Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Quick, Which Current Supreme Court Decisions Do You Disagree With?
Off the top of my head, 3 come to mind: the Ledbetter decision (but only because it was recently in campaign news and I read about it, regarding equal pay and the timing of discrimination claims), Bush v Gore - obviously, because I will never forget or get over that one, and last year's Hein decision (which I only know about because I write about church-state issues at my other blog). I'm sure there are many more, but no others I would pinpoint just at the moment of thinking of the topic.

What I'm getting at is I don't think it's a big deal that Palin couldn't think of any that she disagrees with, apart from Roe. Hell, for one thing, what big decisions have conservatives lost in recent years? That LA death penalty case, and one of the Guantanamo detainee cases, I think? Even those took me 10 minutes or so to come up with while typing this post.

When the cameras are rolling and someone asks you to name some, I think you get a pass. I mean, you should be able to dismiss the question with a little more poise than she showed in her bumbling vamp, but that's a different problem. I don't think coming up blank in itself makes you an unserious person, or ill equipped to deal with the broad strokes of public policy (we have other evidence that indicts her on those fronts). As much as it pains lawyer types to hear it, those kinds of things just aren't in the front of people's concern, and so it's not in the forefront of concern of the people running to represent them. Economy, security, opportunity, justice, those are the things people care about. Memorizing the canon of Supreme Court precedent really isn't a prerequisite for federal office.

Having said that, I would like my VP to be able to point to specific legislation the opposition Congress passed that she would have rejected, and be able to articulate a sensible, non-slogany philosophy that would drive her selection of judges, should she become President (fingers trembling as I type that) - you know, the kinds of decisions she's actually running to potentially make. I wish Couric had asked Palin that sort of question, or maybe found a way to ascertain her commitment to First Amendment principles, instead of the question she asked.

I know you and I are not running for VP, but seriously, I ask of non-lawyers, if you were in the middle of a televised interview you couldn't escape and somebody asked you that, could you come up with a list on the spot? What would they be? Can somebody explain to me why this is the biggest gaffe ever? I'm certainly willing to be convinced and add this to my list of reasons why she's fundamentally unqualified and unprepared to be President. How many do you think Couric could have named, by the way?

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