Over the past few days I have been listening to the hearings for the appointment of Judge Roberts to the position of Chief Justice. Filling this position is of course a critical matter as the person who holds this office will likely have a profound influence on the shape of American culture. Thus, I am not surprised that people would be passionate when it comes to any nominee, and this of course includes Judge Roberts. To be honest, I do not know anything about him other than what has been expressed over the past few days through various news outlets. Apparently Judge Roberts is a polarizing figure, as I have heard comparisons made to fascist dictators as well as those who present him as a secular saint of sorts.
Throughout the hearings people have asked him questions that were designed for him to express some clear ideology in his response. Often his responses left his interrogators frustrated, leaving him to be charged with using verbal sleight-of-hand, meant to keep people in the dark about where he stands on key political issues. In some measure I share this frustration, because I too like people to be open about their convictions. However, I also realize that some circumstances do not allow for such simple declarations.
In reflecting on Judge Robert’ hearing, and particularly the nature of his responses, a question arose for me that I believe addresses a deeper issue in this whole affair. I wonder if it is possible for a person to suspend their basic principles for the sake of what they believe to be a higher cause. Stated more concretely, can Judge Roberts set aside his socially conservative interests or views for the sake of maintaining the integrity of rule-by-law in our society.
In listening to the hearings, it appears that most people don’t believe that this is possible, that one way or another, intentional or not, people will inevitably serve their own interests. Specific to Judge Roberts, it seems that people suspect he is employing circumlocution to mask an agenda that he intends to employ if his appointment goes through. I realize that beyond what I know, there may be good reason to be suspicious about him, and if this is the case I wouldn’t mind hearing about it (please be reasoned and respectful in your response). Regardless of what his specific case may be, however, my question still stands regarding human nature in general.