Skip to comments.COMMENTARY: An ominous spectre, III
Posted on 11/16/2004 8:10:06 PM PST by Ed Current
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter has often justified his voting for or against judicial nominees on grounds that he supports those nominees whose views are in the "mainstream," as distinguished from those whose views are "extremist."
Now that he is in line to become chairman of that committee in January, because of seniority, the meaning of these two elusive and elastic terms becomes crucial.
Senator Specter voted against the confirmation of Judge Robert Bork and for the confirmation of Judge Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court, even though their voting records on the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia were virtually identical. On a couple of decisions where they differed, Judge Scalia took a more conservative position than Judge Bork did.
Why then was Judge Bork considered to be so conservative as to be "out of the mainstream" while Judge Scalia was not? It had nothing to do with their records.
It had to do with the fact that Antonin Scalia's nomination, which preceded Bork's, created no political firestorm because Scalia was replacing another conservative Justice and so would not have changed the lineup on the Supreme Court.
Robert Bork, on the other hand, would have been replacing a more liberal Justice and therefore would have shifted the balance of power on the High Court. Liberal and left-wing organizations across the country mobilized to prevent that from happening at all costs and launched a massive smear campaign that created a new verb, "to Bork" a nominee.
Those Senators who buckled under these pressures including Senator Arlen Specter could justify voting against Judge Bork on grounds that he was an "extremist." The term is very elastic and politically convenient.
If "mainstream" becomes the litmus test for judicial nominees, then that means continuing the trends of the past half-century toward judges who take policy decisions out of the hands of the voters and their elected representatives, and impose their own notions as the law of the land.
"Mainstream" is not even a fixed position. The more judges get away with overstepping the boundaries between the courts' jurisdictions and the areas reserved by the Constitution for democratically elected officials, the further into those reserved areas judges go.
Within living memory, it would once have been considered unthinkable for a judge to order a state legislature to raise taxes to finance the judge's pet project. But that has now happened.
Issues like gay marriage or abortion may stir up controversy in the media but most of that controversy is about which policy is desirable. The more fundamental question is: Who is to decide?
Those who say that voters, not judges, should decide are not in the "mainstream." They are considered to be "extremists."
The easy way out for any President is to nominate people who can be easily confirmed by the Senate. Even conservative Republican Presidents have put liberal zealots on the Supreme Court or have nominated people who carried the "moderate" or "conservative" label, but who lacked the intellectual depth or the backbone to resist fashionable trends toward judicial activism.
To President Bush's credit, he has tried to stop the steady drift toward arbitrary judicial rule by nominating people like California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown who have a track record of opposing judicial activism.
A President who is trying to make a fundamental change in the federal judiciary and a chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who wants to continue the "mainstream" trends are in a fundamental contradiction, no matter how much each side tries to paper over the difference.
With so many federal court vacancies, and with several Supreme Court vacancies almost certain to occur during the next four years, this may be the last chance in our lifetime to reverse the trend toward government by unelected judges. That is infinitely more important than putting Senator Arlen Specter in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee because of his seniority.
That is infinitely more important than putting Senator Arlen Specter in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee because of his seniority.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.
The senator said that Roe was "inviolate" in his view; that it was settled law, like Brown v. Board; that any nominee who disagreed would face a filibuster; and that he "would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations that I mentioned." Now it is true that Specter did not actually say the exact words, "I warn the president not to nominate anyone who might be against Roe," but his comments were not opaque.
Nobody is saying that Specter should be removed because he supports legal abortion and cloning.
Some of Hewitt's allies in this matter have speculated that dumping Specter as judiciary chairman could cause six Republicans including the fairly conservative Judd Gregg to leave the party and give the Senate to the Democrats. That is a risk. I would place its probability at about one times ten to the negative seventeenth power. Would even one of them switch, and give up his committee chairmanships? I doubt it. That includes Specter, who would after all still be chairman of something.
Specter's record reveals him to be a "RINO" whose views and values were repudiated by voters in the elections.
Specter voted for every one of President Clinton's judicial nominees except one. On the other hand, Specter led the opposition to Judge Robert Bork, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan, and the confirmation hearings were so vicious that "Bork" has become a verb: harassing a judicial nominee is called "Borking" him.
