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A Disturbing Civics Lesson

Reviewing the transcripts of yesterday’s Alito hearings provided a nice refresher on basic American government. The Senators spoke very clearly, and in small words, about the three branches of government, advice and consent and checks and balances. If anyone stayed awake through the whole affair, their fortitude was rewarded by a remedial civics lesson.

Of course, the real civics lesson lies in the senators’ disposition toward the judiciary. The frequent references to checks and balances, delivered with furrowed brows and in reverent tones, mask two pernicious Democratic distortions.

First, it cannot be denied that the Democrats accept the political domination of the Court. Democrats are untroubled by this usurpation because its results have been propitious from their point of view. The extreme social liberalism of the federal judiciary has allowed liberal Democrats to typically avoid the necessity of advocating unpopular positions (such as gay marriage or partial-birth abortion) publicly from the floor in Congress. The judicial super-legislature has handled most of the heavy lifting over the last fifty years and since it is advancing many of their core values, there is nothing to do but celebrate its sovereignty. They are happy to trade the cumbersome process of republicanism for the ease of a benign omnipotent oligarchy.

Second, the Democrats regard the Court, like all government, as a tool for expanding the cult of the individual under the guise of liberty. The evolution so fondly spoken of by those on the left is really the emergence of the ascendant, imperial self. Government recedes before the individual under this conception, and both laws and mores are barriers to this manifestation. Government is to bow down, and the Court will enforce this subservience.

The iniquity of these positions is compounded by the fact that they represent a complete contradiction. If the power of the Court is to be unrestricted so as to better coerce certain behavior or attitudes in favor of liberty, then liberty itself must be sacrificed to the omnipotent Court. If, on the other hand, individual liberty is to reign supreme, then even the Court and its pronouncements must yield. The very idea of government assumes both sides. Thus, Democrats have swept aside ages of political discourse devoted to this very issue of the relationship between individual liberty and governmental power.

And yet, there is even more, or perhaps less, to the Democratic position. Governmental power is nothing more that the manifestation of individual liberty, collectively expressed. The distinction between the power of the government and the power of the individual is a false one. A law against polygamy (for instance), duly enacted by the legislature, represents the affirmative and definitive expression of individuals. Such a law is a parameter or definition of freedom that enhances it. Without such parameters, the concept of liberty itself is absurd. This inconvenient augural hangs ominously over the confirmation follies and bears testimony to how far we have fallen from the republican ideal.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 10, 2006 8:22 PM.

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