George W. Bush tells conservatives to “tone it down” regarding their reservations about Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzalez as his possible pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor–and Laura Ingraham boldly responds: No, you tone it down! (Thanks, Michelle Malkin.) Says Laura:
“In a slightly disturbing interview in USA TODAY, President Bush tells everyone to ’tone down’ the rhetoric. That’s funny, that’s what the Democrats are saying too. The President, in fact, needs conservatives to be mobilized, passionate, and strong in their support of his nominee–toning it down never helps the GOP. (see, e.g., the fights over Bolton, Estrada, and Bork.)”
Laura is right. The Democrats plan to mount a battle royal over practically anybody Bush picks for the Supreme Court, and he doesn’t need to alienate those willing to go to the mat for him and his nominee. Bush ought to remember that even Gonzalez had a tough confirmation battle as attorney general. Robert Bork’s 1987 defeat for confirmation, thanks to weak Senate Republicans and a Reagan White House that for some reason failed to pull out all the stops, was a piece of GOP ignominy that no Republican White House should dare to let be repeated.
My advice to Bush is: Call the Democrats’ bluff. They have exactly one weapon, the filibuster. Should they use it against a Supreme Court nominee, they may please their morally libertarian Hollywood and intellectual base, but they will tear the country apart and, when it is all over, ensure their own relegation to permanent minority status as the party that not only endorses values out of sync with those of the American majority but believes that those values ought to be shoved down the throats of that majority by judges.
The reason conservatives have reservations about Gonzalez is his vote as a Texas Supreme Court justice to nullify a state parental notification law regarding abortions that had been upheld by two lower courts. You don’t have to be against abortion (and many of our IWF members aren’t) in order to be made queasy by such an action. Most Americans believe that parents have a right to be notified about medical procedures undergone by their children, especially a procedure over which they feel entitled to give their moral guidance. When judges throw out some democratically enacted laws that reflect people’s deepest values about family life, we can expect those judges to throw out more such laws in the future. The purpose of the Supreme Court is to enforce the Constitution as it was drafted and other federal laws. It is not to reshape society or to discover new constitutional “rights.” Conservatives’ fears about a Justice Alberto Gonzalez’s becoming exactly this sort of activist are well-founded.
The battle over the Supreme Court is a battle that Bush can win. But he needs all the help he can get–from those who are never willing to “tone it down.”