Skip to comments.Thomas Sowell: Once in a lifetime
Posted on 12/07/2004 5:28:08 PM PST by RWR8189
Who sits on the Supreme Court for life may be more important than who sits in the White House for four years. With vacancies to fill among federal judges in general and vacancies expected to occur on the aging Supreme Court in particular, the stakes are very high in the judicial appointments made in the next few years. We and our children will be living with the consequences for a long time.
This looks like an opportunity that may come just once in a lifetime to make judicial appointments that will stop the courts' dangerous pattern of continually eroding away the voting public's right to govern themselves through their elected representatives.
Both political parties understand the historic high stakes in these appointments. Senate Democrats have dug in and refused to allow some judicial nominees even to be voted on by the full Senate because these were judges who believe in applying the written law, not imposing judges' personal notions as the law of the land.
With the agenda of the political left increasingly rejected by voters at the polls, the only way to get the items on that agenda enacted into law is to have judges who will decree the liberal agenda from the bench. Too many judges have already done that on everything from gay marriage to racial quotas and the death penalty.
It is not these or other particular issues which are the highest stakes. The highest stakes are democratic self-governance versus judicial fiats that threaten to make a mockery of the American system of government by elected officials.
Some Republican Senators are considering reacting to the Democrats' obstruction of judicial nominees by a change in the Senate rules that would no longer allow a minority of Senators to prevent the majority from voting on these nominees.
Putting in this rule change to stop the filibustering of judicial nominees would be a long overdue show of backbone on the part of the Republican Senators. But George Will's column in the December 8th issue of Newsweek argues that this is a bad idea.
Putting a stop to filibustering judicial nominees could mean sliding down a "slippery slope" toward declaring "the illegitimacy of filibusters generally," according to Will. But, after more than two centuries of American history, it is not at all obvious what benefit this country has ever received from filibusters.
It is all too easy to recall how Southern Democrats for decades blocked attempts to give blacks basic civil rights by filibustering such legislation in the Senate. That was surely not our country's finest hour.
Filibusters, like judicial activism, make a mockery of the voter's right to self-governance. Both are ways for a willful minority to block the majority.
As for slippery slopes, we are already on a very slippery slope toward irreversible laws created by judicial activists. Even judges who respect the Constitution as it was written and legislation as it was passed also respect judicial precedents.
Conservative judges are not inclined to reverse long-standing precedents on which millions of people have relied, even if these judges think the original decision should not have been made the way it was. With activist judges guided only by their own ideology and conservative judges reluctant to overturn precedents, the agenda of the left is easy to enact from the bench and hard to dislodge afterward.
If both the liberal agenda and the whole process of judicial lawlessness that serves it are ever to be stopped, Senate Republicans will have to face the question that Ronald Reagan used to ask: "If not us, who -- and if not now, when?"
George Will warns that someday the Republicans will be in the minority and Democrats can then use the proposed rule change to keep them from blocking legislation they don't like. But judicial nominations are too fundamental an issue, at a time when we stand at a legal crossroads, to worry that a rule change will, in effect, escalate the political arms race.
The alternative to this political arms race is to stay disarmed in the face of a ruthless adversary who recognizes no limits of propriety or even decency, as their treatment of Judge Robert Bork and Judge Clarence Thomas amply demonstrated long ago.
Go nuclear. If the Dems were respecting tradition across the board, that would be one thing. But they aren't, so there is no reason to respect the tradition of the filibuster.
If Republicans are in a position to change the rules in favor of procedures that facilitate a more strict interpretation of the Constitution on the part of judges they should do it NOW. Nothing any party does is irreversible for all time.
Clear thinking as usual from Sowell. BTT.
yes, better we do it now to them, than they do it eventually to us.
We have seen what happened when the Rs had 50 R votes in the Senate, with one S (socialist) and 49 Ds (democrats). Out of courtesy, the Rs put the same number of Ds and Rs on each committee.
After the Jefford Jump, with 49 Rs 49Ds one S one I, the Ds rearranged things to put a majority of Ds on each committee.
No courtesy, then, so why courtesy now?
Do It NOW!
That would also indicate that each 4 yr Presidential term is likely to get slightly more than one SC appointment. So for Presidents that get to make at least 3 SC appointments, the influence of the appointments is greater than their own. Of course one must choose wisely. The 'pubs have blown a few in the not too distant past. If Bush gets to make 4 or 5 appointments in the next 4 years, then indeed, his appointments will likely have more impact then he does.
In other words, this simple constitutional courtesy we have been showing is unlikely to see any reciprocity from the other side when they return to the majority.
IMO, the representative Republic is broken - possibly beyond repair. The Founding Fathers turned control of the government over to lesser people with lesser abilities.
I don't think we can trust the Congress to vote on the significant issues of our day. I think that the voters should vote on the Federal budget to ensure that OUR money is being spent responsibly. I don't think that the Senate is capable of responsibly discharging its obligations to approve Judicial Nominees and, in general, advise and consent. The approval of Judicial nominees should be put to the voters since the Senate is too wrapped up in playing politics.
This, by the way, is the biggest reason to repeal the 17th Amendment and restore a sense of priority for the needs of America. The Senate has lost its sense of purpose and a major shakeup is in order to get them re-focused.
Things seem to be a little better in the House. There are more adults in the House who are more responsive to and in touch with the voters.
But Sowell's point about the SC Justices is right on target. It's just a point that we have known for decades. With the Dems pushed against the wall, they are likely to be even more hardcore than they have in the past. The rhetoric being spewed by Harry Reid is an indication of things to come and I believe that the Dems are going to conduct their own "terrorism" attacks on Republican plans. If things looked bad when tiny tommy was in charge of Senate Dems, he was only a prelude to the types of political warfare that it appears Reid and Pelosi intend to wage.
every citizen had (and has) civil rights under the bill of rights, correct?
The press would love it, the dems might try it maybe once. They would be given enough rope to hang themselves.
The result: filibuster is dead and its demise is not blamed upon the conservatives.
IIRC in that case there would only need to be one Democrat in the chamber filibustering and we would need 51 Republicans there to vote on the measure whenever he let up.
Invoking cloture takes 60 votes, if you don't have them, it doesn't matter how many Democrats are there.
It would recieve wide press exposure, but it would be showing how the heroic Democrats were standing up to the big bad mean Republicans.
Well, at first it would be portrayed that way by the MSM. But as the filibuster went on, the dems would either have to speak the truth about their position or continue their schizophrenic rhetoric--neither of which would withstand public scrutiny.
This "fact" (that their message is not palatable) was demonstrated during the most recent presidential campaign.
The highest stakes are democratic self-governance versus judicial fiats...
The highest stakes are democratic self-governance versus judicial fiats that threaten to make a mockery of the American system of government by elected officials.
MOCKERY is too true! All the Democrats do is mock everyone who disagrees with them.
Thomas Sowell always gets right to the point. Such a clear thinker and level-headed as well. You never see him spouting off insults in his articles to get to the point.
It's called Eloquence.
Keep the filibuster... but it MUST be as it was in the past. One Senator, keeping the floor, speaking until he drops.
Actually, IIRC, the filibusterer can always demand a quorum call... at which the master-at-arms of the Senate must round up a quorum of Senators to listen to him read the Manhattan phone book, so they can't all go home. It makes a delicious picture, doesn't it?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.