Thursday, July 24, 2003

Pryor to the Floor, for Filibuster? I'm going to revisit the issue of the judiciary committee for a moment, because yesterday they approved William Pryor by a party-line vote. I've said before that Democrat attempts to block nearly all of Bush's nominees is a good way for the party to repeat the losses of 2002 (most recently here). But the GOP seems intent on falling on its own sword in trying to beat the Dems on the issue. (The GOP should lighten up and take a page from the Democrats' book: ride the issue. The judicial system isn't falling apart due to vacancies; odds favor Bush having more than 5 more years, and the possibility of much bigger coattails in '04.)

Anyhow, the sword this time was a third party advertisement:

All nine Democrats voted against the Pryor nomination, but not before they assailed a television campaign by a group supporting President Bush's judicial nominees that showed a locked courthouse door with a sign reading, "Catholics need not apply."
Now, this is a great issue for the GOP to push, but it needs to be framed with some subtlety. It is a demonstrable plan of the Democratic Party (and not necessarily anti-Catholic, either, though just as sinister -- more on that below) to redraw the political lines in America so that anyone who holds traditional Catholic beliefs is an extremist. And they've had a stunning amount of success in running it below the national radar. John Kerry has been the most public about it. From his own website:
"Let me just say to you: That is not a litmus test," Kerry told about 85 women who turned out to listen to him over a continental breakfast in Des Moines. "Any president ought to appoint people to the Supreme Court who understand the Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court. In my judgment, it is and has been settled law that women, Americans, have a defined right of privacy and that the government does not make the decision with respect to choice. Individuals do."

In an interview after the speech, Kerry added: "Litmus tests are politically motivated tests; this is a constitutional right. I think people who go to the Supreme Court ought to interpret the Constitution as it is interpreted, and if they have another point of view, then they're not supporting the Constitution, which is what a judge does."

(My emphasis) My god, how does one address such monumentally royal ignorance? First, according to this logic, an observant Catholic could never be on the Supreme Court. So change "no Catholics need apply" to "cafeteria Catholics only." Second, according to Kerry's non-litmus test, as other commentators have observed, he would never have supported any nominee to the high court who might have overturned such "settled law" as Dred Scott or Plessy. (Thus the obvious question: Is John Kerry a Jim Crow segregationist?) Obviously this is posturing of the most hyperventilating sort. More importantly, though, when Dick Durbin and Pat Leahy (both "Catholics" -- when it's convenient) sit on the judiciary committee and mutter and shake their heads at this despicable "no Catholics" issue ad, they are not to be believed for an instant.

This is a difficult issue for me, becuase I do have a dog in the hunt. I think abortion should remain legal, and I don't fully believe that nominees can keep their private beliefs compartmentalized while they interpret the law. On the other hand, I think the philosophical campaign by the Democrats to present mainstream beliefs as disqualification from service on the judiciary is anti-constitutional, anti-democratic, and another bit of evidence that the party is bent on making modern liberalism the de facto state religion, with heretics barred from participation.

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