Thursday, November 11, 2004

The FRC Goes Off the Deep End

So far, I've refrained from quoting the Family Research Council because while they often say stuff that sets off my wingnut alarm, it's such a part of their character that it almost seems redundant to point it out. But they've finally gone so far off the deep end that I am compelled to point it out.

The FRC has made known their opposition to Senator Arlen Specter's ascension to the chair of the Judiciary Committee on the grounds that he might not be friendly enough to pro-life nominees. Fair enough. But in their daily Washington Update, group President Tony Perkins makes the outrageous argument that the constitution mandates that the Senate consent to any nominee that the President puts forth, no matter how extreme or unqualified he or she may be.
"The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette endorsed Sen. Specter this year because "he would be in a position to block some of the ideologically extreme federal judges likely to be nominated by President Bush in a second term, some of them for the Supreme Court." With all due respect to Sen. Specter's journalist pals, but the Constitution makes it clear that the Senate's role is to "advise and consent" when it comes to judges, not "block and dissent."

With all due respect to Mr. Perkins, the constitution actually makes it clear that the President can only appoint judges WITH the advice and consent of the senate. Presumably, the senate is well within its rights to NOT give this consent, and I would argue that this is PART of the senate's constitutional responsibilty, not an abrogation of it. The constitution specifically mandates that judicial nominees go through the senate to maintain the system of checks and balances that prevent any one branch of government from monopolizing power. This balancing act is integral to our constitutional scheme of government, and it is shocking to see the FRC advocate throwing it away for short-term political gain. Or rather, it would be if the FRC had any respect for the constitution beyond the point where it affirms their particular ideological standing.

If Mr. Perkins would like to brush up on what the constitution actually says, he can access it online here.

1 comment:

N.S.T said...

Schraub-- I agree with you that the senate has the right to debate judicial nominees and needs to exercise it. However, I would also point out that "Advise and consent" isn't something clearly defined. It is a perfect example of a constitutional power that has become defined over the years through use and custom. The constitution is open to interpretation in many instances, and the main point here is that just because "Advise and consent" has benn interpreted one way in the past, the other interpretations of the words are not Illegal or wrong. I tend to agree that the words shyouldn't be reinterpreted, but I also think you might want to validate the argument in so much as it isn't entirely false.