Thursday, November 17, 2005

Circling the Ring

Like two heavyweights sizing each other up after the bell, both sides released their first ads in the fight over the Alito Confirmation. As the Post article said, none of the ads are intended to deal a knockout blow. Instead, they are intended to assess weaknesses, opportunities, and the responsiveness of the targeted Senators.

Among the targeted Senators are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (RINOs-ME). Both were also targeted during the original battle over the constitutional option earlier this year. At the time, they said that outside groups made no difference to them. With the extremely popular Sen. Snowe facing what looks to be an easy reelection next year, it will be interesting to see whether she decides to be loyal to her Party by nixing the filibuster, if necessary, or decides that keeping her popularity ratings in the seventies is more important than ensuring that the Senate fulfills its constitutional duty to provide advise and consent on judicial nominees.

It currently appears that the left will focus on a variety of civil rights issues, such as Alito's ruling that the strip-search of a ten-year-old girl was permitted by a search warrant and affidavit. Regardless of the substance of the case, this is indicative of a much larger problem that we have in national discussions of the judiciary. The left never mentions the constitutionality of the search, or other, similar issues. They refuse to engage in a legal discussion. Instead, they just say, "Isn't that ruling outrageous?" because of its result. Some on the right have made a similar mistake by criticizing the recent Ninth Circuit ruling that parents do not have a constitutional veto power over their sexually explicit material in the classroom. While the survey was absolutely uncalled for and has no place in elementary school, there is no constitutional right that applies.

Conservatives need to elevate the debate by showing consistency in these matters. Issues not addressed in the Constitution belong in state governments. If the federal government wishes to exercise more power over these matters, then it is up to Congress to pass a constitutional amendment. The federal courts have no authority to usurp such power, either with respect to search and seizure or parental rights. Judge Alito's rulings should all be evaluated in this light, and anyone who attempts to apply a different standard fails to live up to the standards set by the Founding Fathers.

With regard to the potentiality of a filibuster itself in light of the unprincipled G-14 agreement, anyone arguing that this nomination constitutes "extraordinary circumstances" had better have more to go by than the information currently available. Whether Senators should vote in favor of confirmation is an issue entirely distinct from whether the nomination warrants a filibuster. Conservatives have reason to be extremely optimistic about this nomination. By all appearances, Judge Alito would make an ideal Supreme Court Justice. As I have said earlier, I am not yet prepared to say that he should be confirmed because I continue to have questions about how he would deal with the principle of stare decisis. Even so, it is abundantly clear that Judge Alito's resume and intellect are worthy of the high Court.

Senators Collins and Snowe now have a decision to make. It was no surprise that they participated in the joke of an agreement to avoid the filibuster vote. Now, they will have no choice but to take sides. Neither one of them can be considered a "good Republican" by any standard, but failing to support for an up-or-down vote on this nomination would destroy any illusion that they belong in the Party. Hopefully, it will not come to that. If it does, however, expect that even many of those who have spoken about the need for a "big tent" will turn on Snowe and Collins if they side with Kennedy & Co. If there are no consequences for failing to support an up-or-down vote on Alito, then the Republican Party is utterly meaningless.


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