Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Republican President Nominates Republican for Court...And Some Are Shocked

While I have violated this personal blogging rule in the past, my intent is not to advocate specific political positions here unless I feel that some clear moral imperative flowing from my faith in Christ impels me to do so. I'm a pastor, not a politician.

But as a life-long student of history and political affairs, I do like to make observations on the mechanics of political decisions and debates.

I also feel strongly about the need to be an advocate for fairness in our politics.

All of which brings me to the nomination by President Bush of Judge Samuel Alito for Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. Bush had barely made his statement announcing the nomination when he was met with ideologically-rooted Democratic opposition to Alito. He's being dismissed as a radical, a view which a former Democratic colleague of Alioto's dismissed yesterday in an interview on NPR.

Democrats and Republicans alike should bag ideological litmus tests for confirmation to the Court.

Elections are voters' definitive statement about the direction in which they want to see the country go. The entire country elects presidents with the implicit understanding that they will nominate judges who broadly share their judicial philosophies.

It seems to me then, that the only circumstances under which the Senate can fairly vote against judicial nominees are when a nominee lacks the credentials the Senate deems necessary, when there are legal or ethical questions about the nominee, or when she or he has espoused some intrinsically evil views. (Things like racism or the defense of totalitarianism would come to mind in this latter category.)

I railed against the unfairness with which I felt that some conservatives treated Harriet Miers. I feel equally disgusted with the words of Senators Reid, Schumer, Kennedy, and Boxer regarding Mr. Alito.

The only real litmus test the Senate should have for judges is if they possess the background credentialing necessary to serve on the Court. The constitutional and legal orientation of who presidents nominate is decided, as it should be, long before the nominations are made, every leap year November. If Democrats or Republicans want to decide on the ideology of Supreme Court nominees, they need to win the White House.

4 comments:

Deborah said...

Elections have consequences and ramifications.

At the moment, Democrats need to deal with and accept that...but Republicans have had their fair share of past difficulties accepting with that, as well.

Given the mood of the American public and the upcoming 2006 elections, Republicans should be very careful now with their words and precedent-setting actions. Such could be used against them a year from now.

(Hugh Hewitt was correct in his NYTimes editorial when he bemoaned short-sighted Republican protests against Harriet Miers. Those words will return to haunt Repubs in future judicial nominations.)

Mark Daniels said...

Deborah:
I agree that this is a bipartisan problem and I agree with you that Hugh, who was quoted today on NPR, is right on the money. The party that insists that there should be no ideological litmus test appears hypocritical when it puts the kibosh on the nominee of its own President on ideological grounds.

Thanks, Deborah, for being such a faithful reader and commenter.

God bless you!

Mark

Peter Porcupine said...

Deborah - I have a whole post on my blog WHY I disagree with Hugh Hewitt about this - but if I had to sum it up in one sentance, it would be that the only 'black eye to the conservative cause' is the impressiion created that conservatives are more concerned with piety than intelligence and comptetence. The fact that the conservatives derailed the nomination says a great deal about principle, IMHO.

BTW - I don't think you're any more feminine than I am...

Mark Daniels said...

Peter:
I agree with you that the White House was condescending toward evangelical Christians when it seemed to promote Harriet Miers' faith as a reason to back her nomination. In making that case, they appeared to be buying into the worst and least-informed of those stereotypes of Christians believed by people who are dismissive of Christian faith.

But I do believe that when some conservatives used a litmus test to oppose Miers, they robbed themselves of legitimacy in saying that Democrats, themselves using another litmus test, would be wrong to stand in the way of an up or down vote on the Alito nomination. It will be difficult for the charge of hypocrisy not to stick to them.

But these are just my observations of how this thing is playing out. As always, I could be wrong.

Thanks for dropping by the blog and for leaving your comments.

Your last comment brought a smile...

Blessings in Christ,
Mark