The announcement was not unexpected, it had been rumored at least for weeks. And yet when Sandra Day O’Connor announced her resignation from the U.S. Supreme Court last week it still seemed to take many of us by surprise. It has been 11 long years since the last opening occurred on the nation’s highest court, and it was beginning to seem like this latest coterie of individuals would preside over our most intimate and important issues forever. Of course, nothing lasts forever but God Himself, and so this opening for a new appointment to the court was inevitable.
Mrs. O’Connor was the first female to ever be appointed to the court, named by the man who was just recently voted the greatest American in history by a poll conducted by the Discovery Channel and AOL, beloved former President Ronald Reagan. However, it was not just making history that Reagan was after. He had been out front in helping defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, which proved to be the death knell for the activist womens’ movement that had swept across liberal America during the 1970’s.
In defeating the ERA, Reagan had promised to appoint the first woman to the high court if elected in 1980. When he nominated O’Connor, who was obviously pro-abortion in her decisions, the most conservative Senators fell in line and approved her, not wanting to challenge their staunchly conservative leader as he appointed the first woman ever to the court.
Over the years, O’Connor proved that she was neither a “constructionist”, holding strictly to the words and phrases of the constitution in making her decisions, or even an “originalist”, interpreting the constitution based on the meaning intended by the Framers. She frequently fell into the trap that many jurists do when given the ultimate power of a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court, she took to the idea of rewriting the constitution based on her own opinions, rather than on strictly interpreting it’s original intent.
The clues as to how a nominee is going to act in the future as a member of the court are usually available in the history of their past decisions. And in the past, when a conservative, even one as great as President Reagan, has tried to nominate a true constructionist or originalist to the courts, they have frequently caved in to the liberal backlash and withdrawn the nominee or failed to support them strongly enough.
Look at two of Reagan’s nominees as a prime example. Who among us who lived through it can forget the outrage of liberals and their mass media tools as Reagan nominated first Robert Bork, who the liberals defeated, and Clarence Thomas, who was reached the court only after a bloody, ugly, embarrassing confirmation process.
In fact, the history of the past couple of decades is that conservative judges get roasted over the coals when nominated, with scathing attacks by both liberals pols and the liberal press. Meanwhile, when “centrist” or outright liberal judges, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former attorney for the ACLU appointed by President Clinton, are nominated they receive a virtual free pass from those on the Right.
Now, with the resignation of O’Connor, there will be an opening on the court that a Republican president will fill for the first time in over a decade and a half. President George W. Bush was elected by his constituency with a specific eye towards changing the makeup of the high court towards a much more decidedly conservative bent, and the President must not make the mistake that Reagan did in backing himself into a corner with O’Connor or backing down on Bork.
There are a number of qualified conservative candidates out there, but the best of them all is a man born in Bush’s own back yard, J. Michael Luttig, a jurist with the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals in Virginia. A former clerk under Warren Burger, Luttig worked in the Justice Department during Bush’s father’s administration, and was appointed to the appeals court by him.
By any measure, Luttig is a strong conservative, frequently called “mini-Scalia”, referring to his close judicial philosophy with one of the current court’s most publicly originalist members. Also, at just 51 years of age, Luttig would be positioned to make a mark on the courts for decades to come.
For his philosophy alone, Luttig will be put under the microscope and have every facet of both his public and private life scrutinized by the liberals, who will fight this type of nominee to their political deaths. In fact, it is very likely that the Ted Kennedy’s of the world would use a nominee such as Luttig to invoke their newly tested filibustering strategy.
Their strategy would be to dig at any personal weakness of Luttig’s with a public assault led by their most visible leaders, using the powers of their friends in the liberal mass media, and attempt to either have the President rescind the nomination, or have Luttig himself back down. In the end, if this attempt fails, they will resort to the filibuster, forcing Republicans to attempt the “nuclear option” of changing Senate rules to force the nominee through.
It is time for all true conservatives, the people who got President Bush elected in the first place, to stand up and be heard. If it is a bloodbath that the liberals want, it is time that we stand up and give it to them. This is no time for either a weak nominee, a compromise nominee, or even a friendship nominee such as Bush’s pal Alberto Gonzalez.
This is what we got behind Bush for in the first place, the opportunity to begin to turn America back towards it’s center, it’s very foundational roots. To bring back the great constitutional principles upon which our nation was founded. To restore the honorable, moral, and democratic thought process on which our country was built.
This is what the majority wants. What we deserve is J. Michael Luttig on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the liberals be damned.