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Senate Democrats prepare to block conservative judges

By John T. Plecnik
web posted January 31, 2005

As millions of Americans watched Senate Democrats grill Condoleezza Rice during her confirmation hearings for secretary of state, many asked, "Why fight a forgone conclusion?" We all knew Rice would be confirmed. Colin Powell's heir apparent passed the Senate by a vote of 85 to 13. Notable detractors included former Klansman Robert Byrd, Edward Kennedy, and John Kerry.

Have the Democrats lost their collective mind? Why oppose the inevitable? Simple. This is the preseason for the biggest game in town: selecting the makeup of our next Supreme Court. And make no mistake, the playoffs are swift approaching.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist missed about twenty-five court arguments last November and December while receiving chemotherapy and radiation for thyroid cancer. Though little is known of Rehnquist's condition, his treatment regimen suggests the cancer is potentially life-threatening. Odds are "the Chief" will be the first to go.

As a whole, our Supreme Court is graying fast. The Justices range in age from Clarence Thomas, 56, to John Paul Stevens, 84. Many speculate that Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both in their 70s, are beginning to plan for retirement. Even life tenure has its limits.

As such, President George W. Bush and his immediate successor stand to appoint several Justices. An entire branch of the federal government is up for grabs, and the Democrats know it. It's no secret that Republicans have been on a role since 2000. We hold the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. Republicans are the majority Party and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Although some Democrats hold out hope for Hillary Clinton in 2008, chances are U.S. Sen. John McCain, Gov. Mitt Romney, or even Newt Gingrich would send the carpetbagger crying back to New York. The electoral map is somewhat inhospitable for New England liberals. Of course, anything's possible, but the wiliest Democrats are planning for a long exile from the executive and legislative branches. When your platform represents a minority of Americans, winning elections can be quite the challenge.

However, we all know that Article III judges, like members of the Supreme Court, are not elected officials. They are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the senate. Optimistic Democrats hope to hold Bush from appointing conservatives until the next Clinton presidency. Realists just want a deal. President Bush, the elder, appointed the liberal Justice David Souter. Perhaps the son would select another closet liberal in exchange for a more congenial and cooperative senate?

True conservatives need to recognize the power of today's Supreme Court. Thanks to the doctrine of judicial activism, judges have become the final arbiters of every social issue from "affirmative action" to abortion. Michael Newdow, the atheist who tried to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, continues to file frivolous law suits. The ACLU trolls the nation, searching for historical-religious symbols in public places and whether anyone finds them offensive or not, sues to have them removed.

The current members of our Supreme Court have some restraint and ultra-liberals like Ginsburg are balanced by the conservative Scalia, Thomas, and Rehnquist. Thanks to this balance, our Pledge remains intact. However, imagine nine Ginsburgs. Imagine nine Breyers. Imagine if you will, nine Hillary Clintons sitting on the bench. What kind of a country do you see? Not America!

I sparked considerable debate by recommending former Judge Kenneth Starr as a potential nominee for the Supreme Court. My recommendation was far from serious, but meant to make a point: from the controversial Kenneth Star to an unobjectionable Miguel Estrada, the Democrats will try to block all conservative nominees with equal vitriol and hatred. Liberals see the judiciary as their last, best hope for large-scale social engineering and nothing short of political Armageddon will deter Senate Democrats from filibustering.

However, Republicans have a lock on the presidency and its appointment power for "4 MORE YEARS!" Any political consultants worth their salt will tell you that a four year filibuster is tantamount to political suicide. If Bush is willing to fight, then conservatives can take back the courts.

Is Bush willing? Or, is he planning to cut the Democrats a deal?

John T. Plecnik is a 21-year-old law student at Duke University and a Featured Columnist at The Conservative Voice, Lincoln Tribune, a weekly newspaper in Lincolnton, NC., and various other online and print publications. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting with a Minor in Mythology and graduated summa cum laude, sharing the title of Valedictorian, from Belmont Abbey College. Email your comments to John at john.plecnik@law.duke.edu.


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