• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • A Supreme Court Vacancy: What’s at Stake, What’s Required

    Supreme Court Justice David Souter

    The news that Justice David Souter will be resigning from the Supreme Court has left some conservatives momentarily confused. It should not. As much as Justice Souter disappointed those faithful to the Constitution, and those disappointments are legion, he was reasonable or even sound in several key areas (more will be forthcoming from my colleagues on that). Any Supreme Court appointment is momentous, but what is at stake now is a potential shift from a center-left justice to a far-left justice.

    This is what all Americans have a right to expect of a qualified judicial nominee, especially for the High Court:

    • A Constitutionalist: Someone with proven fidelity to uphold the original meaning of the Constitution and laws as written.
    • An Umpire: Someone who adheres to Chief Justice John Roberts’s analogy of a baseball umpire. E.g., someone who doesn’t bend the rules for the game, but just calls them as he sees them; someone who offers no favoritism depending on who is at bat.
    • An Originalist: Someone who takes the original, public meaning of the text (Constitution and laws) seriously and does not look for excuses to depart from it and read into it what he or she wants.

    And all Americans should expect the U.S. Senate to carefully explore and guard against unacceptable qualities:

    • An activist who interprets the Constitution and laws in light of her personal preferences or how she thinks they ought to have been written.
    • Someone who would elevate “empathy” over what the rule of law requires.
    • Someone who twists the law “for the little guy” because politicians and the press praise it. A fair judge should be neutral and rule the same way–according to the laws as written–regardless of who is before the court.

    President Obama’s past statements provide reason for concern that he does not understand these fundamental principles or that he does not agree with the limited role that judges have under the Constitution.

    In the coming months, Heritage will explain in detail why the role of judges is not to make new and supposedly “better” law according to their own personal, political and social beliefs–it is to apply the text as written. Americans want the representatives they elect to Congress, who are answerable to the people through our elective process, making the law, not unelected federal judges. And this is what our constitutional system requires.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to A Supreme Court Vacancy: What’s at Stake, What’s Required

    1. Pingback: Day 2 - Reactions to the Souter Announcement « Justice Chatter

    2. Dale MN says:

      Those words used by the Pres. are very very against the Constitution and Law of America. When he admits right out that the Justice he will appoint change the laws as they see fit and how they feel about the case in front of them. "Empathy of understanding and identifying what people’s hopes and struggles are" does not belong in the court room when in America we base innocent or guilty on evidence, NOT feelings and empathy of the Judge.

      Will some one please explain to Obama that the laws are what we go by in the JUSTICE SYSTEM and he appoints "someone who understands justice and isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book" he will be making a self admitted UNCONSTITUTIONAL decision based on personal feelings. Undermining our Judicial System with someone appointed for reasons other then what the Constitution and OATH they take stands for is nothing other then TREASON. I am so tired of this daily bold and belligerent OFFICIAL activity by the President, Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Frank, and to many to mention it makes me sick to my stomach that the people that understand how we can make this stop with protections put in place to end the lunacy.

      WILL ANY ONE PLEASE START THE BALL OF AMERICAN JUSTICE ROLLING. I know the solid patriotic, law bidding, hard working, honest and a Constitution, bible, gun hugging loyal American Citizen knows what is right for our country.

      Our congress must watch this and other actions that will affect the next election and many to follow. It takes longer to fix something then to break it but it will always be fixed. Only the damage done during is unrecoverable.

    3. Pingback: The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room » MIDDAY ROUNDUP

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.