Monday, October 31, 2005

Here We Go Again

When my radio turns on in the morning to inform me that it's 6:45, and that I need to get up and get ready for work, I usually turn it off immediately without even looking at the time. This total process takes about 5 seconds, and is sufficient to get my day started. The few words I heard in that 5 seconds today made it abundantly clear that Bush had already chosen a new replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. By all indications, Samuel Alito is exactly the kind of justice that hard-core conservatives have been wanting. This is, of course, not surprising. After the bruising that Bush took over the nomination of Harriet Miers, it was far more likely that Bush would nominate an extreme conservative than a moderate.

I have two comments on this. First, I find it extremely ironic that the Miers nomination was killed by conservatives, and not by Democrats or others who generally find themselves against the president. The reasons given for being against that nomination were because Miers did not have the experience necessary to be on the Supreme Court, and I actually can agree with these reasons. But what really killed the nomination was that Miers could not be trusted by the right wing to vote their way on issues. A common phrase uttered by conservatives was "Where's my Scalia? Where's my Thomas?" as illustrated by this post at confirmthem.com, a post I believe to be fairly representative of many such posts out there. Make no mistake, if the president had nominated a moderate (or, *gasp!* a liberal!) with a long and well-documented judicial record, we'd have seen the exact same phrase from such conservatives. However, the lack of time spent as a judge was a legitimate problem. Ironically, I have little doubt that if confirmed, Miers would have been exactly as conservative on the core issues important to the right wing as they wanted (as the confirmthem.com post indicates). But the right wing couldn't count on that, without a solid Miers voting record to point to. This lack of record is, of course, the likely reason why Bush nominated her. Bush likely hoped to avoid a contentious battle from Democrats by nominating a person that Democrats had little reason to oppose, thereby appeasing his base with a justice that would rule the way they wanted. Bush expected his core to trust him, based on his reliably conservative record thus far. That didn't happen. In reality, the president got the very battle he hoped to avoid, and the Miers nomination failed. To that, all I can say is, if the conservatives want a fight (the confirmthem.com post certainly indicates that they do with such quotes as "what really sticks in my craw is the president’s unwillingness to have a national debate about the proper method of interpreting the Constitution."), they're going to get one. But it won't be pretty.

My second comment relates to my words on Chief Justice Roberts confirmation, where I indicated that there's no such thing as true impartiality. I'm really sick of the mantra "he (or she) won't legislate from the bench." I don't see how anyone can say with a straight face that a judge with a proven record of conservative rulings, who is said to be in a mold of justices with a stated interest in overturning precedent, is anything but an "activist," who would "rule from the bench." To at least some degree, that's what the Supreme Court does! It's what the judges are supposed to do! If the president wants a justice who rules from a conservative judicial philosophy, that's his right, and the justice has a right to be confirmed or voted down on those merits. But the hypocrisy that would suggest that a conservative judge is not an activist is really annoying.

Just. Stop. Saying. That.

In any event, the die is cast once again, and time will tell if I'm proven right in that this battle will be a fierce one.

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