While the Sotomayor hearings are going on, I was reminded of a doctrine that is really rather pernicious, and unfortunately has been followed slavishly by Republicans for decades. It goes something like this:
A president should be able to pick whomever he wants for the Court because he won the election. As long as the person is qualified, it doesn’t matter what philosophy that person brings to the Court. The president has the prerogative to choose whom he wants, and we should confirm that person.
I couldn’t disagree more. Is that why the Founders slaved over the principles and wording of the Constitution? Does anyone really believe they thought the president, no matter who that is, should be given a blank check to put whomever he wants on the Court? Whatever happened to checks and balances? People need to do a little rereading of the Federalist Papers. James Madison would be horrified by this stance.
The Senate has a duty to confirm only those who seek to put into practice the original intent of the document. Otherwise, the Constitution is a dead letter. How can any senator justify voting to confirm a nominee whose philosophy will tear the Constitution apart?
Republicans in Congress have caved on this issue time and again. They are doing a fine job questioning Judge Sotomayor, and they are scoring points with respect to her disregard for the rule of law. Yet how many of those currently questioning her will in the end succumb to the false philosophy that the president should be allowed to have whomever he wants? I will be interested in seeing the final tally in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor. How many will put their votes where their questions are?
Upholding the Constitution is the primary responsibility of every government official. The president has no constitutional right to have a subservient Supreme Court, particularly when that Court continually makes decisions that destroy the very document that created it.
We have fallen for silly arguments. We have overturned common sense. And the rule of law suffers.