Bush must be ‘uniter’ for Supreme Court
During his election campaigns, President Bush made promises to be a “uniter, not a divider” and said that if the opportunity arose, to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court with a “strict constructionist,” a justice who relies solely on the original words of the Constitution and no other source to determine the intent of the framers. Now, with the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the president faces what should be the difficult decision of which of these promises to keep.
If the president nominates a strict constructionist — a term that has become synonymous with conservative — in order to please the more vocal segment of his base, there is no hope of keeping his promise to be a uniter. Partisans on both ideological extremes are poised to wage a contentious battle of rhetoric. If he proposes someone less conservative, the lines are still drawn. However, neither ideological extreme truly represents the majority of Americans. The majority of Americans are somewhere in between, near the center. Moderate Americans stand trapped between the battle lines.
Before President Bush selects a nominee, he should visit the Jefferson Memorial where the words of one of the original strict constructionists, Thomas Jefferson, are immortalized: “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, (…) institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.
We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
If President Bush still holds any pretext of being a “uniter,” he should nominate a justice who will deliberate on the merits of a case and not solely on personal beliefs. He should nominate a justice who has a keen perception of the present and a clear eye for the future, not just a narrow view to the past. He should nominate a justice who will seek consensus and not simply vote partisan opinion. He should nominate a justice who represents the real majority of Americans and neither ideological extreme.
Donald Dye is a juniormajoring in physics.