Too many conservative Republican administrations have put too many liberal judicial activists on the Supreme Court already by trying to avoid confirmation battles and trying to get along with Senate Democrats.
Statements by Republican Senators Specter and Warner after the retirement of Justice O'Connor suggest that, once again, the Republicans' favorite exercise may be running for the hills. All the people who contributed their time and donated their money to get Republicans elected may well be forgotten in the Senate Republicans' desire to get along with the Democrats.
When the shoe is on the other foot and the Democrats control the White House or the Senate, there is no such effort to appease Republicans. The Clinton administration put hard left judicial activists Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court, and the Republicans could like it or lump it.
Some media pundits wonder whether the Democratic Party will destroy itself politically, with shrill and irresponsible outbursts by people like Howard Dean and Senator Dick Durbin alienating moderate voters. But the Republican Party can destroy itself by alienating the very people who voted them into office, only to see the Republicans' nerve fail when it comes to fighting for the things that got them elected.
The media add to the confusion by constantly labeling judges "liberal," "conservative" or "moderate," rather than distinguishing judges who are activists who ad lib versus judges who follow the laws as written, including the Constitution.
That is the distinction that will determine whether this country will live under the rule of law as a self-governing people or whether we will continue to become more and more subject to the fiats of unelected judges. That issue trumps comity, consensus and particular policy issues combined.