Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 2/19/16
The recent sudden death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia serves as a sharp reminder that presidential elections have long-lasting consequences. If Michael Dukakis had beaten Bush the elder in 1988 and if Al Gore had beaten Bush the younger in 2000, the Supreme Court would be today, by a seven to one margin, firmly in the hands of activist, legislate-from-the-bench-liberals.
That with Scalia gone it’s a four-four tie – with the fourth vote being too often subject to from which side of the bed Anthony Kennedy chooses to arise on a given morning – should greatly concern anyone who calls himself a conservative.
Assuming that Scalia isn’t replaced until after the election, the next president could conceivably appoint as many as four justices. One seat is currently vacant. Three are held by justices who are either past 80 or will be before the end of the next presidential term.
Scalia was the very embodiment of an “originalist.” He believed that the Constitution means today what it meant on the day it was written. He did not believe in a “living document” subject to the whims and passions of the moment.
He did not read into the Constitution provisions that supported his own particular views. In a case that came from Texas, he upheld the burning of the American flag as protected free speech even though, he said, “If it were up to me I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag. But I’m not king.”
The justices the next president appoints may hold any position they desire on gay marriage or abortion or whatever the social topic du jour, so long as they recognize that the Constitution is completely silent on such things – a silence that leaves disposition thereof in the hands of the people through our elected representatives.
Said Scalia, “If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again. You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That’s flexibility.”
When liberals can’t get a majority of Americans to support the social change that they seek – which is most of the time – they look to the courts.
So it was and is with abortion – to choose the issue that never ceases to bedevil us. Whatever your feelings pro or con on this subject, it is inarguable that the right to terminate a pregnancy is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. The passing of laws regarding how and when to recognize and protect human life is properly the role of elected legislators. Creating “rights” out of thin air usurps the legislative process and is thus a form of tyranny.
Originalists such as Antonin Scalia serve as the last line of defense against judicial tyranny – which is why who replaces Scalia matters.
And it tells us loud and clear that who replaces Barack Obama matters even more.