MoonDawg's Den: Cirque du Senate

MoonDawg's Den

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cirque du Senate

In an op-ed column today in The Australian, Eddy Gisonda mocks the "circus" that Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominees have become, such as the hearings we have this week for Bush's latest nominee to the high court, Samuel Alito. Gisonda blames this uniquely American "fiasco" on "cashed-up interest groups". More specifically, she contends that the reason interest groups invest so much energy (and dollars) into the process is because the Supreme Court has supplanted Congress as the primary driver of public policy in this country:

That's why Americans ignore Congress and go straight to court when an issue bugs them. You name your agenda. The right to abort. The right to have gay sex. The right to burn your country's flag. The right to peddle telephone porn. Whatever you want, just turn up at the Supreme Court and see if you can't get five of the nine judges to give it to you. And don't worry if your agenda is as popular with everyday Americans as French cowardice. Once you win your case, neither you, nor the judge you manipulated, can ever be called to account.

The above-described state of affairs has of course metastasized over the last 30 years due to the increasing tendency of the SCOTUS to create laws - rather than interpret them - usurping the role of the U.S. Congress (let alone state and local governments) in shaping the democratic culture.

And while interest groups across the ideological spectrum have contributed to creating this "circus", it is mainly those on the Left who bring the debate to a hyperbolic fever pitch. This is because the Supreme Court is the last power base of the Left, which they will lose if the majority of Justices believe the Constitution is an inviolate legal document rather than a "living", amorphous set of guidelines that can (nay, must) be molded to conform to the social and cultural mores of the moment.

This is why at the first day of hearings yesterday we were treated to the spectacle of Ted "A Bridge Too Far" Kennedy, one of the leading clowns in this circus, uttering outright lies about Alito's record as an appeals judge during his opening statement. Sen. Kennedy and his ilk cannot abide the notion of our laws reflecting the will of the people, rather than reflecting the transient ideology of the Washington elite.

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