The Chicago Sun Times (11/11/04) says Senator Arlen Specter wants a private meeting with Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee next week in order to "hash things out," according to Texas Senator John Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court judge, who appears to be emerging as a key player in the fight over whether Specter will be awarded the chairmanship of the powerful Judiciary Committee. It is unclear what Senator Cornyns role actually is. He says he wants to find out what Specter intends to do regarding Bush nominees to the federal courts. That sounds a bit like he might vote for him, provided Specter says the right things. Let Senator Cornyn, the other GOP members of the Judiciary Committee, and every Republican Senator (all are members of the Senate Republican Caucus and all will likely have a say in this matter) that Senator Arlen Specter is totally unacceptable for the position of chairman for the following reasons:
Senator Specter "is an avid supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which would subject our military personnel to prosecution for war crimes before hostile international judges, and deny them the protections of our Constitution." In 2002, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed and President Bush signed, the American Servicemembers Protection Act that exempted our military from the threat of the ICC. However, Senator Specter was among the few in the Senate and the only Republican, who voted against this amendment." (Concerned Women for America Press Release, 11/11/04) President Bush opposes the ICC, as do most Americans.
The fact that Specter's eventual margin of victory was so razor-thin made one thing absolutely undeniable. Without the influence and treachery of Bush and Santorum, we would have seen a raging pro-abort who has always been viciously hostile toward anything that the pro-life movement does replaced with a pro-lifer. It is laughable to suggest that the combined efforts of a Republican president and a Republican senator can't influence even 2 percent of the votes in a Republican primary. Given that, it is simply a fact that Bush and Santorum cost the pro-life movement this election.
Bush and Santorum defenders will claim that if Toomey had won he might turn around and lose in the general election and, thereby, turn control of the Senate over to the Democrats.
That's garbage. First, upon what do these people base the assumption that Toomey could somehow beat the senior incumbent United States senator in his state, but then not be able to beat a non-incumbent Democrat? If their claim is that Toomey's advocacy for the right-to-life makes him unelectable in a Pennsylvania general election, how do they explain Santorum's election?
Oh no conservative judges, I forgot.
Geez, this is not looking good.
I fear our President will not muscle Specter from the chairmanship. After all, did he not throw his considerable weight behind Specter over Toomey? It indeed does not look promising. Arlen Specter is no better to lead the Judiciary Committee than placing Tom Harkin on the chair or Ted'the swimmer'Kennedy. hell, Shumer might even be more conservative!
Hey Santorum, wake up
Specter tried to get teresa to run against you!
hell, Shumer might even be more conservative!
Poor Tiny Tim wouldn't have a chance with Specter: The Ghost of Abortions Past, Present & Future.
"I expect him to have the support of the committee," the panel's current chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said after a closed-door meeting of its 10 Republican members.
"Nobody in the meeting was against Arlen," Hatch told reporters, with Specter at his side. "Senator Specter handled himself very well and frankly, I'm for him, as I should be."
Despite picking up the crucial support Tuesday, Specter stopped short of declaring victory.
"No chickens have hatched, and I don't count any chickens until they're hatched," he said. "But with (Sen.) Hatch beside me, I'm a little less unconfident."
Don't forget to include Trent Lott and Orrin Hatch in their support of Arlen "The Dud" Specter in his quest to remain demoncRAT wearing a pubby title. Bork Specter!
Trent Lott and Orrin Hatch
Collectively, they don't have enough calcium in their spines to form a small snail shell.
Orrin Hatchling is the Senator who asserted (godlike) that an embryo wasn't a human unless it was in a human uterus. I wrote to him about the little one who gestated successfully in his mother's liver tissue, and also asked if the alive little ones who will be raised in artificial wombs will be of a new species. He has yet to get back to me on that one, but a person in his office wrote that he accepts mail only from Utah residents. I supposed that precludes all others including the unborn in Utah, so I sent to him a copy of the letter to the editor from the unborn that we used here at FR during the 2000 election battle. Hatch disgusts me ... and he claims to be such a good Mormon!
We should all probably flood the Senators' offices with pictures of aborted babies --but would they even be man enough to look at them?
I can tell you from experience trying it that they have an underling send a scathing retort and never look at a single one. I had a mailing campaign several years ago (during the House Judiciary Impeachement hearings) that utilized a trashcan full of aborted babies at a Canadian abortuary. The FBI called to tell me to stop or else.
Pretty pitiful, isn't it?
Instead the police and FBI will "lawfully" protect the abortion clinics every day while they murder babies.
Please FreepMail me if you want on or off my Pro-Life Ping List.
Does it sound like the world is upside down? Is this where our liberal judges have taken us? We must somehow take back control of our country, and our destiny.
Prayer is the real answer. Without Christians praying (and voting, of course), the country would be in even worse shape than it is.
Eventually it will get very dark...as the Bible says, "Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people." Isiah 60:2
But the Lord will be a light to His people in the midst of the darkness.
I agree with you. Things will only get worse. Yet God is restraining sin in the world. His people petition Him with prayer for the nation and its leaders. Dusky times these, but the end is not yet. May it please Him to give us strength and courage to stand boldly for the poor and weak..
Exactly. Other goals are more important, unfortunately, to Santorum and Bush, than pro-life, other conservative social issues, the Constitution and it's protection and judicial activism.
Sowell's article is right on. I couldn't agree more strongly.
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