On April 18, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the nationwide ban on partial birth abortions passed by Congress in 2003. The closely divided decision illustrates the importance of nominating the correct individuals to the Court, and the enduring legacy of a President when the Senate confirms those nominees.
We need a President who can be a commander-in-chief in war; a chief executive in government operations; and a leader dedicated to our conservative values and policies of fiscal restraint. We also need a President to choose judicial nominees who will return the courts to the vision of the Constitution, and a President who can achieve their confirmations.
John McCain's record demonstrates his commitment to judges who apply the Constitution to laws and do not attempt to legislate from the bench. John McCain's actions reveal a leader who understands the politics of results in which we hold to our values, accomplish our objectives, and achieve our goals effectively.
The 24-year consistent pro-life record of John McCain, and his support for a reversal of Roe v. Wade, comports with many conservatives around the country who detest abortion. In the case of the federal courts, he goes beyond his own ideology to that of Constitutional fidelity. He believes judges should interpret laws and not make them. He believes we are a nation of laws and not of men, even if they are judges. He believes an activist judiciary jeopardizes our balance of power, rule of law, and democratic system. When we have activist judges, we see the unconstitutional creation of laws and rights like in Roe v. Wade. When we have judges bound by the Constitution, we see rulings like this one to uphold the ban on partial-birth abortions: a ban passed by our nation's legislature representing the wishes of the American people.
Before persons of intellect, experience, competence, and Constitutional fidelity can make these rulings, the Senate first must confirm them. Picking the best nominee does not guarantee a successful confirmation. So we need a President who will choose his nominees wisely, but also have the ability to see that nominee confirmed in the Senate.
Democrats (and the special interest groups pulling their strings) decided early during George W. Bush's administration they would delay, obstruct, block and ultimately filibuster nominees they opposed on ideological grounds. These actions cost the Democrats dearly in the 2002 and 2004 elections, and in the end, we confirmed many of those they blocked anyway. We owe in part these successes to the efforts of Senator John McCain.
John McCain led a group of 14 Senators and provided an avenue of confirmation for Bush's appeals court nominees and later, Sam Alito and John Roberts. Some conservatives wish the Senate had changed the rules to allow confirmation by simple majority and reject the Democratic filibusters once and for all. I am sympathetic to those views, but that would have crippled comity in the Senate and taken cooperation to an all time low. Our Republican legislative agenda would have been the victim of our efforts to improve the judiciary. John McCain understood this and found a political means to achieve his and President Bush's ideological goals: the confirmation of originalists to the federal bench.
By employing the politics of results, McCain delivered victories: we confirmed our nominees, we continued our Republican agenda in the Senate, and we maintained a political issue for the campaigns. Most importantly, his strategy created a mechanism making it virtually impossible for the Democrats to prevent the confirmation of John Roberts and Sam Alito to the High Court.
Roberts and Alito join with Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia – also nominees supported for confirmation by McCain in the Senate – to form the nucleus of the conservative coalition on the Supreme Court. The Court decisions empowered by this coalition create an enduring legacy to the presidents who nominated these individuals and the Senators who confirmed them. It is an enduring legacy to our conservative movement – from the grassroots to the netroots. Our campaigns and even policies can be fleeting without the proper guardians of the Constitution. But it is the politics of results that make the confirmation of these justices possible.
We can trust John McCain's consistent and unwavering judicial philosophy, and he knows how to get nominees confirmed in the Senate. In thirty years, the enduring judiciary may be more the legacy of a President McCain than his wartime actions, domestic policies, or international agreements.
Six-term Congressman Chip Pickering serves as Mississippi State Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Southern Region for McCain 2008. He was Mississippi co-chairman in 2000 and 2004 for Bush for President.