Regular readers will know that Senator John McCain was not my first choice in the race for the presidential nomination. I disagree with some of his policy stances, but understand that the president’s role on policy is constrained to the bully pulpit, and his use (or pocketing) of the veto pen.
Aside from his role as commander in chief, one I am satisfied Sen. McCain will fulfill with the highest regard for the best interests of our nation, the presidential power of appointments, particularly judicial appointments, can not be over emphasized.
The speech given by Sen. McCain at Wake Forest University on Tuesday expressed a clear understanding of the role of the judiciary and the importance of having a president who will nominate men and women that understand that role.
For decades now, some federal judges have taken it upon themselves to pronounce and rule on matters that were never intended to be heard in courts or decided by judges. With a presumption that would have amazed the framers of our Constitution, and legal reasoning that would have mystified them, federal judges today issue rulings and opinions on policy questions that should be decided democratically. Assured of lifetime tenures, these judges show little regard for the authority of the president, the Congress, and the states. They display even less interest in the will of the people. And the only remedy available to any of us is to find, nominate, and confirm better judges.
Quite rightly, the proper role of the judiciary has become one of the defining issues of this presidential election. It will fall to the next president to nominate hundreds of qualified men and women to the federal courts, and the choices we make will reach far into the future.
I believe that potential nominations from Sen. McCain would be quite different than those put forth by either of his opponents.
For both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, it turned out that not even John Roberts was quite good enough for them. Senator Obama in particular likes to talk up his background as a lecturer on law, and also as someone who can work across the aisle to get things done. But when Judge Roberts was nominated, it seemed to bring out more the lecturer in Senator Obama than it did the guy who can get things done. He went right along with the partisan crowd, and was among the 22 senators to vote against this highly qualified nominee. And just where did John Roberts fall short, by the Senator’s measure? Well, a justice of the court, as Senator Obama explained it — and I quote — should share “one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.”
These vague words attempt to justify judicial activism — come to think of it, they sound like an activist judge wrote them. And whatever they mean exactly, somehow Senator Obama’s standards proved too lofty a standard for a nominee who was brilliant, fair-minded, and learned in the law, a nominee of clear rectitude who had proved more than the equal of any lawyer on the Judiciary Committee, and who today is respected by all as the Chief Justice of the United States. Somehow, by Senator Obama’s standard, even Judge Roberts didn’t measure up. And neither did Justice Samuel Alito. Apparently, nobody quite fits the bill except for an elite group of activist judges, lawyers, and law professors who think they know wisdom when they see it — and they see it only in each other.
It is this presidential power that concerns me most about Clinton and Obama, and encourages my support of Sen. McCain. It is a power that can not be over looked, or over emphasized.