Elections have consequences
Wednesday, over at RedState.com, Erick Erickson pilloried Indiana Senate candidate Dan Coats for his years-ago statement (during the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg) that “There was a centuries-old tradition of respecting national electoral results by granting the President latitude in selecting nominees for the bench.”
Erickson says that Coats’ statement is a good reason to vote for Marlin Stutzman, Coats’ Republican opposition for the GOP nomination despite the fact that “Dan Coats walking that back, calling his vote for Ginsberg a mistake.”
Erickson has it wrong now; Coats had it right then.
Of the clearest rights of a president is to nominate judges of his choosing. And the words of our Founders made it clear that they did not intend the Senate’s “advice and consent” process to be about judicial philosophy, but rather about making sure the nominee was not chosen through a corrupt process. I would also believe that the Founders would disapprove of a nominee who was manifestly unable or unwilling to protect and defend the Constitution. But they would certainly frown on a Senate blocking a nominee who was simply a bit too liberal or too conservative for a majority or even a minority of the senators’ tastes.
I’ve written about this in great detail before, including criticizing then-Republican Arlen Specter for misusing the Senate’s “advice and consent” function.
I stand by my analysis which means I stand by my view that Erick Erickson is wrong. I don’t love the idea of unilateral disarmament, but once our side starts behaving like their side, we’re lost…as we’ve seen with the behavior of congressional Republicans during the presidency of George W. Bush, especially during his second term.
Republican Senators should, as I have said before, use the opportunity of a Supreme Court nomination to explain to the country the importance of the selection of a Justice. They should also explain how the particular nominee has views that much of the public won’t like. But a nomination is not a second election and that nominee should be approved unless he or she is chosen through a corrupt process or is reasonably believed to be incompetent or unwilling to understand, protect, and defend the Constitution.
Elections have consequences, whether we like it or not. People get the government they deserve. Sometimes you just have to live with your mistakes. This is likely to be one of those times.
If anything, then, a decent reason to vote against Dan Coats would be his willingness to abandon a view which he knows to be correct in the interest of appealing to an angry Republican base in Indiana. I understand and share voter anger, but if that anger stems from recognition that the Democratic Party is racing away from the Constitution, it doesn’t strike me as smart or principled to take another step in that same unAmerican direction out of political spite.
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