September 15, 2005
Judicial Confirmation Process Has Become A JokeBy Christopher G. Adamo
Regardless of the outcome of John Roberts's confirmation hearings, it is plain that liberal Democrats have succeeded in making the entire process a grotesque caricature of what the Founders originally intended.
As stipulated in the Constitution, the Senate has an 'advise and consent' role in the appointment of Judges. Thus, the talents and wisdom of that body should properly be a worthy check on the President's authority to make appointments.
For most of the country's history, that method worked well. Unfortunately, during the last few decades, Democrats allowed any vestiges of wisdom to be completely supplanted by the rancor of partisan politics.
Increasingly, they seek to warp the process into a means of amassing political power far beyond that which they might have garnered at the ballot box. Unfortunately, rather than holding fast to constitutional principle and calling them to task, Republicans have allowed their underhanded tactics to proliferate.
Worse yet, Republicans regularly 'moderate' their stances on the constitutionality of the continually changing process, actually accommodating each new guideline invoked by the left. The entire 'judicial filibuster' controversy, and its supposed 'resolution,' is only the latest example of such behavior.
So, as Democrats press forward with their agenda of mutating the judicial confirmation process (and thus the very nature of the judiciary itself) Republicans reluctantly follow along, occasionally crying 'foul,' but ultimately complying. The political gymnastics exhibited during Roberts' hearings inarguably prove the point.
Considering how much is at stake, advocates of the Constitution should regard the present situation as wholly unacceptable. John Roberts could quite possibly ascend from his present, relatively modest status to the highest judicial office in the land. Yet few people at either end of the political spectrum have any clue as to just how his presence on the highest seat of the nation's highest court would affect that institution.
Worse yet, it is apparent that the entire goal of his senate testimony is to prevent any solid (and possibly controversial) information from coming to light. His responses, particularly to plainly hostile questions from liberal Senators, have been nothing short of 'slick.'
Indeed, his supporters are thoroughly enjoying the manner in which he is outsmarting his inquisitors. But the real intended purpose of the hearings, which should be to determine if, with his tremendous power, he will faithfully uphold the Constitution, is simply not being met.
Unfortunately, Senators from both sides of the aisle are complicit in this ruse. Were Democrats truly concerned with the integrity of the Constitution, they could surely press him on matters of its interpretation and implementation. However, so perverse has the ideological base of their party become that they have abandoned any pretense of upholding constitutional law, and instead fight only on political and ideological fronts.
By their pattern of 'inquiry,' comprised of rhetorical questions intended to make statements (and with no real objective of gaining information or insight), Democrats hope to derail the Roberts nomination, regardless of his fitness for office. Their primary goal is to hamstring the Bush Administration's possible effort to restore the judiciary to its proper constitutional function.
Furthermore, liberal political strategists are fully aware that much of the President's support comes from so—called 'values voters,' who embrace traditional morality and who know just how significant a force the Supreme Court has become in the eradication of those values.
If Democrats can successfully thwart the appointment of pro—Constitution justices, or if they can convince the President to shy away from even nominating such people, they will have achieved a major tactical victory that may significantly disillusion Conservatives and thus undermine Republican electoral fortunes for years to come.
While Conservative America stands staunchly behind the President with respect to the 'War on Terror,' it is inarguable that he has repeatedly betrayed them on such cornerstones of the conservative agenda as the First Amendment and the expansion of government entitlements. The mere fact that, in the immediate aftermath of Sandra O'Connor's announced retirement, so many prominent conservatives panicked over his possible choices for her replacement proves that ultimately they do not entirely trust him.
Rather than attempting to tap—dance gingerly through the 'gauntlet' laid out by the Democrats, President Bush and the entire GOP establishment in Washington ought to frame the issue of judicial appointments as a war for the integrity of the United States Constitution. And any prospective nominees should unabashedly trumpet their intention to fight and win that war. Let Democrats be seen attacking that.
Correction: I stated that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed prior to David Souter. Actually, Souter had been confirmed first.
Christopher G. Adamo is a regular contributor.