Ever since President Bush nominated Charles Manson, Linda Tripp
and Jerry Falwell to federal appellate court seats ... well, let's try
again. I mean Charles Pickering, Priscilla Owen and Jeffrey Sutton, not to
mention Miguel Estrada, Carolyn Kuhl and Terrence Boyle. Reading and
listening to the news can confuse you as to the identity of America's public
enemies. The Taliban? Pikers in some respects, measured against the Bush
nominees (by the left, naturally).
There's Priscilla Owen, whose nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals has the National Organization for Women, People for the
American Way, and the Senate Democrats (to the extent you can tell them
apart) lifting hands this week in righteous horror. "Ultra-conservative
ideologue" and "antiabortion zealot" are among the epithets hurled at the
lady's head. NOW's web site fetchingly lists the Bush judicial nominees
under the heading "Unjust Justices."
The nomination (defeated) of Judge Charles W. Pickering Jr. of
Mississippi to the 5th Circuit was seen by one "civil rights" leader as
opening "a gateway of horrors." The judge's record, on no evidence to speak
of, was read as embodying "hostility to civil and constitutional rights."
Much of the criticism levied by the various special interests is
cheesy in the extreme, though clearly it is designed to be received with
solemn shakings of the noggin. Judge Deborah L. Cook, we learn, was once
endorsed "by the Ohio Right to Life." Judge Terrence Boyle is a "former aide
to Sen. Jesse Helms."
Judge Miguel Estrada is a "strong supporter of capital
punishment." Oh! Horrors! Why even give these jerks a hearing? Why not just
deport one and all to some land where they would find infinite happiness --
The Senate's Democratic majority (thank you so much, Sen.
Jeffords) may gun down several of the Bush nominees. Not many, we should
hope. Not any, we should wish.
However they turn out at the end, the mugging of Pickering and
the present onslaught against Owen have made plain two things:
1. How dishonest confirmation proceedings have become since the
Senate deprived us of Judge Robert Bork's services, and
2. How much the federal courts have come to count in terms of
enacting or blocking political programs.
Judge Owen's assailants have the nerve to roll the two
considerations into one: They make out as if they had caught her honor
"legislating" against abortion from the bench, when, as they see it, federal
judges are bound to defend the piece of judicial legislation that brought us
"reproductive choice" in the first place.
Prior to Roe vs. Wade, handed down in January 1973, no right to
abortion existed. The Constitution failed to provide one. That didn't bother
seven justices determined to give the feminist plaintiffs in the case what
they wanted. An intensive search for hidden, or "evolved," meanings turned
up "privacy" as the indicated rationale. Out went the right of the people,
speaking through state legislatures, to protect unborn life.
Of all parties to accuse a jurist of legislating on abortion --
the pouty prophets of NOW!
(Owen's imputed offense: over-strict interpretation of a state
statute making it harder for under-18s to abort without parental consent.)
Intellectual consistency is just one casualty in the ongoing war
waged by liberal special interest groups against conservative judicial
nominees of the Owen stamp. Such ferocity and malice as the special
interests display weren't always common in Washington. It's going to be
their way or the highway for senators too simple-minded to bow low when NOW
and People for the American Way throw a commanding glance in their
direction. Check NOW's web site if you doubt it.
The stock market clearly isn't our only national concern. There
is great cynicism and meanness among us -- a lust for political destruction,
whatever the cost. Let us hope the Honorable Priscilla Owen beats the rap,
not least because she is up there representing, against great odds, the
un-cynical, the un-mean, the hopeful.