Of course my favorite line from it is, "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." This is a nice summation of my general belief about government and its virtues.
Thus when I saw this quote yesterday from one of our Supreme Court Justices (Justice Scalia):
For Pete's sake, if you can't trust your Supreme Court justice more than that, get a life.
This is in relation to a tired argument that Scalia should have recused himself from a case involving Dick Cheney, with whom he occasionally goes hunting (insert joke here (it isn't hard)). Frankly I never got all that worked up about, nor do I think I could have.
And then I thought, gosh, why should I trust my Supreme Court Justice enough to let him rule on a case involving his friend? I mean, I didn't appoint him to the seat. I didn't vote for the man who did appoint him to the seat. In fact, I didn't vote, nor have I ever voted, for any of the people who voted to confirm him to that seat (I had a chance in 1996 to vote for Bob Dole, but I punched the ticket for Harry Browne that year). He was, in fact, in grade school when my parents were born. He's been in his job for longer than I've been able to drive, and nothing short of the eternal solitude of the grave can remove him from that job.
His lengthy stay in office has brought to him connections to many people, many people of whom I, personally, disapprove in the strongest fashion (the Vice President being one). I certainly would engage in nepotism were I granted the sort of power a seat on the Supreme Court or in the Congress or Senate or the White House would offer me. So would every other person out there. That's why there are ethics committees and such, and that's why judges recuse themselves from cases involving friends, business associates, or companies in which they have a financial interest. Maybe the judges are heartwarming perfect people who really could be entirely disinterested in such circumstances. And maybe tomorrow morning I'll be awakened by the braying of a purple unicorn in my living room.
My entire political philosophy is based on mistrust of government, mistrust of its intentions, mistrust of its abilities, mistrust of its power, and mistrust of the people who run it. If this sounds paranoid to you, then I'll just add you to my list... But seriously, I don't trust government or its agents. I believe most people generally want to do right when they get into government, but I also believe the form of government, and the more crass needs of politics (politics affect government more than government affects politics), generally cause the quality of government and of the intentions of its agents to degrade endlessly from the moment the institution is created. By this time, in other words, my desire to trust government is approaching nil.
So, no, I don't trust my Supreme Court Justice enough to believe he'll be impartial in a case regarding his friend. If he thinks that means I should "get a life," then I would suggest he be a little less condescending to the people who pay his salary and defend his homeland, whether we get to vote for him or not. Snobbery is unattractive in the powerful.