Well, this may
be the season for the long rumored retirements from the Supreme Court. As
speculation grows, and factions position themselves to go to battle, will
confirmation hearings turn into the Borking of another jurist or two? With
the prospects of another shameful saga, one might imagine that the majority
on such a court could pick the next president! Appointees for life become
entrenched political creatures - who would think it possible? It seems like
the liberals, and those who claim to be progressive, are determined to forestall
anybody remotely tainted with that conservative label. For these groups,
a strict constructionist is anyone who can read the text of a law and rules
on its constitutionality based upon the original document. Far too dangerous
to have such judges elevated to the top court.
If the sentiments expressed by Wade Henderson, executive director of one
such leadership conference is representative, President Bush will be in for
a bloody fight: "If history is any guide, it is quite likely, given the president's
stated preference for justices like Thomas and Scalia, that the next Supreme
Court nominee is likely to be an ideological extremist".
While that may not shock most habitual observers of power politics, the average
American often forgets that the revolutionary extremists of their day created
this nation. The negative connotation that the social collectivist infers
upon traditional and restrained court decisions demonstrates just how counter
their own ideology has evolved from the principles upon which the country
is based. The radicalism of the 1776 Revolution was intended to establish
a country where Liberty was central to the fabric of our society.
The eternal conflict that comes out of the political struggle is natural.
The reliance upon laws to arbitrate that friction versus legislating new
law from the bench, was the original intent. The failure to abide by and
adhere to that role has directly lead to our present social discord and civic
hostility. The Supreme Court was never chartered to supersede or replace
Congress, and the Presidency was never meant to surpass both. But what has
evolved is an interlocking union that insulates the functions of the federal
government, whenever any branch decides that the supreme law of the land
interferes with immediate political objectives.
The hideous civil liberty record of the current attorney general illustrates
this hazard to individual sovereignty. Defying his own Inspector General,
John Ashcroft argues that the most unconstitutional of all recent edicts
does not go far enough. "The Patriot Act gave us the tools we needed to integrate
our law enforcement and intelligence capabilities to win the war on terror,"
Mr. Ashcroft said. "It allowed the Department of Justice to use the same
tools from the criminal process, the same tools on terrorists that we use
to combat mobsters or drug dealers. We use these tools to gather intelligence
and to prevent terrorists from unleashing more death and destruction within
our country. We use these tools to connect the dots. We use these tools to
save innocent lives."
Contrast this attitude of despotism that intellectualizes and tries to vindicate
the indefensible, with a sober assessment of balance and proper purpose.
"To my mind, the purpose of the Patriot Act is to secure our liberties and
not to undermine them . . . I believe the department and Congress must be
vigilant towards short-term gains which ultimately may cause long-term harm
to the spirit of liberty and equality," crisply commented Chairman F. James
Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., "We must maintain a fundamental commitment to ensure
the protection of Americans while defending the beliefs that make us America."
Will the Supreme Court put an end to this maniac experiment and flirtation
with fascism, or will the next round of neo activist appointments to the
court ratify the transformation of America into a police state? A true strict
constructionist would try and judge Ashcroft and put on trial the entire
DoJ for treason. But who is left to prosecute them? Why stop there! Congress
certainly bears infinite disgrace for shredding what little remains of the
Bill of Rights. And what about a Senate that lacked the courage to convict
the last impeached president? Sadly, don’t expect too much from a tribunal
that owes its nomination and confirmation to this cabal of political hacks.
If you still have doubts about those inconvenient restrictions placed upon
government by the Founding Fathers, just follow the lead of the bipartisan
commission that recommends an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would
ensure the continuity of government in the event of a catastrophic terrorist
attack on the capital. Their answer is to allow governors to appoint replacements
in Congress until a special election can be held. The commission included
prominent Republicans, such as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
of Georgia, former House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel of Illinois and
former Wyoming Sen. Alan K. Simpson, as well as prominent Democrats in the
Clinton administration, such as former White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler,
former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala and former Clinton
Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.
Even this crew of displaced libertarians concede that an amendment would
be necessary to change the meaning and process instituted in the constitution.
But short of such an alteration, would the new supreme justices accomplish
the same aim based upon their judicial review? All too often securing the
dominance of the establishment is the dominant role of the court.
While replacements to the Supreme Court will have significant impact on decisions,
the lasting consequences are more likely to perpetuate the further centralization
of executive power than to restore personal liberty. There is nothing patriotic
in destroying the essence of the nation to save and protect the government.
Past history has proven that the law is too important to let whims and political
pressure sway the Supreme Court and change principle, based upon the mood
of the moment. Rally to support those justices that understand that conservatism
requires the preservation of civil liberties, and that the real terror, frequently
comes from those who do the protecting . . .
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