In an episode of Seinfeld that first aired on October 27, 1994, the Elaine character proclaimed her support for abortion. In response, another character asked, “What gives you the right to do that?” She stood up and loudly retorted, “The Supreme Court gives me the right to do that.”
Conservatives all over America should have taken notice. When our Founders drafted Article III of the Constitution in Philadelphia, they vested the federal judiciary with specific powers. Nowhere, however, did anyone, anywhere, grant the Supreme Court the power to give rights to the American people.
Our Founders established the judiciary to decide controversies – not bestow rights or even take them away. The popular press has lauded the Seinfeld episode for so “bravely” addressing abortion – but why has no one wondered how a popular TV character’s misstatement of basic civics could go unchallenged? Those who care about democracy should stop this runaway train.
A seismic shift in attitudes regarding the judiciary took a firm hold in our culture, and it would only get worse. That Seinfeld episode was the harbinger of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination fiasco — remember the throngs of unhinged protesters banging on the doors of the Supreme Court? This weekend, after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, right on cue, demonstrators took up their signs and marched to the home of Senator McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader. How did we get to a place in history where the Left is convinced that one Supreme Court justice can grant or take away rights, threatening democracy?
To the extent that the federal government chooses to enact a law providing everyone with health care or providing citizens with a future, whatever that means, or writes a statute to control the climate – isn’t that the purview of the legislative branch? If we cede that kind of power to a lone Supreme Court Justice, we can no longer call ourselves self-governed.
Sadly, the unravelling reared its ugly head back in 1987 when President Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. The late Senator Ted Kennedy immediately rabbleroused, telling America that if Robert Bork sat on our nation’s highest court, “[W]omen would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.”
Sound familiar? The Left trots out similar rallying cries every time a Republican President fills a Supreme Court vacancy.
Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez reacted to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by channeling Senator Kennedy over the weekend, telling her social media followers, “… This kind of vacancy is the difference between us having health care and not. It’s the difference between us having a future and our climate or not, and the timing of this vacancy is extremely unsettling and scary to a lot of people.”
Well, when you put it that way, why do we even need Congress? To the extent that the federal government chooses to enact a law providing everyone with health care or providing citizens with a future, whatever that means, or writes a statute to control the climate – isn’t that the purview of the legislative branch? If we cede that kind of power to a lone Supreme Court Justice, we can no longer call ourselves self-governed.
The Left learned long ago that amending the Constitution, with the pesky first step of getting two-thirds of both the House and the Senate to pass the proposal, required way too much time and frankly, too much democratic process. Filing a lawsuit on a hot button policy issue and shepherding the case up to the Court to convince five of the nine unelected Justices to issue an opinion on a heretofore unenumerated right became a much easier and quicker path. The Left not only sanctions, but encourages, this end run around democracy. To the extent we allow it to continue to happen, we have strayed far from what our Framers intended.
Conservatives want members of the federal judiciary, and especially Supreme Court Justices, to stay in their lane and interpret the laws and Constitution as written. As the Left continues to screech about democracy’s demise if a Republican appoints Supreme Court Justices, think about the true meaning of “we the people.” As we watch events unfold in the coming weeks and months, think about what actually threatens our democratic process.
Do we really want a Supreme Court that grants rights to us? Or would you rather decide on those rights yourself, through your elected representatives? Only one of those constitutes the type of democracy our Framers intended. We should pick our Justices accordingly.