Opinion | Morgan Liddick: SCOTUS derangement syndrome
On your right
So it’s Kavanaugh. Let the weeping, wailing and rending of garments commence. Never mind the guy seems an equal-opportunity offender: from Nancy Pelosi to the American Family Association, people seem to think he represents THE END OF CIVILZATION AS WE KNOW IT, so we can assume he’s only slightly to the right where the major issues are concerned.
The left is busily trying to make him the unholy spawn of Lucrecia Borgia and Genghis Khan, but that’s expected. If Donald Trump were to have nominated Pope Francis, their howl would have been something like “President nominates totalitarian leader of foreign cult.” Come to think of it, that’s more or less what Senator Feinstein already said when criticizing another of the president’s nominees — and Amy Barrett was just a congregant.
The work began even before the name was announced. Today’s world of universal videography can be hard on those like the protesters recorded carrying stacks of signs protesting “XXX” — a name Planned Parent also used in a tweet about his impending rule of terror. A note to the DNC: if you post an anti-Kavanaugh tweet but paste an image of Thomas Hardiman onto the message, don’t expect to be taken seriously. I know they’re both white men so it’s hard for you to tell them apart, but… not the same guy. Really.
The “all abortion, all the time” criticism? Distilling discussion about potential Supreme Court Justices down to how they might vote on what the Federal government would permit or forbid a woman to do with a child growing inside her is the apotheosis of crazy. In the age of increasing government surveillance and the growing power of the state; the disappearance of fundamental rights including the rights to belief, speech and property; is this really the only vital issue before the court? It appears Kavanaugh’s critics think so.
This illustrates more than the left’s desire to reduce all questions about the Supreme Court to gynecology. It also shows how powerful the court has become in everyday life; something which should give us all pause. The Founders clearly saw the legislative branch as the central engine of the federal government. The president was there to see that the laws made by Congress were faithfully executed, to conduct what foreign policy was necessary and to generally see that the whole business ran relatively smoothly. The judiciary existed to resolve disputes; for the Supreme Court these were mostly foreseen as being among the states or with foreign powers. Then Chief Justice John Marshall invented “judicial review” and the Court’s scope of work began to grow, aided largely by Congress’ inability or unwillingness to make laws to address new challenges posed by growth and modernization. In the past eighty years this tendency on part of both institutions has rapidly metastasized as the federal bureaucracy claimed authority over more and more aspects of life in America.
Adding to the looney stew over a new justice is the Democratic party’s current obsession with respect for precedent: all candidates must utter the shibboleth “Roe v. Wade is established law,” or they shall not pass. This is more than a little amusing. Former Chief Justice Roger B. Taney would have been familiar with this cry, from this quarter: it’s what Democrats said about his “Dredd Scott” decision in the 1850s. Fortunately, a century later the supremes were inured to squeals about respecting previous decisions as they hacked away at the poisonous detritus of “Plessey v. Ferguson.” They understood that not all precedents deserve respect. “Roe v. Wade,” with its mumblings about the Constitution’s “penumbra” and other legal trompes l’oeil, may, or may not, be one of these. It — and the overheated rhetoric around it — is certainly proof of the outsized power the courts have in our lives today, thanks largely to the refusal of the legislative branch to do its job due to its members’ fear of losing their comfortable sinecures should they take unpopular decisions.
Finally there are the words of the judge himself concerning a proper attitude toward the Constitution: “In the views of some, the Constitution is a living document, and the Court must ensure that the Constitution adapts to meet the changing times. For those of us who believe that the judges are confined to interpreting and applying the Constitution and laws as they are written and not as we might wish they were written, we too believe in a Constitution that lives and endures and in statutes that live and endure. But we believe that changes to the Constitution and laws are to be made by the people through the amendment process and, where appropriate, through the legislative process — not by the courts snatching that constitutional or legislative authority for themselves.”
Well said, indeed.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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