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Values Voters Want Conservative Courts

By John T. Plecnik

With Election Day come and gone, President George W. Bush and the Republican National Committee have got to be feeling fairly good. Values voters have made Republicans the majority party. Increased margins in the U.S. House and Senate give Republicans a solid majority, albeit vulnerable to filibuster. With U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) ceding his seat to former U.S. Rep. John Thune (R-S.D.), the so-called obstructionist-in-chief will be forced to watch from the sidelines. Poor Daschle. From last summer, I vividly remember seeing him enter the Senate dining room while I ate lunch with U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.). The hapless Daschle was introduced by one of his colleagues as the next “Majority Leader” of the Senate. Such was not to be…

Of course, the real prize from November 2 is “4 more years!” The real question, then, is how shall we spend them? Will Republicans maintain their support among values voters to remain the majority party? One issue may determine their collective success or failure.

Like most legal scholars, ‘The Duke Law Conservative’ remains eminently concerned with the future makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court. Legal scholars, however, have a lot of company in their concern. Values voters want strict constructionists that write their opinions based on the Constitution, not activists that rewrite the Constitution based on their opinions.

I earned a 4.0 in Constitutional Law, but learned only one absolute. Today, the law is what the judges say it is. Judicial appointments color our Constitution, causing such selections to be of utmost importance. Chief Justice William Rehnquist has recently undergone throat surgery following a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. He is likely to step down shortly. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is also nearing retirement. To be frank, most of the court is graying fast. Bush will probably have to fill anywhere from two to four vacancies over his next term.

In this matter, Bush must avoid the sins of his father; conservatives will not accept another David Souter. 51% of America weighed in on the Right side of our nation’s debate, and we expect some results. The Democrats are already drawing a proverbial line in the sand at Supreme Court nominations, characterizing Roe v. Wade as holy writ and threatening to filibuster. Not satisfied with disqualifying nominees who openly disagree with the dubious precedent of Roe v. Wade, the Democrats have taken to blocking any and all conservatives. Tongue in cheek, Daschle and company swore that Miguel Estrada, a respected lawyer, held views that were “outside the mainstream” and permanently forestalled his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. A conservative superstar and American success story, Democrats feared the very real possibility that Estrada might become the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court during a second Bush term.

Let’s face the truth. No matter how qualified or reasonable our conservative jurists are the Democrats will cry Nazi every time. Bush has two simple choices: appease his enemies with activist appointments or repay his base with strict constructionists. Should he choose the former, Bush would earn a week of favorable coverage from the New York Times and enrage millions of Christian conservatives who would likely never vote Republican again. Choose the latter, and a feeble filibuster would stay his hand for a year at the most. I say choose the latter. For that matter, if angering the Left is inevitable, you might as well enjoy it. My recommendation for U.S. Supreme Court: the Honorable Kenneth Starr.

John T. Plecnik is a twenty-year-old law student at Duke University and Executive Editor of The Devil’s Advocate. As Policy Advisor for the Duke Chapter, John authored the first-ever statewide platform for the North Carolina Federation of College Republicans.