Those of you who know me know that to me, the most compelling, the most practical, the most obvious reason why George W. Bush must be re-elected is that the Supreme Court is bound to change in the next four years, and one vote either way will directly affect the lives of millions of Americans for years to come. (Exhibit A: Look at the havoc wreaked by Roe v. Wade, and that was over thirty years ago.)
I am a little suprised that no justice retired (or died) during the first years of GWB's term, but I suspect the White House knew it did not have the votes to overcome a filibuster against a nominee that might change the "balance" of the Court ("balance" meaning the current lineup that ensures that although Roe might be whittled away a little, it won't be overturned). But in the next administration, whoever is president, it's very likely that there will be changes. Justice Stevens is 84 years old. Rehnquist is in ailing health and wants to step down. O'Connor would like to retire as well. (If Kerry wins the latter two may hold on to see if he'll be re-elected, but Stevens will retire, I bet. Kerry would simply replace him with a justice who will vote the same way.)
Which brings me to the point of this post. Today the ever-reliable Hugh Hewitt interviewed Kate Michelman, now President of NARLA Pro-Choice America and chair of the Democratic National Committee's Save the Courts campaign. The Save the Courts campaign, you say? What's that? Well, here's a link to the transcript of Hugh's interview with Ms. Michelman. She'll tell you what her DNC post entails. As you'll see, regarding the courts, the Democrats get it. They know what's at stake and they are pretty open about what they intend to accomplish.
What is fascinating to me about this is that the issue goes far beyond abortion rights. What about gay marriage? Here's an excerpt from the interview about that:
HEWITT: You want same sex marriage, and you’ll take federal courts imposing it.
MICHELMAN: You say I want same sex marriage. What I’m saying to you is I want gay and lesbian men and women to be free to exercise their personal rights, and that’s what I want. Whether it’s…however you…whatever the law needs to be to make sure that that happens, I believe it should happen.
HEWITT: And even if a court imposes it…
MICHELMAN: Listen…listen…women…women for over a century have been struggling for equal rights, for the right to control our lives, for reproductive freedom and choice, for equal pay…um…it takes sometimes a long time to achieve freedoms, and I think gay…
HEWITT: But in essence, you’re anti-democratic, small d, because you don’t care how that comes about. Because no legislature has ever passed a law even remotely approaching same sex marriage rights, right?
MICHELMAN: Well, I do…listen…I do…I know that you believe the courts…they’re activists when they grant rights like this, or recognize rights I should say. Courts don’t grant right, they recognize them as constitutional rights. I believe there are some rights, certain rights that are fundamental to human dignity, to autonomy, to full realization of our potential, that have to be recognized by the courts as fundamental and protected.
HEWITT: Even if there’s no democratic action?
MICHELMAN: And that a democratic process is not necessarily the right way to go.
Well, you've got to love her candor: "A democratic process is not necessarily the right way to go." That certainly lays the liberal view on the line, doesn't it?
This issue hits home to me on a personal level. I am active as an adult Boy Scout leader and have been for years. The Scouts have two problems, in the minds of the Left: (1) they have essentially a "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay adult Scout leaders; and (2) they have the Scout Oath, under which each boy weekly states that on his honor, he will do his best to do his duty to God and his country. (It's the God part that upsets our lefty friends.) The Scouts are taking a pounding in the courts on both issues.
The closest call so far came a couple of years back, when the Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that the Scouts had the right to exclude openly gay adults from leadership positions. All it takes is a Kerry victory and the right deaths, illnesses, or retirements on the Court, and the Boy Scouts as we know them will cease to exist. 80% of the Scouts' membership comes from three churches-- the Methodists, the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and the Catholics. Most of those churches will pull their membership if it becomes the Constitutional law of the land that the Boy Scouts cannot exclude openly gay men from serving as leaders. And that will mean the end of Scouting, which, if you know anything about it, is the finest youth leadership program for boys in existence-- all because someone wanted to make an example of them over an issue that has nothing to do with the way Scout troops function from day to day. (I can assure you from personal experience, the issue of sexual preference simply does not even come up among 13 year-old boys who are working on their outdoor skills. It is a non-issue.)
This may seem a small thing, but it is an example of how fundamentally all our lives might change if Kerry becomes president. I do not think I am being a Chicken Little here; this seems eminently logical and quite inevitable to me.
Anyway, read the Michelman interview. It'll raise the hair on the back of your neck. This is why I, for the first time in my life, am donating money to the Republican National Senatorial Committee and directly to the campaign of John Thune, who has an excellent chance of unseating Tom Daschle in South Dakota. Republican control of the Senate is more than a matter of partisan politics; it will hit all where we live, because the Senate is where Supreme Court justices are confirmed. If you have a spare $25, donate it to the RNSC.
I am on a beach vacation and am stuck with a dial-up modem, so I may be posting lightly for a while. (Otherwise I may spend half my vacation waiting for pages to download; like most of us, I am soooo spoiled by broadband.)