Ideology Matters

Member Group : From the Kitchen Table

Supreme Court Justices have unique job descriptions in the political arena. First, their appointment lasts for their lifetime, without any opportunity for review. Second, the sum total of their duties consists of making decisions. Third, their decisions are, for all practical purposes, final. And fourth, their decisions can override and negate any law at any level that contradicts them.

The nine unelected people who sit on the bench of the US Supreme Court can use their decisions to change the culture of America. And, in fact, they have.

It was those nine people who gave us the Dredd Scott decision that said a human individual was not a "person" because of the color of his skin. It was those nine people who decided that after nearly 200 years, prayer was not to be allowed in our schools. It was those nine people who overrode every state legislature and gave us abortion on demand. It was those nine people who have controlled the definition and application of racial quotas for enro llment, hiring, or promotion.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the particulars of any single decision, the fact remains that the single most important thing a member of the Supreme Court does is Make Decisions.

That is why in the process of nomination two branches of government must agree when deciding who will populate the third branch.

The actual language says that that advice and consent of the Senate is required for a nomination to occur. Consent is a strong word. It means that both "yes" and "no" are equally acceptable outcomes. There is no implication that the Senate owes the President a "yes" just because he has asked for one. The legislative branch is equal in authority to the executive and the judicial, and the language of Constitution in this clause affirms that equality.

There are those who claim that the President has the right to make the appointments he desires, so the Senate’s role should be limited. If that were the intent of the Founders, the language would have said "with the advice of the20Senate". When one gives advice, the receiver may choose to listen, or to ignore, it. Such is not the case here.
The President is not appointing a staff member. He is nominating someone who will serve in a separate, and equally powerful, branch of government. It is necessary and appropriate that the legislative branch have the same opportunity to direct the outcome of such an important decision.

There are those who believe that the Senate should only concern itself with the qualifications of the nominee. The Constitution places no such limit on the Consent power of the Senate. Indeed, in a position where the most important thing the person does is make decisions, it would be delinquent for a Senator NOT to concern himself with, and base his consent upon, the standards the nominee will use in that decision-making.

The applicant today is Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She has stated, and ruled, that all persons are not equal before the law. The final responsibility for her appointment rests with our U.S. Senators. As voters, we cannot control the outcome of her selection. But we can, and should, hold accountable those Senators who did not honor their own oath to uphold the Constitution by giving consent to someone who openly refuses to abide by it.