He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
Last week witnessed a rather interesting, if somewhat shameful performance by the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary. Having come to the conclusion that the "Advice and Consent" really means, whatever the minority in the Senate wants if that minority happens to call itself "Democrat", they showed the country the final truth about themselves. I used scare quotes around "Democrat" because in truth they are democrats in name only.
Somewhat like the Democratic Republic of North Korea, they have no intention of letting the mere voters decide how this country is run. The "Democrats" are afraid of the voters:
All of which suggests that this careful judge, whom the Democrats accuse of being "out of the mainstream of America," would be inclined to defer to the elected branches, which actually measure where that "mainstream" flows. And that, as best as we can figure, is of what Senator Schumer and his colleagues are afraid.
Since 1994, successive elections have shown that the mainstream is shifting away from their far-left liberalism and toward a moderation that leaves partisans on both sides unhappy. On abortion, a signature liberal issue, voters have elected a Congress that supported a ban on partial-birth abortion but not other types, and eventually elected a president who signed such a ban. They have re-elected a Republican president who takes an assertive view of his powers in war, but a Congress in which members of the president's own party have on occasion declined to ratify all of those powers. Judge Alito appears willing to allow the elected branches the latitude to make those compromises.
For the Democrats, the courts have become the last venue in which they can advance an agenda despite the voters. Democrats have not controlled the House since 1995. They have not been able to keep control of the Senate through an election in the same span. Their presidential candidates have failed to win support from more than half the popular vote for two cycles in a row now. The Supreme Court is all they have left, and now a president is exercising his constitutional powers to appoint a justice who happens to think that the will of the voters matters. That is what the Democrats are afraid of as Judge Alito's confirmation heads toward the floor.
I want to correct one small mistake in the quote. No "Democrat" Presidential candidate has won a majority of the vote since 1976. Clinton won 43% of the 1992 vote and 48% in 1996. And Clinton only won in 1996 because the Republicans didn't try very hard. He would have probably even lost then had he not signed Welfare Reform over the objections of his party. The Democrats have, on a whole host of issues, moved far from mainstream America.
Some issues, like the aforementioned welfare reform and gun control, they have been content to put on the back burner and hope that the voters forget what their real positions on them are, but one issue stands at the core of the "Democrat" party, and on that issue, more than any other, they really don't trust the voter. Last week's circus was really over one thing, and one thing only: abortion. Not just abortion, mind you, but late-term post viability abortion. In 2003 congress enacted a ban on most late-term abortions. This is currently working its way through the Court system. In STENBERG, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEBRASKA, et al. v. CARHART the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional "right" to late term abortions in a 5-4 decision. If (when) Alito is confirmed it seems likely that this new law will be upheld.
And for this, more than any other reason (there are other reasons, such as the rights of terrorists, but I don't think they would have gone this far for their homies in Gitmo), did the "Democrats" make fools of themselves last week. All in all, I would say it was a most instructive week. If the "Democrats" don't trust the voters, then perhaps the voters might want to consider how far they trust them with power.
Of course, in truth, the majority already have. That's why the "Democrats" are the minority party.
Mark Steyn, of course, is better at this than me :-)