For the past year, Republicans have been trying to explain to us
small-government advocates why we should vote for George W. Bush. But
since Mr. Bush has no plans to reduce government or improve our lives in
any significant way, Republicans have had only one argument: he isn’t Al
Gore. (“You don’t want Al Gore in the White House, do you?”)
But after seeing the Republican convention — with its theme, “big
government can be compassionate government” — it turns out that George
Bush is Al Gore after all.
Since George Bush loves big government as much as Al Gore does,
Republicans have had to find another reason for us to choose Bush over
Gore. So they remind us that the next President may select as many as
three or four new Supreme Court judges.
“Do you want Al Gore choosing those judges?” they ask.
The Supreme Court is a favorite Republican whipping boy. They blame
the court for many of today’s ills — hoping we’ll ignore the role of
the big-spending Reagan and Bush administrations and the pork-obsessed,
over-regulating, power-hungry Republican Congress.
They neglect to mention that Republican presidents appointed seven of
the nine judges on the court they love so much to hate. They expect us
to jump at the chance to vote for a president who will undoubtedly
appoint more judges like Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David
And they ignore the fact that even their favorite judges — Clarence
Thomas and Antonin Scalia — often ignore the plain meaning of the
Constitution in an effort to impose their own values on America.
Picking a Supreme Court judge
We have bad Supreme Court judges because bad presidents have chosen
them. And the court won’t be improved by electing another big-government
president — whether his name is Al Gore or George Bush.
Every modern Supreme Court justice decides constitutional questions
by referring to something other than the plain language of the
Constitution. They invoke “original intent,” a “living Constitution,”
“penumbras,” “the greater good,” or the “compelling interest” of
government. In so doing, they demonstrate that they’re unqualified to
sit on the Supreme Court.
What should be the proper qualifications of a Supreme Court judge?
Should the president apply a litmus test in choosing nominees?
Yes, he should. If I become president, I will ask six simple
questions of any potential judge.
The First Amendment says,
- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably
to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And yet, when Congress or a legislature makes a law censoring
the Internet, restricting political advocacy, prohibiting cigarette
advertising on TV, or barring hate speech, the judges don’t strike it
down automatically. They deliberate to determine whether the government
has a “compelling interest” in regulating speech or the press.
But the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law. …”
It doesn’t speak of the government’s “compelling interest” or provide
for any exceptions or qualifications. It says very simply, “Congress
shall make no law. …”
So the first question I would pose to any potential Supreme Court
1. Can you read?
If the prospect can pass a reading test, we can move on to the second
2. What do the words “Congress shall make no law” mean?
The Second Amendment says:
- A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a
free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
Again, no exceptions or qualifications are given. So my next
3. What do the words “shall not be infringed” mean?
And on from there:
4. Do the thousands of gun laws now on the books infringe in any
way whatsoever on the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”?
The Ninth Amendment says:
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not
be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Nowhere in the Constitution is the government given the power to
take away your right to privacy, your right to defend yourself, your
right to keep your property, your right to choose your own retirement
program, or in fact any other right.
So my next question is:
5. What rights do the people no longer have, and where in the
Constitution were those rights taken from the people?
The 10th Amendment says:
- The powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
States respectively, or to the people.
My final question will be:
6. Where in the Constitution was it delegated to the United States
government the power to interfere in education, health care, law
enforcement, welfare, charity, corporate welfare, or any of the many
other areas that form a part of today’s overbearing, over-regulating,
over-expensive federal government?
These six questions will tell me all I need to know about the kind of
judge a potential nominee would be.
The Constitution isn’t written in Chinese, Swahili, or Esperanto. It
is in plain English. We don’t need anyone to translate or interpret for
us. It isn’t even necessary to study the history of the adoption of the
Constitution, since there’s nothing mysterious about its words.
Phrases like “make no law” or “shall not be infringed” or “retained
by the people” or “reserved to” are comprised of everyday words that
require no search for “original intent” or “penumbras.”
The Constitution means what it says it means — or it means nothing
at all. And any judge who overrules the plain English of the
Constitution is no judge at all — whether he’s been appointed by a
Republican or a Democrat.
Will either Al Gore or George Bush choose judges on the basis of
their respect for the plain words of the Constitution?
Of course not. They both believe in big government. They both believe
your leaders know what’s best for you.
Neither of them thinks of you as a sovereign individual with
inalienable rights he should leave alone. And neither of them intends to
have his grand plans for a Brave New World derailed by the plain words
of the Constitution.
Al Gore doesn’t want a Supreme Court judge who will strike down his
vision for federal pre-school programs. George Bush doesn’t want a judge
who will strike down his vision of federal school vouchers.
Neither of them wants judges who will keep him from meddling in
education or violating the Constitution in any other way. Quite the
So why should you think you’ll be any freer with a Bush Supreme Court
than one selected by Al Gore? Do you believe George W. Bush — who
hasn’t proposed a single reduction in big government — is determined to
keep the government’s nose out of your business?
I don’t think so. He can’t wait to get his hands on the reins of
power so he can use your tax money to promote his favorite charities. He
can’t wait to impose his concept of a good society on you.
What Do You Want?
Do you want smaller government?
If so, you will never get it so long as you support those who are
making government bigger. You will never get it by inventing excuses to
vote for those who are working to make government more expensive, more
intrusive, more oppressive.
If you vote Republican or Democratic, you’re giving up. You’re saying
there’s no hope you’ll ever be free, and so you’re just going to make
the best of a bad bargain — by voting for the person who will take you
to Hell at the slowest rate.
If you want freedom, you must vote for freedom — not for big
government. When you do so, you may not get what you want this year. But
you’re paving the way to get freedom in your lifetime — and maybe even
in this decade.
But with the Republicans and Democrats, you’ll never get what
you want. Instead, you, your children, and your grandchildren will face
an ever-larger, more intrusive government.
To get freedom, you have to vote for it — for candidates who are
unconditionally for smaller government, with no exceptions and no