I have been amused over the weekend by the “sky is falling” rhetoric of the Right about the impending retirement of David Souter from the Supreme Court. Curiously, Jay, many of your colleagues concede that they don’t like Souter’s record, but all note, as you do, that somebody worse is about to take his seat. Some echo your post sentiment that this will “set the stage for President Obama to put his liberal stamp on the federal judiciary in a big way”.
Please. What did you folks expect? Barack Obama won the election of 2008. According to the Right, it was elections that gave former President George W. Bush the “right” to put on the courts anybody he wanted. Did the rules change sometime when I was sleeping?
Let me be clear. Justice Souter had a very fine record on
pivotal constitutional issues, including the separation of church and
state. I would expect any Obama nominee to be as good, or better. It
would be terrific to see a nominee (and then an appointee) who
understands that the Constitution itself is designed to reflect core
values like “justice,” “equal treatment,” “religious liberty” and
“human dignity.” I’d be absolutely delighted to see a person whose
“heart”–and mind–rest upon those principles. I would like to see a
nominee whose experience reflects the real world existence of
Americans, instead of simply being lost in the ethereal worlds of
academia or the judiciary. Some judges never lose sight of reality;
others do so easily.
My fervent hope is that nobody in the Senate or the White House
staff convinces President Obama to do excessive “outreach” to the Right
about this matter. If you are on a ladder picking apples and you reach
too far for that one piece of fruit (or that one extra Senate vote),
you can come crashing down in the orchard.
By the way, Rich Mullins’ song is exactly the kind of musical exposition that has no place at a public high school graduation.
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