It is not just a question of the merits or demerits of particular issues and decisions by the courts. The most fundamental decision is: Who is to decide? Democratic self-rule is what Americans have fought and died for, for more than 200 years.
People who say that the Senate compromise will now enable Congress to get back to the "real" issues seem to think that whether the voters' votes become ever more futile in a judge-ruled world is less important than deciding what kind of goodies the federal government hands out.
In the short run, the Senate compromise on judicial nominees seems to give everybody something. The Republicans will be able to get a vote on three nominees -- Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and William Pryor -- people who represent the view that judges should enforce the laws passed by elected officials.
Fine. But a lot more such judges need to be put on the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, to change the current pervasive judicial activism. Is that likely now?
The net effect of the Senate compromise is that this President and future Presidents will be under pressure to choose nominees who can get through the confirmation process without rocking the boat.
That is how conservative Republican Presidents in the past loaded the Supreme Court with liberal judicial activists from William J. Brennan to David Souter and wobbly Justices like Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy.
Somebody has to stand up for an end to this trend. As Ronald Reagan used to say, "If not us, who? And if not now, when?"
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