Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Battle for the Supreme Court: Why It Matters

July 21, 2005
President Bush yesterday evening nominated conservative Judge John Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court. Although I don't yet know much about the man, from the reports I've read thus far, he appears to be the kind of nominee that Bush has previously promised: conservative, and a strict interpreter of the law according to the Constitution (i.e, a constructionist). Christians should pray that he indeed is such a man, and if he is, for his speedy confirmation.

Why is the battle over who becomes the next Supreme Court justice so critical? The Supreme Court has gained such power and authority in the nation's affairs that its decisions impact the lives of all Americans far into the future, just as its past decisions are still affecting us up to the present moment.

Coincidentally, the Canadian Supreme Court yesterday signed into law legislation legalizing gay marriage, making Canada the fourth country in the world to make gay marriage legal (Netherlands, Belgium and Spain are the others). Such a decision could happen here too, especially if the balance of the US Supreme Court were to shift leftward. Theoretically and ideally, the decisions of the Supreme Court are not supposed to legislate new laws into being, but rather to interpret the law according to the Constitution, and according to legal precedent. But the current Supreme Court, despite the fact that many of its appointments came from the conservative Reagan and Bush administrations (O'Connor, Kennedy and Souter), has been unpredictable in its rulings. In many cases, it has demonstrated a willingness to set new precedents and to create new laws, inventing so-called "rights" not found in the Constitution.

It is for this reason that conservative Christians have called on President Bush to nominate to the Highest Court strict constructionists, who hopefully will join the more conservative justices (Scalia, Renquist and Thomas) in making rulings that reflect this approach. With the selection of Judge John Roberts Jr., it seems that President Bush has made good on earlier promises to deliver such a nominee. "Republicans believe Roberts is more conservative than O'Connor, the first female justice. They would prefer to have him voting on close cases than O'Connor, who has been the swing vote in several 5-4 decisions"*.

And of course Christians desire that not only will such a Court's decisions be less activist, but also more a reflection of Christian values.

*(this quote taken from a July 21, 2005 Washington Post story by Peter Baker and Charles Babington).

The Deepening Consitutional Crisis (collection of articles related to the Supreme Court)

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