With President Barack Obama’s decision to nominate a successor for Justice Antonin Scalia, every American should be reminded of the importance of that third branch, too often overlooked in favor of the personality of the presidency and the Kabuki Theater of Congress.
The Constitution stands as one of the most extraordinary legal documents in history, constraining as it does the federal government from infringing on our essential liberties or trampling upon our natural rights. But in the wrong hands, interpreted by those who understand neither the guiding principles on which it was crafted, nor the continued relevance of those principles today, it is in danger of becoming just another scrap of yellowed paper.
This photo taken Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, shows the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to hold the line on the president’s Supreme Court nominee, as duty to his party and his country dictates he must. It is crucial that there be no hearings, no votes, not even a whiff of consideration for a new nominee until after the election.
Never in American history has the ideological balance of the Supreme Court hinged so sharply on an election year nomination fight. To concede to the president now would be to concede the entire judiciary to the progressive left.
The next president, informed by the will of the voters in November, will have the opportunity to choose Scalia’s successor, and will likely be responsible for filling several other vacancies as well throughout the course of his or her term.
The stakes could not be higher.
We all know that Democrats view the Constitution as a living, breathing document that should be continually changed and updated to fit in with contemporary mores. As fickle as the changes in American culture have become, it’s easy to see why this would be a disastrous approach that would quickly lead to the unravelling of our cherished Republic.
Hillary Clinton has said that she thinks Obama would make an excellent Supreme Court justice, a statement that underscores just how badly wrong the court could go under her presidency.
Yet, the Republican field is not without its perils as well.
In August, Donald Trump, exercising the characteristic unseriousness which defines his entire campaign, stated that he would like to appoint his sister to the court. With this in mind, the Republican primary becomes as important as the general election for determining the future of the judiciary.
The selection of a new justice requires steady judgment of character, experience, competence, and, perhaps most importantly, judicial philosophy. We can’t afford to treat such a momentous decision with impulse or flippancy.
Will the next president nominate someone who understands, not only the First and Second Amendments, but also the Fourth, guaranteeing freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, the Fifth, cementing the right to due process, and the 10th, limiting the scope of the federal government only to those powers enumerated in the Constitution itself?
Or will we elect someone who either doesn’t understand these issues, or doesn’t care, seeking only to pack the court with partisans who serve as a rubber stamp to the executive branch’s preferred policies?
The original intent of the Constitution was to limit government, to protect the people from the abuses of power that had been standard practice in England at the time. The Supreme Court was established to ensure that no Congress and that no president could ride roughshod over those limitations and bring tyranny to a nation conceived in liberty. Whether this continues to be the case now depends entirely on you, the American voters.
Adam Brandon is CEO of FreedomWorks, a non-profit organization that mobilizes grassroots activists nationwide. Follow him on Twitter @adam_brandon
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.