Blogs > Liberty and Power > Notes in the Margin: Ike, Pryor, and Reeves

Feb 22, 2004 5:49 pm


Notes in the Margin: Ike, Pryor, and Reeves



I was listening to a tape of Eisenhower's Farewell Address the other day and found his comments on the military-industrial complex to prescient, as many have. But I was particularly intrigued by the rarely quoted section on American universities:

"the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research....The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present--and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Juan Non-Volokh predicts that William Pryor will be a"splendid judge" because of his ability to"seperate his personal ideological views from his legal obligations." As a resident of Pryor's state who has had a chance to observe him in his capacity as attorney general, I have a somewhat different perspective.

A stronger argument can be made for the view that his actions were politically calculated. A case in point was his highly visible, but rarely mentioned by conservatives, support of the massive (recently defeated) tax increase in Alabama. Did he take this action because of a sincere belief that Alabama needs higher taxes or to keep Governor Riley on his side during the confirmation process. Certainly, the tax increase was not something that a true critic of big government would support but it was (from the standpoint of getting a federal appointment) politically wise.

As to the Moore case, it is certainly true that if Pryor had acted otherwise, his chances of federal judgeship were gone for good. Was his action an example of showing respect for judicial precedent and legal procedure or instead one of political calculation? I suspect that it was a bit of both. In neither case, however, does the term"splendid judge" automatically come to mind.

Ralph Luker calls my attention to the fact that Thomas C. Reeves will now have his own blog at HNN. That's a real catch. Reeves has written fine fine biographies of Joseph McCarthy and John F. Kennedy.


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