She is not to know of strife. She is not to know of circumstance. She is not to know of wealth or poverty, strength or weakness, education or illiteracy, gifted oratory or bumbling foolishness.
Obviously, Mr. President, you know not the role of the judiciary.
Your remarks today showed complete ignorance as to the designated function of two of the three branches of the very government you lead. You say that “justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook,” but it is. That “abstract legal theory,” Mr. President, is the United States Constitution, a document you have in the past derided as being fundamentally flawed. You say that justice is “about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives,” but you’re wrong. Making law is the role of legislators; a judge’s role is to interpret it and nothing more. You would know this, sir, if you had spent more time in the U.S. Senate actually legislating rather than preening and campaigning and planning your next move.
Mr. President, I have absolutely no problem with you personally. You seem to have a decent sense of humor, and by all appearances care deeply for your family. I appreciate that. And, Mr. President, I can also appreciate our political differences as just that — political differences, cultivated by vastly different backgrounds and experiences, all leading up to great divergence in ideology. But, Mr. President, your idea of the role of the judiciary is downright dangerous, and immeasurably ignorant.
On page 79 of your book, The Audacity of Hope (a title, by the way, which seems more and more pertinent with each passing day), you wrote the following:
With conservative republicans making gains in the congressional and presidential elections, many liberals viewed the courts as the only thing standing in the way of a radical effort to roll back civil rights, women’s rights, civil liberties, environmental regulation, church/state separation, and the entire legacy of the New Deal.
From this, Mr. President, it seems extremely obvious–and particularly telling–that you look upon the judicial branch as being on even ground with the legislative branch with regard to enacting legislation that would expand civil rights, women’s rights, environmental regulation, and sweeping economic and social change. Add today’s statement that your ideal Supreme Court Justice would take into account for their decisions whether people “can make a living and care for their families” and whether they “feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation,” and I’d say that my assessment is fair.
And I’d likewise say that your perspective is dead wrong. On the Court, and on the Constitution.
As a student, you studied our founding documents at Harvard Law School. As a professor, you taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago. And, as president of the United States, you will nominate anywhere between one and four Justices–if not more–to the Supreme Court. On all accounts, you should know better.
In 2001, you gave a public radio interview as a state senator and law professor in which you lamented that the Supreme Court “never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society” and that the Court had not facilitated the ability for America to “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.” On the Constitution itself, you remarked that, because it never forced the redistribution of wealth to African Americans, it was a document with a “fundamental flaw” that “reflected the enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day.”
That view, Mr. President, seems to lend itself to your idea that it is the job of the Supreme Court to assume the role of the legislature, essential constraints of the Constitution be damned. Hence your mission to nominate a Justice which considers hopes and dreams and struggles as much, if not more, than the law itself — and that says nothing of your politically correct focus on gender and national origin rather than pure qualification.
Mr. President, you are absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent wrong on the role of the judiciary, and your blindness as to what should be the blindness of justice could very well haunt this nation for generations to come. The role of a Supreme Court Justice, Mr. President, is not to evaluate the matter at hand based upon the feeling in their “hearts.” Decisions and outcomes are to be based upon interpretation of the law and of the Constitution alone — not “empathy,” and surely not the ability to understand and identify with “people’s hopes and struggles,” as you said today. The role of a Supreme Court Justice, Mr. President, is not to make a decision based upon the interests of a single mother, a welfare addict or anyone else for that matter, just as the role of the judiciary is neither to favor the weak against the strong, nor the strong against the weak. When weighing a particular controversy, Mr. President, the role of a Supreme Court Justice is to instead look at the United States Constitution as written by this nation’s founders and interpret that document–preferably in as narrow a fashion as possible–as needed to adjudicate the controversy in question. At most, contemporaneous writings shedding light on the framers’ intentions and aspirations may be persuasive, but certainly not binding. Foreign law should never enter into the equation.
Mr. President, contrary to what you said in 2001, the United States of America does not need to “break free” from the principles put forth by our framers. As far as I can tell, the abandonment of those ideas and ideals is what got us here in the first place. Breaking free from the principles and values of those imperfect men is precisely why we stare a bloated government in the mouth and watch helplessly as our sovereignty and our freedoms erode by the minute.
Every single word, phrase and paragraph in our founding documents are there for a reason, placed there by people who fought, bled and died to make this country the antithesis of the tyrannical rule from which they escaped. This is a nation which, because of its founding principles, is a beacon of hope for those around the world who strive for freedom, opportunity and fairness. And now, Mr. President, a man who laments that the Supreme Court hasn’t simply tossed asunder the principles and aspirations of our founding fathers in the name of “economic justice” and “social engineering” has the opportunity to nominate a Justice to that Court.
That man is you. And as an American, Mr. President, I hope you abandon everything you’ve learned and everything you know, and that you choose wisely. Note the blindfold, Mr. President. Like every word in our founding documents, it’s there for a reason.