Judicial nominees who uphold the Constitution as the bedrock of American law should not feel compelled to minimalize their undergirding philosophy.
So, the long-awaited Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Sam Alito’s Supreme Court nomination have finally begun. To nobody’s great surprise, Democrat members of the committee utilized their entire speaking time on the first day of the hearings to pontificate on all matters constitutional.
From their diatribe, we must assume that this great country was founded on the noble principles of Church/state separation, privacy rights for terrorists, same-sex “marriage,” and of course, the unrestricted slaughter of the unborn.
Republicans, in response, strenuously countered by claiming that Sam Alito is not really such a bad guy, and that it cannot be said with certainty that he would indeed pose any threat to those time-honored American institutions for which Democrats so fervently stand. Rather than merely refuting such bilgewater, Alito apparently must refrain from offering any solid information that might validate Democrat fears.
Instead of boldly repudiating the very premises of liberal judicial philosophy, present strategy has determined that Alito’s only means of reaching the high bench is to steadfastly avoid proving himself to be just such a worthy nominee.
Thus far, Alito is displaying his intention to achieve this by running the gauntlet of these hearings without stepping out of the bounds laid out for him by his Republican coaches. This is not to say that he is anything less than a sterling candidate for the nation’s highest court. Clearly, his answers to the Democrat inquisitors frequently stopped them dead in their tracks.
And granted, his successful confirmation appears to be extremely likely. But as a result of the current approach, it is liable to be increasingly difficult for each subsequent nominee to navigate through the confirmation process.
Furthermore, the very question of the true purpose of the confirmation process, so clouded and obscured in the minds of many Americans, will be left unanswered as a result of this, its latest iteration. In a sense, these Senate hearings are themselves becoming somewhat reflective of the decision-making engaged in by the courts in which no constitutional premise is ever directly confronted or clarified.
And, like so many questions that have been left hanging by recent Supreme Court non-decision rulings, the willingness of Senate Republicans to play by Democrat rules will, despite Alito’s confirmation, allow the Democrats to remain in charge of the play book. Eventually, they will close any loopholes in the process to the point that no pro-Constitution jurists need apply.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy to result from the Harriet Miers nomination and withdrawal last fall was that those on the right were largely sidetracked from the most important issue at hand, which is the necessity of justices on the nation’s high courts to unwaveringly uphold the word and intent of the Constitution.
Having legitimate doubts as to Miers’ willingness to steadfastly interpret and uphold constitutional law, conservatives sought to derail the her nomination on the basis of her lack of a worthy academic “pedigree.” Though this tactic was admittedly successful, it too completely dodged the real factors that should determine a nominee’s worthiness.
Other members of the Supreme Court, such as Steven Breyer and Ruth Ginsburg, indeed possess esteemed credentials. And both were confirmed with relative ease, despite unabashedly bringing with them an ideological agenda, codified in a series of liberal “litmus tests.”
Were Sam Alito, rather than dodging Democrat potshots, to relentlessly confront those Democrat “litmus tests” by invoking the Constitutional principles they clearly violate, he could go a long way towards ensuring their eventual extinction in the confirmation process.
Such an approach would not, in any way, violate the premise of announcing a judicial decision ahead of a particular case. Rather, it promises to the Senate, and to America, that unconstitutional laws and principles, if invoked in his court, will be rebuffed as such.
The alternative can plainly be seen in the Alito confirmation circus, both within the Judiciary Committee and in the full Senate. Although Republicans in general, and Alito in particular, have shown themselves to be extremely adept at jumping through the hoops presented to them by the Democrats, standards for Republican nominees will no doubt continually be raised.
Conversely, if not called on the carpet for such antics by Republicans who clearly have the power to do so, deference to liberal philosophies will continue as a requirement for judicial nominees.
It is imperative that the process be overhauled prior to that dark day when such individuals are once again selected by a Democrat president.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, as has written for regional and national magazines. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.