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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Presidents Come and Go, But Judges are Forever

While we don’t get much chance to agree with the writers of the National Review Online, we could not agree more with one major point in Theodore Olson’s recent article, Two for the Price of One. In the article, Olson explains that a president’s longest lasting and most powerful legacy can be in the selection of Supreme Court justices:

A powerful case can be made that the most important and lasting decision a president can make is the selection of a Supreme Court justice. …

First, the Court is nearly evenly divided in a third of its decisions every year. Thus, one or two justices can change the outcome of the most controversial cases. …

Second, the power and reach of the federal judiciary, is vast — virtually limitless. In just the past five years, closely divided decisions have resolved important questions concerning public displays of religious symbols, tuition tax credits, government takings of private property, partial-birth abortion, campaign financing, sentencing in criminal cases, physician-assisted suicide, medicinal marijuana, Internet pornography, affirmative action, punitive damages, judicial elections, redistricting, states’ rights, the death penalty, gay rights, detention of enemy combatants, and the interstate shipment of wine. And that is just a partial list. …

Third, Supreme Court decisions are generally irreversible.

In the end, however, we cannot wholly agree with Olson. He sees the president’s success at stripping Americans of their rights, liberties, and environmental protections as a good thing and goes on to express his support for Rudy Giuliani and judges in the mold of Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Rehnquist and Roberts. We think his record of judicial nominations is one of the worst legacies that President Bush will leave the American people. We can only hope that the Senate will step up and refuse to put any more of his extremist nominees on the federal courts. And that the next president will take his vow to uphold the Constitution seriously.

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