It's not suprising that liberals would be hot and bothered about this. They regularly issue ominous warnings about "theocracy" and "Christian Taliban" whenever evangelicals get involved in a political cause (though strangely these fears seem to suddenly abate in the event of Democrat candidates campaigning directly from the pulpits of black churches, a phenomenon which occurs weekly on the campaign trail).
But more suprising to me is the conservative hand-wringing going on about it. I'm not talking about those who have an entirely legitimate theological concern that the church not too closely align itself with a political party. I'm talking about relatively secular conservatives who are going all wobbly because of a few strong statements coming from the right regarding the runaway judiciary.
A few examples.
John Leo says:
The advance rhetoric has been extreme. [Family Research Council president Tony] Perkins's message on the Family Research Council website says, "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms." Must we talk this way? I agree with the sentiment about the American Civil Liberties Union. It has degenerated into a pressure group of the left that specializes in stripping the public square of every vestige of religion, from the removal of a tiny mission cross in the seal of the County of Los Angeles to attacks on Christmas trees near city halls. But I don't understand what it means to work "under the veil of the judiciary" or how the excesses of the ACLU are involved in the issue at hand-the Democrats' determination not to let the Senate vote on some judges.Uh, yes, John, we must talk this way.
What Leo (and some fellow conservatives) amazingly still fail to understand is that the judiciary is the Left's arm for implementing its agenda. Liberals are content to let conservatives pass laws, win elections, lobby, cajole, and whatever else, but they will under no circumstances allow them to reclaim the court's role of applying the text of the Constitution. They know their hold on the judiciary renders all those other things moot.
The entire reason the filibusters are occuring is because the Democrats will spare no effort in keeping conservative, textualist judges off the bench. A judge who reads the Constitution and finds no "emanations and penumbras" that would make abortion or homosexual sodomy constitutional rights endangers the Left's entire agenda--an agenda they've successfully imposed on America against the will of the people through the judiciary. The ACLU has been the engine of most of that, and all of it has tilted decidedly in one direction.
And we must also keep in mind that all anyone is asking for here is that these judges simply be voted on by the Senate--something every other judicial nominee in history who passed through committee has received. Liberals are still welcome to work to defeat these judges. But if you keep up with folks like NARAL, you'll soon realize that the judiciary is the hill on which they are willing to die, because it is the source of all their power.
Meanwhile, Charles Krauthammer decries the "flailing, sometimes delirious attacks" on the judiciary in the wake of the Terri Schiavo case, saying:
Let us have a bit of sanity here. One of the glories of American democracy is the independence of the judiciary. The deference and reverence it enjoys are priceless assets.Well, no, they're not "priceless assets." That's nothing more than a flowery way of renaming the problem: that the judiciary has no significant check or balance on its power. There's no question that the judiciary should be "independent" (if by that we mean "independent" in the same way the executive or legislative branches are independent). It's another thing altogether to say it should be unaccountable, which is the present situation.
Even worse was a Washington meeting of over-the-top activists led by Phyllis Schlafly that issued a manifesto for the restoration of God to our constitutional system.There's that conference again. Never has more been made out of less (with the possible exception of the career of Paula Abdul) in American history. Incidently, Schlafly had nothing to do with "leading" the conference, but I suspect Krauthammer is simply relying on things he's seen fifth hand in the media anyway.
Krauthammer's column does at least show that he has a crystal-clear grasp of the problem. He says:
Have that independence and supremacy been abused? Grossly. What other advanced democracy would radically legalize abortion by judicial decree rather than by democratic will expressed through legislatures or referendums? What sane democracy allows four unelected robed eminences in Massachusetts to revolutionize the very definition of marriage, the most ancient institution in society?I couldn't agree more. And that's what makes his conclusion so confusing to me:
This is not just deeply undemocratic. It is politically crazy. Democracies work as stable social entities because when people are allowed to settle issues themselves by debate and ballot, they are infinitely more likely to accept the results when they lose. To deny them that participation is to risk instability and threaten social peace.
...[T]he answer is not to assault the separation of powers. Certainly not to empower Congress to regulate judicial decision-making by retroactively removing lifetime appointees. The non-deranged way to correct the problem is to appoint a new generation of judges committed to judicial modesty.Great. But isn't that what this whole filibuster issue is about to begin with? If we could get those judges confirmed, that'd be great. But the same group that has so successfully implemented its will through activist courts is using every means available to block "judicially modest" judges from the bench! And weak-kneed Republicans have chosen, at least up to this point, to do nothing.
If the "overheated" rhetoric of Tom DeLay and John Cornyn help to push the confirmation process along, it will have served its purpose. When everyone was playing nice, nothing was getting done.