Friday, May 7, 2010

Racism, Idealism, and Justice

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie boldly moved to reshape the state's highest court when he refused to renominate sitting Supreme Court Justice John Wallace, instead nominating Anne Patterson, a Morris County attorney, to replace him.

To say this move is contraversial is an understatement. Christie rightly sees this court as the driving force behind New Jersey's burgeoning welfare state. Over the years, the high court has literally forced legislation that created the state income tax to fund the creation of municipal welfare. The resulting municipal state aid program has grown to where it now eats up more than half of the state's budget.

The Left is furious. Tom Moran has a column entitled Gov. Christie may have picked a fight he's 'almost certain to lose' with N.J. Supreme Court nominee, in which he lists multiple reasons why this decision is a bad one. There is one reason that didn't draw much attention, if the comments section is any indication. But it is of major importance, I believe, and triggered this comment response from me:

Posted by zemack
May 04, 2010, 5:51PM

There are numerous flaws in Tom Moran's reasoning, I believe. But by far the most egregious is this brief poisonous statement:

"Leave aside even the fury among African-Americans who now have no voice on the court."

No Voice??? Are we to assume that justice is not a concern of African-Americans? Any judge who cleaves to a rigidly objective standard of justice is the voice of all people regardless of the wholly irrelevant issue of race. I most strongly object to the racist premise that underlies this criticism of Governor Christie's decision. I am also very offended.

Justice relates only to the individual actions related to that which is in direct control of a person's volition, or free will. No person has control over his genetic lineage.

The implication is that African-Americans need racial favors from the court, because they are incapable of succeeding in a just society of political equality. They are incapable of individual self-determination, personal goal-directed achievement, self-esteem, and a mind of their own. By implication, the same goes for Italian-Americans like myself. This highly offends me not only because it is a slap at reason and American principles, but because it is a declaration that I too am incapable of the above-cited virtues as well. Do Italians also need a "voice" on the High Court? How about all other ethnic groups? The Racial determinists must say yes. Then you have no justice, because no one is judged as an individual with his own self-made character, but as an inconsequential cell in some racial amoeba which reigns supreme under some self-appointed "leader" or "voice".

Haven't we learned anything from humanity's barbaric tribal past, or from the brutality of 20th century collectivism? Hasn't the American experience shown once and for all that the individual man, and only the individual man, is the one and supreme value?

There is only one voice that belongs to any court of law - the voice of justice. And I don't mean the anti-concept "social justice", which is rooted in collectivist ideology and is designed to obliterate the actual concept of justice. No subjective whims, including race, should ever come between a jurist's judgement of the objective facts as they relate to objective law, and his judicial decisions.

Whatever reasons one has for supporting or opposing Christie's decision, Justice John Wallace's status as an alleged tribal "voice" has no place in the discussion - and no place in the judicial selection process of a country whose very symbol is that of a blindfolded Lady Justice! No civility or brotherhood will ever be possible as long as unchosen group affiliation like race supersedes as a factor of judgement to any degree the volitional actions and natural autonomy of individuals.

It's long past time that we expunged racism in all of its manifestations - Left, Right, or center.

Another correspondent answered me with this:

Posted by DisgruntledAndDisillusioned
May 04, 2010, 6:26PM
To zemack,

I enjoyed your post, I found it inspiring and idealistic, but unfortunately unrealistic. For even though justice is blind, the actors in it's theatre seldom are. The very concept of justice is debatable, which is why there is always at least two sides to an argument. That being the case a jurist is a product of his/her background & experiences, and that background is key component of their judical opinion, like it or not. So with that in mind, aren't we best served by a judical body that is representative of all it's people?

The belief that the ideal is not the practical is very prevalent and very dangerous. It says that the good can not be attained, and that the best we can hope for is some grey life crapshoot that leaves us DisgruntledAndDisillusioned. I attempted to answer this soul as best I can in a short space. It's obvious he is not yet a lost cause, and can still be rescued from today's intellectual muck.

Posted by zemack
May 04, 2010, 7:22PM


Idealistic? Yes. Unrealistic?. Certainly not.

There are indeed “at least two sides to an argument”, but there is only one reality and it exists independent of any man’s consciousness. This means the facts and the truth are out there, and they are the final arbiters of any dispute. The human mind is capable of discovering the facts and rendering a just decision, but only if one chooses to commit oneself to objectivity. The right decisions may not happen every time, as humans are fallible, but that doesn’t mean objectivity is not possible and should not be pursued.

No one is determined by “his/her background & experiences”. Every one of us must choose – to think or not. A person who blindly allows himself to be mentally “shaped” by the influences he is exposed to is not a “product” of his background, but of his own choice not to think and judge. But anyone is capable of rising above any background influences and excercising independence.

The concept of justice is possible as long as there are people unwilling to default on that responsibility to think. There are. Those kinds of jurists, the ones who cleave to reason as an absolute and consciously refuse to allow non-objective influences like “background” to become “a key component of their judicial opinion”, are the kinds that belong on the courts. That is what makes the ideal of justice realistic.

Your final question was answered in my original post.

Thanks for your interest in my comments. The fact that you responded this way shows that you haven’t completely lost your idealism, or become completely disillusioned. The ideal is possible and necessary, but only if we fight for it. Get it back!

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