Have these people become so arrogant they think they should conduct Senate business as an end in itself: to make the Senate look wonderful, dignified and collegial -- and that "the people" should be denied even indirect access to their hallowed "deliberative" process?
If these pronouncements from Republicans weren't discouraging enough, we're hearing -- predictably -- far worse from Democrats. Notice the talking points emanating from Democrats and their liberal support groups designed to lay the groundwork to thwart the president's constitutional prerogative of selecting O'Connor's replacement.
They are saying the next justice must "embody the fundamental values of freedom, equality and fairness," be "someone who is in the broad constitutional mainstream" and "a consensus candidate, not an ideologue," and that in selecting the nominee, President Bush must employ the "Reagan Standard." Also, since O'Connor is the one retiring, not the more "conservative" (read: originalist) Rehnquist, the replacement must be in the judicial mold of O'Connor.
Every one of these ideas is alarmingly misguided. When liberals talk about "freedom, equality, and fairness," they're talking about a justice who will impose policies consistent with their ideas of freedom, equality and fairness rather than interpret the Constitution. To them, "freedom" means anything but freedom, "equality" means equality of outcomes rather than opportunity, and "fairness" means things like subordinating private property rights of individual citizens to the economic interests of more powerful commercial groups.
When they talk about a "consensus candidate" they mean someone who meets their standards of liberal judicial activism, or at the very least can be relied on not to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's also what they mean by the "Reagan Standard": someone like O'Connor, who will affirm Roe -- as if the avid, pro-life Reagan knew O'Connor would disappoint in that area.
Cutting through the euphemistic rhetoric, Democrat senators want you to believe that judicial appointees must not be constitutional originalists, because they consider any justice who eschews liberal judicial activism -- like Scalia and Thomas -- to be a right-wing extremist. Sadly, all too many Republican senators are not much better.
President Bush should appoint whomever he wants and he mustn't dilute his preference for the Scalia-Thomas model just because he is replacing the non-originalist O'Connor. The president was elected, among other things, on his promise to appoint constitutionalists to the bench. He has a right and duty to do so on every judicial appointment.