A little while ago, I read on another blog the observation that any political group that isn’t explicitly conservative will, eventually, become liberal. I’m not expert enough to rate the veracity of that thought, but I think it just might apply to Supreme Court justices.
I’m no great legal scholar either, but I have noticed that justices that aren’t defined as “conservative” end up drifting farther and farther to the left during their tenure on the court. Seven of the nine current justices were nominated by Republicans, yet only three of them (Scalia, Rehnquist, and Thomas) vote consistently in a “conservative” manner. The other four (Stevens, O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter) were all touted as “moderates” when they were put forth, but have steadily moved farther and farther to the left, to the point where Stevens is the considered the leader of the liberal wing.
I’ve often described myself as a “militant moderate,” and I strongly believe in balance in our political system. I don’t think either side or party should dominate overwhelmingly any part of our government (and every time I look at Massachusetts, the bluest of the blue states, I am reassured how right I am). But appointing moderates to the Supreme Court doesn’t seem to work towards that goal.
And that’s why I reluctantly agree that at least the next couple of appointments to the Supreme Court should be conservative, strict-constructionist people, to try to restore a semblence of balance to the Court. I’m no great fan of a lot of Rehnquist’s, Scalia’s, and Thomas’ opinions, but I believe that they will do far less violence to the Constitution than the others will — and have done. They need reinforcement. Calls for Democrats for “acceptable” moderates is a sucker bet — they know that the odds are that any “centrist” will end up on the left are astonishingly high.
And if changing the non-Constitutional rules regarding fillibusters to exclude judicial nominees is what it takes, so be it. The Constitution explicitly says that the Congress shall make its own rules on how it operates, and they can change those rules as they see fit.