Thursday, September 15, 2005

Notebook: Roberts drama, liberal Republicans, feminization, etc.

SCOTUS nomination: The conservative blogosphere is frantically arguing about what kind of justice John Roberts will be. The frustrating truth is, while some people (people close to Roberts, hopefully including the president) probably know his actual judicial philosophy, the rest of us don't - at least not until he starts writing opinions on cases. In the confirmation hearings he was excellent, but didn't give anything away about, say, his view on Roe v. Wade. His statements in support of a "privacy" right - and other seemingly liberal comments - may upset some conservatives, but they're basically meaningless and can be explained away even from a true originalist perspective. Other statements were encouraging, as is a comparison with the Clarence Thomas hearings. Here's a case for optimism about Roberts. Plus, see here and here for a few choice hearing excerpts, and most definitely visit Confirm Them.

Also, read this very funny column on the confirmation hearings from David Brooks.

An event like this, of course, brings to light the whole judicial activism/tyranny issue. tries to define various terms that are thrown around in debate. For instance, "Originalism is a legal philosophy that says the Constitution means the same thing today as it did when it was drafted in the summer of 1787..." In addition, "It also says the Constitution's meaning can only be changed by amendment..."

This is the right definition, but originalism is so obviously correct that it's appalling that this definition would even be admitted by opponents. Six current Supreme Court justices reject this! And amazingly, "judicial restraint" and "judicial activism" are presented as two legitimate, competing ideas, properly defined as follows:

Judicial restraint: "Legal concept that says a judge's role is not to make policy or create legal rights, but to interpret the law as written in the Constitution or passed by Congress or the states. Often used to describe conservative judges, but liberals practice judicial restraint, too."

Judicial activism: "Describes judges who create rights not explicitly stated in the Constitution or overturn laws based on their feeling that a statute is unfair or bad policy. Used often to describe liberal judges, but conservatives practice it, too."

Unbelievable. Kids learn the constitutional role of the judiciary in elementary or middle school (it's not hard to grasp), but "judicial activism" - defined to be blatantly unconstitutional - is presented as one competing side! How pathetic are we?

Contrary to what many say, this isn't a matter of political preferences, which should have no bearing on a judicial decision. Why is it that political liberals are more inclined to judicial activism than political conservatives (though it can happen on both sides)? Because everything about the liberal worldview is more consistent with the kind of postmodern thinking required to reject the notion that a document has a certain meaning. And by doing this, non-originalist judges undermine the whole concept of having government operate within a fixed constitutional framework to ensure things like liberty and justice - because they essentially destroy that framework. They make it "mean" whatever they want it to, and thus we aren't governed by a Constitution but by the whims of a handful of individuals. And this explains how it is that the Supreme Court is destroying America.

Also, liberals may be more inclined to promote an unconstitutional, legislative role for the judiciary because they're dependent upon activist judges for advancing their agenda. Conservatives have no such dependence; in fact, they have political reason to hate judicial activism.

See related columns from Thomas Sowell, Ann Coulter, and this recent post.

Update: With "Constitution Day" being Saturday, Mark Alexander writes a nice piece on our great Constitution - and how we're losing it.

Government spending:
Disturbingly, Tom DeLay recently seemed to approve of irresponsible, wasteful federal spending. This is a rampant problem with Republican politicians and is alienating conservatives; the ACU recently "called on President Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress to take immediate action to rein in federal spending." For some reason, Republicans elected on conservative platforms tend to betray those principles once given the power to spend lots and lots of money.

I guess power does corrupt.

Update: Indeed, liberal economic policies are causing a serious clash within the GOP. And the president - continuing to prove that he and most of our elected Republicans really aren't small government, economic conservatives - laid out a big-government plan for dealing with the effects of Katrina. As Scott Ott wrote in a piece of ScrappleFace satire (though this part really isn't satire):

Many Republicans reacted in shock as all of America heard Mr. Bush promising a series of federal interventions and taxpayer-cash infusions that they said will accelerate the growth of the budget deficit, postpone the administration's commitment to tax cuts and reinforce the "culture of dependency" that conservatives claim to loathe.

Scott also provides the speech that Bush should have given - a must read. Plus,'s roundup of conservative reaction to Bush's speech and all the spending to come:

- Speech Transcript
- John Podhoretz: W's Biggest Gamble
- NewsDay: Congress Should Make Some Sacrifices, Too
- Washington Post: A Conservative War on Poverty?
- C-Log: Bush-Bash Baiting Fails
- Heritage: Principled solutions for rebuilding lives and communities
- Human Events: Socialism on the March
- CAGW: Budget cuts that would offset cost of Katrina relief

Update: Uh oh. Mark Tapscott writes: "Yes, President Bush gave a good speech Thursday night but no amount of inspiring rhetoric can obscure the fact that Hurricane Katrina may well have drowned the Republican Party as a credible vehicle of conservative reform."

This follows his earlier column (which I wrote about here) in which he wrote, "
The rebirth of limited government will remain a conservative pipedream as long as the people in charge of the GOP refuse to sober up."

Update: Paul Jacob on poverty and how to solve it.

Update: This is funny. Also, David Limbaugh defends the president's spending on Katrina: "
...the president is using this as an opportunity to launch market-based ideas, including enterprise zones and private ownership, rather than giveaways with no accountability." And Jack Kemp defends him on all counts.

(At what point does yet another "update" warrant a new post?)

Environmentalism: A new study shows that simply living with climate change is less costly and more beneficial than trying to stop it.

New student resource: As reported here, "Center of the American Experiment today launched the groundbreaking website, which will bring intellectual diversity to Minnesota college campuses by exposing students to conservative free-market ideas that are not always readily available in the classroom."

It appears to have the makings of an excellent, well-researched resource on important issues.

Gender: Dennis Prager writes about the differences between men and woman, and critiques the feminization of society, which rejects these differences. Of course, men and woman have equal intrinsic worth; but liberals want them to be the same.

Prager notes that feminine characteristics are more influential (and masculine more suppressed) the farther left one goes. This one-sidedness is having a terrible impact on society, which is straying from Judeo-Christian values. As always, a very interesting analysis.

Hurricane Katrina: This post has updates with commentary on the Katrina blame game.

The religious conservatives that I know are firmly committed to the First Amendment's guarantee of the "“free exercise"” of religion for all Americans. But discriminating against religious institutions and censoring the name of God in public does not protect that freedom, it infringes upon it.
- Peter Sprigg

[Environmentalism] has become Hollywood's de-facto religion.

"The Day After Tomorrow" is essentially a "Left Behind" movie for environmentalists - that is, a vision of apocalypse supported purely by religious faith.
- Jason Apuzzo

[T]hree not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty: graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager.
- George Will

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