And — pay attention — hardline conservatives sometimes name weak justices while milquetoast conservatives sometimes name strong constitutional conservatives.
Let’s start with the premise outlined in the title. Name me the last decent justice named by a Democrat. The answer is Byron White, named by President Kennedy nearly 40 years ago. JFK also cut taxes. Those were different times, folks.
Now, for the justices named by Republicans. I think we can agree that Ronald Reagan is our Gold Standard for a Republican president in recent times, whereas tax-raising George H.W. Bush is likely the weakest Republican of modern times.
And Reagan gave us Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork, solid nominees both.
But he also gave us Sandra Day O’Connor and (God help us) Anthony Kennedy. Bad and worse. (And yet still better than any Democrat appointee since Kennedy.) So having a solid conservative in office is no guarantee of uniformly solid justices.
Is a weak Republican a guarantee of weak judicial nominations? Well, the biggest Supreme Court disasters of recent times were David Souter (a George H.W. Bush pick (although you can thank John Sununu for that one) and John Paul Stevens (nominated by the never-elected Gerald Ford). So that would seem to support the idea that weak conservatives nominate terrible justices.
Except that the best Justice sitting on the Court is probably Clarence Thomas, and he was a George H.W. Bush appointee.
What have we learned from this brief examination of recent Supreme Court appointments? That having a Republican in office could mean disaster, whether he is solid or weak — while having a Democrat means certain disaster.
So look. I’d rather have a Reagan over a Pappy Bush any day. I’d rather have a Rick Perry over a Mitt Romney any day. But you can bitch and moan about Mitt Romney all you like, but if you think Obama’s justices would be better than Romney’s then you’re either exaggerating for effect, or you’re not to be taken seriously. I understand the backlash against Mitt. I really do. But to refuse to vote for him if he’s the nominee, and thereby surrendering to Obama, is in my view little different from raising your leg and pissing on the Constitution.
I saw a great quote on Instapundit yesterday from one of his readers:
You know, I just wish that my friends on the Right—whom all say that they detest the policies of Barack Obama and his supporters—would just soldier their way through this next election. I’m afraid they will sit it out, in a electoral fit of pique because the nominee isn’t conservative enough or is too conservative or whatever.
After we get this gang (and I use that word intentionally) out of the Oval Office, then, my friends on the Right can form their Third Party, or push a candidate that they feel is “conservative enough” and so forth.
2012 is too important. And sitting out the election, or carping about a particular candidate…well, it just makes Axelrod smile. And it smooths the path not toward “Four More Years,” but “Four Worse Years.”
That’s a very good point. I would just add that, if we surrender control of the Supreme Court to Democrat appointees, we are looking at far more than four bad years. We’re looking at decades of Constitution-shredding hell.
We can’t let this happen, folks. We can’t.