Surely Dionne knows this. But for all his seeming concern over the separation of powers, does he understand that an independent, non-political judiciary is indispensable to it? (It is not supposed to be an ideological check on the executive and legislative branches, but a systemic check against constitutional abuses inflicted by those other two branches.)
Or is E.J. just cynical, believing that regardless of what the Constitution provides, the liberal policy agenda justifies any means of attaining it, including ignoring the Constitution, when convenient?
It's hard to take liberals seriously when they declare that President Bush's judicial nominees must be respecters of the Constitution and not conservative ideologues.
How can liberal senators, such as Chuck Schumer, expect to pass the laugh test when decrying the intrusion of political ideology into judicial decisions as they openly defend such a practice when it emanates from their side?
Democrats have long considered the judiciary the third policy-making branch to compensate for their consistent failure to control the other two branches. Only recently have they begun to urge that the president's judicial picks be those who will honor the Constitution. It's not just their insincerity that's offensive, but also their obvious belief that the public is clueless enough to fall for their deception.
If appellate justices were to honor their constitutional role, they would interpret rather than make law, which would inevitably result in the reversal of precedent that has bastardized the Constitution in furtherance of policy ends.
We're not just talking about reversing the abortion decisions, which would not automatically illegalize abortion, by the way, but return the issue to the states. Consitutionalist judges would also honor the Framers' concept of federalism and resist the temptation to impose federal policy on the states in derogation of states' rights on other issues. And they would hopefully restore a sane interpretation of the Commerce Clause, which has been one of the main culprits activist judges have used in expanding federal power to a degree only the anti-Federalists anticipated.
Conservative jurists don't see the judiciary as a policy-making branch, but as a law-interpreting institution that will only influence policy to the extent that it reverses precedent established by activist judges, most of whom -- over the past 50 years -- have been liberals.
If Democrat senators were sincere in their insistence that the president's appointees respect the Constitution, they would enthusiastically confirm all nominees in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.