The decision by President Bush early Labor Day morning to elevate Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts to the role of Chief Justice, following the death of William Rhenquist over the weekend, was a smart decision by Mr. Bush. By nominating Judge Roberts for Chief, Mr. Bush makes it possible for the Court to begin its term next month with a Chief Justice in office.
Judge Roberts is infinitely qualified, and was expected to be easily confirmed as an Associate Justice. His nomination as Chief Justice ought not to be any more controversial. However, for reasons unrelated to his qualifications, certain Congressional Democrats will contest Judge Roberts’ nominations in both instances.
What Judge Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee indicates he understands the role of judges in general, and Supreme Court Justices in particular. “Judges must be constantly aware that their role, while important, is limited,” he wrote in his official questionnaire. “They do not have a commission to solve society’s problems, as they see them, but simply to decide cases before them according to the rule of law.”
Thomas Jefferson, and the other Founding Fathers, would certainly agree with that view. Mr. Jefferson wrote: “Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.”
Notable organizations and individuals also recognize Judge Roberts’ eminent qualifications. The American Bar Association called him “well qualified” to sit on the Supreme Court. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese calls him “a judge of unquestionable integrity and proven fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law.” Democrat Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said he is “a credible nominee” who does not have “a record that in any sense could be described as extremist.”
The structure of our government is ingeniously simple. There are three branches, each with its own distinct and separate responsibilities. The Legislative Branch makes laws. The Executive executes them. The Judiciary settles questions of law.
Many people do not understand the role of the Supreme Court. The Court has the duty to evaluate the constitutionality of the laws passed by the Congress and by the legislative bodies of the 50 states. When a law strays beyond the bounds of the Constitution, it is the Court’s duty to declare that law invalid. Some people, usually legislators, mischaracterize this wholly proper function as “judicial activism,” implying that overturning unconstitutional legislative acts is somehow improper. But such persons are either poorly informed, or are playing fast and loose with the truth. “Judicial activism” occurs when judges use their positions not to evaluate the constitutionality of laws, but to impose policy on the people through judicial rulings that are based on their own personal feelings, and other similarly inappropriate criteria. Policy making is not the proper role of the courts, and Judge Roberts understands that.The Left has been unable to convince a majority of the American people to support its agenda. It therefore cannot enact its unpopular agenda by legislative means, as the U.S. Constitution provides. Only through the activism of the federal judiciary can the Left have its policies implemented. Judge John Roberts seems to thoroughly understand the proper role of judges and justices. He supports the rule of law, and gives every indication that he will discharge the duties of a Supreme Court Justice appropriately. That’s all that’s relevant, and that’s all anyone needs to know about him.
Technorati Tags: Politics, Supreme Court, John Roberts