May 27, 2009 02:38pm
by: M. Dickinson
[This opinion piece graciously contributed by M. Dickinson of FreeSpeechRevolution.com (linked in the box to the right). We suggest all who find this interesting to go and read the many articles and interviews there. -Ed.]
The judicial history of Supreme Court Justice Nominee Sonia Sotomayor is making waves in the mainstream media. Nominated Tuesday by President Barack Obama, many are beginning to examine comments made by Sotomayor in 2001 in which she says that personal experiences, ''Affect the facts that judges choose to see. I simply do not know exactly what the difference will be in my judging, but I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.''
On its surface this small news note may appear to have virtually nothing to do with free speech. In reality, this comment has everything to do with free speech. At its very foundation, the goal of the first amendment and free speech is to discuss and examine ideas free from tethers and totally from scratch. The founding fathers did not accept fact as fact simply because it was told to them as being so. They wondered who said the King of England is to be revered and respected. Where is it written and why do we have to listen to him?
While the founders of this country took that attitude and used it to build a democracy in which virtually everything is publicly questioned and debated, the generations of the last two to three decades have slacked in keeping it. Too often, we have made topics off limits for political discussion, essentially closing the public policy debate on them. Many people doggedly accept the truths of Christianity, and get violently upset when they are questioned or debated using science. Why? What is so wrong with teaching scientific evolution to public school students versus the theory of there was a ''boom'' and people came out of it?
Trace that same logic into any public policy debate. Who says any one religion is better than the next? Why is it ''fanatical'' or a ''red flag'' if a Muslim prays in public, yet few think anything of it if a Christian does? Who says North Korea shouldnít have nuclear weapons? Who says itís wrong for gays to marry? Who says itís obscene to film women and men having sex with each other? Where do these so-called ''truths'' come from? Who says its ''unpatriotic'' to say America isnít always right, as some media outlets proclaim?
Laws are made by elected representatives who act as ''social'' judges of behavior. They pass laws based on what they think is best for their constituency. You donít like the job they do, run against them. If someone in Louisiana thinks Senator David Vitter is a hypocrite who preaches family values but screws call girls, make your issues public and run against him. Live in Alaska and donít like the fact that Sarah Palin preaches abstinence while her daughter is out humping around and getting knocked up? Call her on it. Run against her.
Courts and judges play a key role in determining public policy. In short term, they can provide injunctions at the local level, which stop laws dead in their tracks. Many times states and or the federal government have passed laws knowing they will be stopped by injunction almost immediately, due to constitutionality issues.
In the long term, courts can void acts of congress. As bad as Bush and his Republican Congress possibly were, it took three election cycles for the American people to eradicate them from the national scene. Courts can act quicker than that.
Judges and the courts decide which of these laws, or which parts of laws, are constitutional. When reviewing the law it is important to remember that it is inherently grey and not black and white. Different backgrounds and experience see things differently. Itís the varying shades of grey in between that in theory carve the technicalities of the law which allow us to be protected, yet free at the same time. The law is in many ways made to be broken.
When the Supreme Court sits down to review the constitutionality of issues presented to them, it is important they reflect a diverse group. If a room full of the brightest artists in the world are drawing a model, it is important they draw it from every angle and not just from one side.
FreeSpeechRevolution.com was founded by Mike Dickinson. If you want to be involved, offer ideas, or exercise your right to free speech and tell him you hate his ideas please email him at Mike@FreeSpeechRevolution.com