Hinderaker and Mirengoff on Alito nomination
The WaPo has an article by bloggers John Hinderaker and Paul Mirengoff on the Alito nomination. A historical point:
"Focusing on what it means to be a "conservative" in this context highlights a basic asymmetry between how the left and the right look at the Supreme Court. Until the past few decades, nominations to the court were generally noncontroversial. The court was not viewed as a political power center, and most people assumed that a judge would affect their lives only if they happened to have a case before him. Thus, as recently as 1962, Justice Byron White was confirmed just 11 days after being nominated by President John F. Kennedy, by a unanimous voice vote in the Senate following a Judiciary Committee hearing that lasted a single morning.
What happened to turn Supreme Court nominations into mini-Armageddons? Liberals increasingly came to view the court as a legislature of last resort, where policies too liberal and too unpopular to be enacted by real legislatures could be mandated by fiat of the court's liberal majority. ....
When conservatives say that we want "conservative" judges, or "strict constructionist" or "constitutionalist" judges, what we mean is pretty simple: We want judges who won't make stuff up. We want judges who won't view the Constitution as a mirror in which, at every turn, they see reflected their own opinions and policy preferences.....
The corollary of the proposition that judges shouldn't make up stuff that isn't in the Constitution or laws is that judges also don't have the discretion to ignore language that is in the Constitution or the laws. Thus, the interstate commerce clause must be recognized as a limitation on Congress's power to regulate the economy, as Judge Roberts noted in the case of the "hapless toad." The Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws can't be ignored every time a public university wants to prefer some applicants over others, based on race. And the Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms can't be treated as if it got repealed somewhere along the way.
It is in connection with such issues that liberals often argue that conservative judges are really just as "activist" as liberal judges, if not more so. This is based on the observation that conservatives sometimes hold statutes unconstitutional because, for example, they exceed the constitutional limits on federal power. But again, liberals overlook a fundamental asymmetry: It is activist to import something into the Constitution that is not written there, based on one's own policy preferences. It is not activist to apply and enforce the Constitution as it is written. That, on the contrary, is the duty of every state and federal judge."