Kathryn Lopez

Anyone who follows political and cultural news knows elections matter. John McCain drove this point home earlier this month in a speech about the judiciary.

Speaking at Wake Forest University, the Arizona Republican senator chided judges for blurring the lines between the branches of government; for disrupting the balance our founders wisely drew up in their constitutional blueprint for our republic.

"In the shorthand of constitutional discourse, these abuses by the courts fall under the heading of 'judicial activism,'" McCain said. But, he continued, "real activists seek to make their case democratically -- to win hearts, minds and majorities to their cause. Such people throughout our history have often shown great idealism and done great good. By contrast, activist lawyers and activist judges follow a different method. They want to be spared the inconvenience of campaigns, elections, legislative votes and all of that. They don't seek to win debates on the merits of their argument; they seek to shut down debates by order of the court."

And, as a campaign booster, McCain couldn't have better enemies in this battle against judicial usurpation of American democracy. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has railed against McCain's "radical right-wing judicial philosophy." This should be music to the McCain campaign's ears. In fact, they should play it as a campaign song when meeting with conservatives, many who still need to be convinced they have a stake in supporting his candidacy.

As Dean hammers at McCain, he will be campaigning for a candidate with a radical left-wing judicial philosophy. McCain pointed out in his speech at Wake Forest that neither Sen. Barack Obama nor Sen. Hillary Clinton voted for Chief Justice John Roberts, whom is eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

Obama neither understands the judiciary itself nor the Senate's obligations when it comes to the president's Supreme Court nominees. During the Roberts confirmation hearings, the Illinois senator said that Supreme Court nominees should "share one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works and the depth and breadth of one's empathy." Obama wanted both liberal activists on the Court and the Senate to do the president's choosing for him; he doesn't understand the separation of powers.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.