(A republish of an old column.)
“What is morally just and right – that’s not my job,” he said.
If a rapist, a murderer, an embezzler, any kind of criminal, had said this, we wouldn’t be surprised. If a corporate CEO said it here in the age of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, I would not be particularly surprised but to hear it from the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court is a tragedy and an abomination.
Every human being and, in particular, every American has a responsibility to do what is right and hold others to moral responsibility. That is even more critical in the field of law where what must be a primary concern is justice.
What is particularly bizarre is that he spoke these words in a speech where he repeatedly praised President Lincoln. He said this:
Like most attorneys of his day, Lincoln didn’t go to law school and learned it by reading and working for other lawyers, Roberts said. He was a generalist who studied many things and was continually learning. He understood human nature and had a strong internal compass that allowed him to excel when he believed he was right.
What did President Lincoln say about morality? This is from the his Second Inauguration.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Let us as Americans, as believers in one religion or another, as believers in any philosophy in which good is considered more important than evil, struggle to make this land a better place. Let us always remember that we have an affirmative duty to fight evil and a responsibility to do what is right and honor justice whether we are the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a simple citizen of a great nation.