Monday, August 6, 2007

Republican Choices: The Supreme Court & Sarah Palin

I'm going to remain relatively quiet over the next few days (no cheering requested!).

I've been exchanging views with Larry Perrault in Houston (, a man who's a passionate supporter of Mike Huckabee (and is leaning toward supporting Sarah Palin). My comments on his blog may be using up my energy, somewhat dissipated anyway by my being "under the weather."

I've been asking Larry if Mike Huckabee is "tough enough" to wage a winning campaign against Hillary Clinton. Larry is responding with vigorous and informed support of his favorite presidential candidate.

It now appears clear to me (if not to everyone) that the Democratic ticket will be Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson. It will not be an easy ticket to beat, but in many ways -- and a lot of people won't believe this -- it may be the best Democratic ticket the country can hope for. (The easiest ticket to beat would be one with John Edwards at the top, and the second easiest would be one headed by Obama.)

Edwards revealed his essence with the $400 haircut and the 28,000 square-foot house, all the while decrying the prevalence of poverty in America. Obama demonstrated his ignorance about the world by proposing a situation in which he would invade an allied nation -- one armed with nuclear weapons.

I've been writing recently about Republicans being careless, if not clueless, in the people they choose to lead. I've emphasized the GOP's choices for vice-president, although some of the presidential picks -- and I sadly include Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford in this criticism -- were not good ones.

Remember when Bob Dole ran for President in 1996 at age 73? His campaign mainly consisted of cryptic comments about how "The American people know ole Bob Dole. They know where he stands."

If they did know, which I doubt, they didn't like his stands well enough to vote for him.

Aside from Ronald Reagan (who nominated Scalia and named Rehnquist Chief Justice) in most instances and George W. Bush, Republican Presidents have a mixed record in picking Supreme Court justices. Ronald Reagan did appoint the over-rated Sandra Day O'Connor, who apparently thought her constitutional role was to be a "swing vote."

Going back to Gerald Ford, his choice for the Supreme Court was John Paul Stevens. Now 87 -- and showing no signs either of retiring or dying (at least as long as a Republican holds the White House) -- Stevens is one of the most liberal individuals ever to be on the Court. As John Adams famously said of bureaucrats at the dawn of the 19th century: "Few die. NONE retire."

Also, George H. W. Bush, who was wise enough to appoint Clarence Thomas, unforunately nominated the the Court dunce, David Souter. Bush 41 deferred for that choice to advisor John Sununu, who thought a fellow New Hampshirite like Souter would make a fine conservative judge. Obviously, Sununu knew nothing about that nominee other than the individual's state of residence.

Compare the above nominees with Clinton's two choices: Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both of them are fine programmatic liberals, about as interested in the words of the Constitution as they are in those of poets writing in Swahili. In short, Clinton appointed people who were just like Bill . . . and Hillary.

GWB's initial choice of Harriet Miers was curious. It's not so much that Miers lacked qualifications, as that there obviously better legal minds available, including the eventual nominee, Samuel Alito.

Clearly, it's not enough for Republicans to assume their leaders will make good, informed choices. We have to provide them assistance, and that's what many of us are doing with our advocacy of Sarah Heath Palin.

It's important to understand why it's important to have a strict constitutionalist like Sarah Palin in the nation's high offices. Otherwise, we'll end up with justices like Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens, and Souter who think their job is "to do good works," to repair the supposed deficiencies both of the written Consitution. They confuse their role with that of Congress. the states, and the people.

In the often useful and sometime biased "Wikipedia," there's a good discussion (under Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas) of their view of "originalism." What that means it that they believe their rulings should reflect the original intent, so far as it can be determined, of the authors of the Constitution. They don't believe in the claptrap that goes under the name of "the living Constitution," which basically means current justices can rewrite those elements that are not to their liking.

(By the way, Scalia, a devout Roman Catholic, and his wife Maureen have NINE children. They're remarkable individuals in their own right -- one of them a priest in the Roman Church and another a Major in the U.S. Army. Scalia is one of FIVE Roman Catholics, along with Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, on the Court.)

Where the Constitution falls short, and the original version did in a few ways, it falls to the American people and their elected officials to amend it. We don't need to rely on Justice Stevens and others like him to do so, as they did with Roe v. Wade for example.

Evidence suggests that Sarah, when she gets the opportunity someday, will nominate judges in the great tradition of William Rehnquist (not an originalist, but close), Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito. She's talking about what an exciting and humbling experience it is for her to be able to talk directly to people who authored Alaska's state constitution.

The first step in getting her in a position to influence the Court's destiny is to make sure she's on the Republican ticket in November, 2008.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA

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