The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Center Court

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has a profound impact on the long-term direction of our country. Unlike virtually any other governmental institution, SCOTUS represents a continuum of opinion and direction that touches every aspect of our society.

It’s reasonable to be concerned about the court’s political center of gravity. Too far to the Right and we face a repressive future in which necessary adaptations to a modern world are subjugated to a “strict constructionist” view of the Constitution. Too far to the Left and we face a chaotic future in which basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech, might be subjugated to ideas like “hate speech” in which legitimate criticism of one or another group is no longer allowed.

It seems, not surprisingly, that a centrist court serves the nation and our constitution well.

Many in the Center worry that John McCain will populate SCOTUS with right-wing judges of the "strict constructionist" bent. Although McCain’s history is clearly not radical Right, let’s assume for a moment that he does nominate a very conservative SCOTUS nominee.

That nominee would be dead on arrival.

How can I be so sure? There is little doubt that the Democrats will increase their Congressional majority in both the House and the Senate in November. In fact, it’s possible that it might become a veto-proof majority. There is absolutely no way that the Congress would approve a right-wing nominee, and a seasoned politician like McCain understands that. He would nominate from the center, if only because it's the pragmatic thing to do.

Therefore, the SCOTUS argument against McCain is vacuous.

On the other end of the political spectrum, I believe there is cause for concern. There is little doubt that Barack Obama would nominate Left-leaning SCOTUS nominees, and it’s equally likely that the Congress would approve them. It’s possible that the SCOTUS will list to the Left and that is as dangerous as a list to the Right.