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.