In life, generally, honorable people play by the rules. This is particularly true in the United States Senate, which has historically defined itself by its adherence to its unique rules -- rather than, say, by its representational or proportional nature. And so, as we enter the confirmation process for Elena Kagan as Supreme Court associate justice, most Republican senators have sincerely expressed their intent to apply the traditional rules of confirmation.
Those rules might be summarized as follows: (1) The president is entitled to an appointee who generally shares his views (i.e., a liberal president is entitled to a liberal justice; a conservative president is entitled to a conservative justice). (2) A nominee should be confirmed if he or she is professionally qualified and of generally good character. (3) The only exception to Rule Two is if the nominee's views are provably and dangerously outside the mainstream of respectable thought.
By those rules, most people would probably conclude that Ms. Kagan is entitled to confirmation -- although I and others would argue that her restricted views on freedom of speech would disqualify her under Rule Three above.
But I want to make a different argument in this column: The current rules are obsolete, having come into being at a time when the federal courts had not yet been consciously politicized. Today, liberal presidents attempt to use their appointments with the intent to systematically undermine -- not uphold -- the Constitution. And they do so because their vision of an ever-more-statist America is inconsistent with the Constitution's fundamental purpose: to limit the size and scope of government.
And note, this is not a case of "both sides do it," although it is true that conservative presidents look for nominees who will support original intent, strict construction or other methods of trying to adhere to the Constitution.
But -- and this is paramount -- because liberal justices tend to seek to undermine the clear intent of the Constitution while conservative justices try to hold the line: The result is an inexorable march toward undermining the Constitution, with conservative appointments functioning as mere temporary holding actions.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.