To understand any political ideology, one must understand what most animates it. For the Left, it is hatred of inequality. As noted in a previous column, the Left hates inequality even more than it hates evil. Or perhaps more accurately, for the Left, inequality is the ultimate evil.
If ever there were a smoking gun as to what animates most leftists, the many expressions of the need for judges to favor "the little guy" in their courtroom constitute that smoking gun. The prime Democratic objection to confirming Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court was that he does not rule in favor of the average Joe in his courtroom.
Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy: "Average Americans have had a hard time getting a fair shake in his [Alito's] courtroom."
Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin: "I find this as a recurring pattern, and it raises the question in my mind whether the average person, the dispossessed person, the poor person who finally has their day in court . . . are going to be subject to the crushing hand of fate when it comes to your decisions."
Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl: "The neutral approach, that of the judge just applying the law, is very often inadequate to ensure social progress . . . "
For those on the Left, law, and everything else, is subservient to equality.
Everyone, whether able to articulate it or not, has a values system. The trick -- often a difficult trick -- is to isolate precisely what those values are. The Left is now, as it has always been, the child of the French Revolution and of Karl Marx. For both, the greatest evil is not injustice, not cruelty, not even murder; it is inequality.
Some years ago in Idaho, I moderated a panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the panelists was a former California Supreme Court justice, a liberal. He noted in his remarks that he saw the primary purpose of a judge as the righting of society's economic and other social inequalities.
In response, I noted that, with all due respect, that is not the purpose of a judge. The purpose of a court proceeding is to render a just verdict; if he wanted to end inequality, the judge had entered the wrong profession. He should have been a politician, a social activist, a clergyman or a radio talk show host. But not a judge.
As is true of most the Left's values, this ideal of favoring the little guy in a courtroom runs directly counter to a basic Judeo-Christian value. Exodus 23:3 expressly prohibits it: "Do not favor the poor man in his grievance."
This idea that one should use virtually all of society's institutions to shape society in its image is a trademark of the Left. Another example is the news media. The primary purpose of news reporters and newspapers is to report the news. However, for most news journalists today, that goal is actually boring. One is supposed to use news columns to advocate social change. That is the reason for liberal news media, just as it is the reason for liberal justices. For liberals, judging and news reporting are vehicles to achieving equality and other goals of "social justice." The New York Times put Abu Ghraib prison abuse stories on its front page for 30 consecutive days not because it merited such attention but to further its anti-war and anti-Bush politics.
Yet another example is education. The Left rejects the notion that the primary purpose of education, whether middle school, high school or college, is simply to educate young people. The purpose is to promote the values the Left believes in, from environmentalism to sex education to multiculturalism and its understanding of tolerance.
That is why Judge Alito is so frightening to the Left. He truly believes that the purpose of a judge and of the Supreme Court is to apply the law in as agenda-free a manner as humanly possible. He knows that the role of the Supreme Court is not to promote socioeconomic equality but to preserve the rule of law.