Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has announced his retirement. The opening of a Supreme Court seat will again open the ongoing debate in our nation over abortion. Like it or not, a nominee’s stand on this issue will take center stage in the confirmation process.
If you take a tour of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, you eventually reach a relatively small room in the basement. It is the old Supreme Court. Prior to getting its own building across the street, the Supreme Court used to be housed under the building in which our federal lawmakers represent us. They pass laws; judges don’t. Judges simply judge whether an existing law has been violated in a particular case, by particular parties.
Or at least that’s what they’re supposed to do. We live in an age of judicial activism, or as some have called it, judicial tyranny. Judges are striking down laws and writing new ones left and right, without precedent and without reason. The most damaging instance of this in our nation’s history was the Roe vs. Wade decision, unleashing the holocaust of abortion.
So, in short, the judge’s position on the issues shouldn’t matter. Judges aren’t politicians. There shouldn’t be a tug of war between factions trying to get people confirmed because they take “their position” on particular issues, or because they are “moderate” in their views. Commenting on the concept of “moderate judges,” Justice Antonin Scalia once said, “What in the world is a moderate interpretation of a constitutional text? Halfway between what it says and what we’d like it to say?”
All this is fair enough. People on both sides of major issues say they are not in favor of “litmus tests.”
But if a judge had written an opinion in a law review about why women should not have the right to vote, wouldn’t that single issue be enough to most people to disqualify him from being confirmed? Or what if a nominee were known to belong to the Ku Klux Klan? Wouldn’t that single fact be enough to disqualify him from consideration?
The fact is that we use litmus tests all the time. There are certain lines that most people agree should not be crossed.
Supreme Court Justices are not supposed to shape public policy, and their nomination and confirmation should be based on their qualifications, not their views on specific issues.
But there are certain issues so central to the very nature and purpose of government that one’s position on those issues is tantamount to a qualification for the job. The very purpose of government is the protection of human rights, starting with life. No court can legitimize an act of violence, or take away human rights. Anyone who fails to affirm that does not belong in any public office, much less the US Supreme Court.
The United States Senate will have the responsibility to vote for or against the President’s nominee. Let’s start now letting our Senators know where we stand. And please help us rally support on Facebook as well at this link: http://ow.ly/1xixP.