There are some who believe that the President, having won the
election, should have complete authority to appoint his nominee and
the Senate should only examine whether the Justice is
intellectually capable and an all-around good guy; that once you
get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no
further question as to whether the judge should be confirmed. I
disagree with this view. I believe firmly that the Constitution
calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe it calls for
meaningful advice and Consent and that includes an examination of a
judge's philosophy, ideology, and record. - Senator Barack Obama,
January 26, 2006
Conservatives agree with the Senator Obama of 2006 and hope that
President Obama's nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter
on the Supreme Court receives a detailed examination of his or her
judicial philosophy and record.
If the nominee accepts the premise that judges should look to
sources other than the plain text of the Constitution and its
original meaning, then the Senate must carefully consider ideology
as well. Using an "empathy" standard or some other subjective
standard to consider constitutional law would be inappropriate and
Senators need to know if a nominee will read his or her own
ideology into the plain text of the Constitution.
Thus, a nominee should be pressed by the Senate Judiciary
Committee about the proper sources of law for judges, including
whether Justices should look to international law. Nominees should
also be asked whether the Constitution is a living document,
growing to encompass new rights, such as gay marriage. A nominee
should be asked if the Supreme Court should protect the right to
keep and bear arms and the right of the people to be secure in
their property against governmental takings except for
honest-to-goodness public uses.
One strategy being used by President Obama to get his nominee
confirmed is to call for an expedited time line for the Senate to
consider and seat his nominee. The Constitution provides that the
President "shall nominate, by and with the Advice and Consent of
the Senate...Judges of the Supreme Court." There's no "tight
time-line" demanding confirmation by early October.
For those who believe that the President's power to appoint
should inevitably lead to a quick confirmation, note that since
1789 the Senate has chosen not to confirm 36 nominees. Senators
should reject a nominee who cannot fulfill his or her oath of
office by defending and protecting the written Constitution.
Conservatives hope that Senators don't rubber stamp a dangerous
Another Bank Bailout
The Department of Treasury has conducted "stress tests" on 19 of
the nations' largest banks as part of the Troubled Assets Relief
Program (TARP). The purported reason for these tests was to analyze
the capital needs and balance sheets of banks with significant
assets. A model was used to see if banks could withstand future
pressures over the next two years and to see if these banks could
survive under a further downturn of the economy.
The results are in and, according to Reuters, Bank of America
needs $34 billion and Citigroup needs $10 billion in capital to
withstand an economic malaise. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) told Human
Events, "Treasury Secretary Geithner knows that Congress will not
approve another bailout and he is using these stress tests as a
means to create more urgency in order to justify the need for
another government handout to his buddies on Wall Street. I can
assure you that I will do everything I can to see that they don't
get one more dime of taxpayer money."
Conservative are deeply concerned that Geithner, Chairman of the
Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke and President Obama seem all to eager
to use government intimidation to give money to large banks, while
at the same time forbidding many of these same banks from paying
back TARP monies.
A New Entitlement Program
President Obama's recent plan to transform the structure of
higher education financial aid would create yet another entitlement
program. The practical effect of the proposed change would be to
make the U.S. Department of Education a monopoly in the student aid
This is a controversial measure, and that's why Congressional
leaders may use special procedures as part of the President's
Budget to force this measure through as part of a reconciliation
measure. Reconciliation allows for very limited debate, no
substantive amendment process and expedited procedures.
Instead, taxpayers should demand to know how the Administration
can justify creating another entitlement program that will
inevitably expand over the next few years in the face of a
historically high federal deficit.
Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The