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Jack Cafferty seizing on the seizure.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Posted by Generalissimo.

You usually don’t have to wait very long for the fever swamp to seize upon news and completely overplay their hand. Take the news of the seizure suffered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The scare for the chief apparently wasn’t serious enough for Wonkette’s liking, a sentiment which should be repulsive to all Americans regardless of political ideology, but that’s not the only reaction that’s outrageous and offensive.

Today on CNN’s Situation Room, The Cafferty File, the regular segment that could just as easily be called Let’s See What The Ill-informed, Lefty New York Crank Thinks, Jack Cafferty offered the following as one of his questions of the hour.

Hi, Wolf. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts released from the Maine hospital where he was taken after suffering a seizure yesterday. Good news, doctors say test results show no cause for concern, diagnosed the seizure as benign, with no apparent damage, and no identifiable cause. But it turns out that Roberts suffered a similar seizure in January of 1993. Senator Arlen Specter says that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee knew about that seizure two years ago, but didn’t think it was significant enough to bring up during Roberts’ confirmation hearings. Say what? Arlen Specter and his colleagues don’t think we the public need to know that the man nominated to be chief justice of the United States is prone to seizures. I wonder how many medical degrees there are on the Senate Judiciary Committee? Consider this, Roberts, like other federal judges who have these jobs for life, are not required to divulge any information about their health or medical conditions, none whatsoever. Just this year, FBI files were released that showed when the late chief justice, William Rehnquist checked into a hospital for treatment of back pain and an addiction to a prescription pain killer, he suffered from hallucinations. One doctor said a then-associate justice tried to escape the hospital in his pajamas, and imagined that the CIA was plotting against him. But the public didn’t know a thing about this. These Supreme Court justices arguably have as much or more influence over all of our lives in America than anyone else in this country. So with that in mind, here’s our question. Should Supreme Court justices be required to disclose their medical conditions?

In a word, no.

  1. There is still something resembling a representative government in this country, with a Constitution that says the United States Senate, duly elected by the residents of all fifty states, shall provide advice and consent. If there is a medical condition that would be deemed disqualifying of government service, that’s technically up to the executive branch to discover in the vetting process, and then up to the Senate in the confirmation process.
  2. The example that Cafferty used in his diatribe was that of a medical episode by Chief Roberts well into his term at the Supreme Court, a medical condition that didn’t exist at the time of his confirmation, unless Cafferty is hinting that the Senate should have probed and disclosed publicly any backaches the Chief might have had as a young person, just in case he someday might get progressively worse and develop additional problems. It’s nonsense.
  3. Chief Roberts had one previous seizure, not exactly what one would consider to be a chronic condition. If he had had a concussion as a child, would that raise concerns about his potential fitness on the Court? What if he ate French fries every day when he was at law school? Is his caloric content and dietary regimen now something that should be disclosed, and given as much weight as his intellectual capacity? Considering the frailty of Justice Ginsburg, does Cafferty and the left really want to go here the next time a Democratic president gets to nominate someone for the Court?

Cafferty’s question is of course inappropriate, and deserves to be ridiculed. John Roberts is the Chief Justice because of a lifetime of extraordinary work in and around the federal judiciary, and his near encyclopedic recall of past Court cases impressed even the most harsh critic in the Senate Judiciary Committee. At the end of the confirmation hearing, there was nothing Chuck Schumer had as a reason to scuttle his nomination. There might be some Supreme Court justices that have more credentials than Roberts, but there’s not very many of them.

Once again, it’s nice that The Situation Room has Cafferty on twice an hour, every day, to give voice to the fever swamp of the left, apparently with little or no editorial oversight. I’m still waiting for a conservative to be given the same opportunity on a daily basis to vent unencumbered, without having to share the table with Paul Begala or Donna Brazille to counter every word they say.

I’m also more convinced than ever that the same CNN executives that bring you Jack Cafferty on The Situation Room will bring the same sense of fair play and balance to the GOP YouTube debate next month, and not try to sandbag the Republican candidates with Santa Claus questions…not.

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