As some of you know, I have been researching the previous votes of Senator McCain and evaluating his current positions as he seeks the highest civil office in the United States. One of my primary areas of evaluation is Senator McCain’s position on judicial appointments. Many of my friends are bewildered at Senator McCain’s votes in favor of President Clinton’s nominees Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Here’s the obvious issue – both of these nominees were and are liberal. Both support the killing of children. How could Senator McCain claim to be pro-life and justify these votes?
I was likewise confused and troubled by this. Until I checked with Senator McCain’s staff. Now I understand his reasoning. Let me try to lay it out.
For the past 8 years, conservatives across the land have been up in arms at the way the democrats in the Senate have blocked many of President Bush’s judicial nominees. We have called, we have written, we have protested. Yet the democrats have rarely budged. They continue to hold back many qualified nominees. Often for one reason – the nominees are pro-life.
The democrats and liberals in the Senate have overstepped their constitutional bounds. The Constitution gives the President the right and responsibility to select justices for our nation’s federal courts. The Senate has one responsibility in this process – approve or disapprove the nominees only on their qualifications. The Senate’s only criteria for refusing a nominee is on their ability to perform the task, not their ideology.
Senator McCain, in a speech given last May at Wake Forest University, said this…
I have my own standards of judicial ability, experience, philosophy, and temperament. And Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito meet those standards in every respect. They would serve as the model for my own nominees if that responsibility falls to me. And yet when President Bill Clinton nominated Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg to serve on the high court, I voted for their confirmation, as did all but a few of my fellow Republicans. Why? For the simple reason that the nominees were qualified, and it would have been petty, and partisan, and disingenuous to insist otherwise. Those nominees represented the considered judgment of the president of the United States. And under our Constitution, it is the president’s call to make.
For the record, Senator McCain not only voted for nominees Bork, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito, he actively worked for their approval.
If we want conservatives in the Senate to reject nominees based on ideology, we should not be surprised when the liberals do the same. However, this is a violation of the spirit of the Constitution either way.
Senator McCain has further said that his nominees for judicial office “will be in the cast of Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito and the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. These are jurists of the highest caliber who know the difference between their own minds and the law.”
If we seek a return to a government where the Constitution is held in honor, if we desire a government where the executive, legislative and judicial branches stay within their boundaries, perhaps we should consider voting for a man who has shown that he values constitutional authority.