I think hyperbole is responsible for all of the world’s problems. Still, this time nobody’s exaggerating. What happens on Nov. 6 really is of critical importance. America’s future really does hang in the balance.
We’re in uncharted territories. We’re lost. We stand dazed at cliff’s edge – legs wobbling – with big government winds at our back. Under President Obama, the reasons for this election’s unparalleled significance are piling up like pink slips in the private sector, like credit rating downgrades, like zeros on the national debt.
Yet, as I see it, there are nine black-robed reasons in particular that reign supreme.
And those reasons never get a pink slip.
In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton wrote: “The judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution. … [T]he judiciary is, beyond comparison, the weakest of the three departments of power … [and] the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter.”
I know. Settle down.
Alas, Alexander Hamilton was obviously no better with a crystal ball than he was with a dueling pistol. For better or for worse (hint: for worse), today’s judiciary – through the constitutionally erosive drip-drop of judicial attrition and congressional submission – has, instead, become the most powerful branch of government.
Today, rather than the properly balanced, decentralized constitutional republic our founders envisaged, we live, to a large degree, under a very much centralized judiciocracy. (That is, when President Obama’s not circumventing the Constitution via executive fiat.)
William Howard Taft, who served as both our 27th president and our 10th Supreme Court chief justice, had unique insight into the dichotomy between the framers’ intent, and today’s reality. He summed it up well: “Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.”
Indeed, due to the creeping misalignment of separation of powers, the function of appointing Supreme Court justices is almost certainly the most significant thing any president can do. Though it defies the High Court’s original construct, these nine unelected, well-meaning, yet very human, individuals profoundly steer law, public policy and our larger culture in perpetuity.
So much for the balance of powers.
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