot think for themselves, and unfortunately, there seem to be more and more of his henchmen every day.

Additionally, Jackson KNOWS that his statements are outrageous. I can see him deriving great enjoyment from brainwashing mindless, glued-to-the-televison bodies.

Knemon said...

"in an age where the voters are so heavily manipulated by money driven campaigns."

As opposed to what previous age of informed voters and clean elections? The 19th century?

"Maw, Maw, where's my Paw?"
"Gone to the White House - haw, haw, haw!"

dick said...


you may very well be right as you separate out the various good vs bad things that Jesse has done in the past. The problem I have is that as he makes his statements, just how is one who is not clued into what he might do or say that is good vs what he might do or say that is bad and judge accordingly supposed to do. The whole public does not await his statements with bated breath and then apply superior logic to determine whether to say good going, Jesse or STFU, Jesse. By the time the ones who are able to apply this logic do so, the rest of the population at whom he aims his words are already taken in and going on to the next stage. That is the problem I have with Jesse. He does, I am sure, make statements at times just to get a rise from people. Unfortunately it is not always possible to tell when he is doing that and when he really means what he says.

Gerry said...

Saul, the problem with your first line is that it was missing a word (and would need some grammar tweaking afterwards).

Jesse Jackson should have no credibility.

Dave and Ann are right that he does. He shouldn't, but life is not always right.

Gordon Freece said...

mary, I don't see anybody suggesting that the problem with Jackson is that he's not white, or not "intellectually trained". I see people objecting to the fact that he talks absolute nonsense much of the time. If he's done fine things in the past, by all means let's give him credit for it, but doing fine things doesn't earn you the right to be taken seriously when you're talking nonsense, decades later.

I wouldn't cancel William Shockley's Nobel because of the way he ended up; would you accuse me of hating transistors, or physicists, because I disagree with his later views? Don't be ridiculous.

BeyonceKnowsBest said...

I can only assume from the title of this post that it is meant to criticize the method, timing, and the substance of Mr. Jackson's comments.

As far as the method and timing go, who here exactly has more insight into what Ms.Parks would have wanted carried out in her name than Mr. Jackson? If such a person exists, please provide the basis of this insight. Lets start with the most recent fact showing Mr. Jackson's close connection to Ms. Parks -- he delivered her eulogy. Did anyone here even attend the service (or did you stay away like Mr. Bush did because of your pressing lunch date with Prince Charles and his second wife?)? Did anyone here even walk past her laying in repose in DC?

This same absurd criticism was leveled at people speaking after the death of Mr. Wellstone (umm, including the man's own son). Somehow people who disagree with the policies that were passionately advanced by each of these two figures felt it inappropriate that these policies were advanced in their name, at their own memorial services. So I fully expect this stinging rebuke to follow any comments drumming up support for socially conservative policies when James Dobson breaks free of this mortal coil.

As for the substance of Jackson's comments, clearly the man has always waxed poetical in his preaching. But stripping down his rhetoric to the policies he advances, including the traditionalist view of judicial philosophy he endorses, you all just simply disagree with him. You're allowed, and he's allowed.

Applicant said...

I'd certainly agree that JJ says things calculated to inflame, but I wonder: isn't it plausible that his aim is to generate the bulging-eyed frothifying I see here just as much as it is to inflame his "mindless, glued to the television" followers?

Ben Regenspan said...

I admit I could have itemized what I didn't like about Jackson's piece, but I just didn't want to bother with it.

If you don't want to just be preaching to the choir here, it really would be helpful if you "itemized". As you are a law professor, I would be interested to hear your critique of the actual piece, because to me the execrability of Jackson's column (as opposed to his persona) is not self-evident. I'd specifically like to see your reaction to this paragraph:

This is a judge who rejected an African-American defendant challenging a verdict by an all-white jury purged of all black jurors because of their race. Alito mocked statistical evidence that showed the prosecutions' systematic exclusion of African Americans from juries, suggesting it was as meaningless as the fact that a disproportionate number of presidents had been left-handed.

Ann Althouse said...

Ben: I have many other posts about the Alito nomination and the reaction to it. Jackson's piece is so badly done and full of distortions that I didn't think it was worth my time. It would clutter my blog with a long post on a subject I've already talked about way too much. Read some of the other posts if you really care to know what I have to say about Alito and his critics.

Applicant: I think Jackson's purpose is to shape what people who trust him think. That's part of what I find so repugnant about the linked piece.