by Mel Griffith
Washington will be focused on the Supreme Court all summer and perhaps longer, what with one justice retiring and another in poor health, though apparently determined not to retire. Choosing new justices may well be the most important task that George Bush does in his eight years in office. The court system has become by far the most powerful of the three branches of government, because it can veto anything the other two branches do. The only public influence on it, and that only indirect, is through the appointment process. Once appointed, Supreme Court justices can, and frequently do, whatever they please. The court started out as the weakest of the three branches of the federal government and generally confined itself to deciding if laws were constitutional. It was not always very powerful at that. When the Supreme Court ruled that President Andrew Jackson could not move the Cherokees in this area to the west he simply moved them anyway. Most would now agree that an injustice was done and the court should have been obeyed in that situation.
Unfortunately, for the last few generations the courts have taken to making up laws on their own whenever they don't like the ones congress passes. Most disturbing to many of us is the court's long-running anti-religion (usually anti-Christian) campaign. Although the constitution says that congress shall make no law about religion, the courts constantly crank out new laws restricting religious activity, based on twisted reasoning.. It is very important that the president nominate justices who will respect religion, not look for ways to oppose it.
While one hopes that the president has chosen wisely, it is only fair to note that Republican presidents have a very poor track record in choosing Supreme Court justices. Democrat presidents seem to be good at picking people for the court who share their attitudes. Republicans seem more often than not to pick traitors to their cause. Earl Warren, probably the worst disaster to ever sit on the court, was appointed by President Eisenhower, who played too much golf to attend to business properly. President Bush's father picked David Suitor, an unknown New Englander, who turned out to be an ultra liberal activist. Indeed, seven of the nine present justices were appointed by Republican presidents. Yet the court comes down on the far left side of most important issues, especially, those involving religion, testimony to the poor judgement used by Republican presidents in past appointments. With a Republican majority in the senate, this appointment should be an opportunity to start correcting the left-wing tilt of the court. Reports indicate that Judge Roberts may be an important step in that direction, but our rights will not be truly safe until some of the ultra-liberals on the court are replaced by more reasonable people.