Editor’s note: This speech was delivered to the meeting of the Council for National Policy in Tysons Corner, Virginia on Saturday, May 12, 2007.
One thing about folks knowing you are going to speak at the Council for National Policy, you get lots of advice as to what to say.A lot of good advice. Good talking points.In fact enough for several speeches.Also, some of your friends, knowing that you are thinking about running for President, urge you to give a rousing campaign speech.
Hopefully there will be an opportunity to do all of those things but tonight instead of all of that, I want to talk a little about what should be the origin of all those talking points.This would be the principles on which they are based — first principles.The principles you have been defending since 1981.
For Americans, these are found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.They include a recognition of God and the fact there are certain rights that come from Him and not the government. They are based upon a respect for the wisdom of the ages, and a belief that human beings are prone to err; that too much power must never rest in too few hands. The result is a system of checks and balances and a separation of powers that flow from our guiding documents and from the rule of law.
Finally, if we want to change or alter these concepts or any provision in the Constitution, we are given a specific method to do that — by Constitutional Amendment.
So how are we doing as a nation in upholding these first principles?The answer is we could be doing better … a lot better.
I want to tell you a couple of short stories from my own personal experience.Each story is about a man.They are both public figures and I was blessed with the opportunity to be of some small assistance to each of them.Their circumstances have to do with these first principles.
First, an observation. Our nation is based upon the proposition that our statutes, common law and the Constitution will not only be applied fairly between litigants, but will also be observed by the government.People will be able to rely upon the rules, usually long established, and their consistent application.This engenders respect for the law.It is a sad irony that a nation that is so dedicated to the rule of law is doing so much to undermine the respect for it.
Our founders established an independent federal judiciary to decide cases, not social policy.Yet more and more that is exactly what it is doing.Roe v. Wade is a classic example.And nowhere is it more apparent than with regard to the issue of church and state.
Many federal judges seem intent on eliminating God from the public schools and the public square in ways that would astound our founding fathers.We never know when a five to four Supreme Court decision will uphold them.They ignore the fact that the founders were protecting the church from the state and not the other way around.Instead of having the basic rules of society changed in the way clearly set forth in the Constitution by two-thirds votes of both Houses and by three-fourths of the states, the entire process is reversed by the stroke of a pen and supporters of the rule of law have the burden placed upon them, which is usually insurmountable.
We have always held our federal judiciary in high esteem, even at a time when most of our institutions are under assault.However, if judges continue to act like politicians they will get the respect currently given to politicians.It is already rapidly headed in that direction.The antidote for this, of course, is good judges. And presidents who know one when they see one … one like John Roberts.
John Roberts is the first of the individuals I referred to earlier.The President asked me to help Judge Roberts through the Senate confirmation process.Certain things were apparent at the outset — he was a Conservative, he believed deeply in first principles, including the rule of law and, lastly, his opponents would do everything they could to defeat his nomination.
Judge Roberts’s character, intellect, and devotion to the law were unassailable.Of course for a conservative this is just the beginning of the discussion, not the end.The usual liberal outside groups mounted their horses and charged, but we fought the battle and won.However, we were reminded once again of several things during this process.
·What a steep price even the best Conservative nominee has to pay.The Washington Post “Style” section criticized the way his small children were dressed.The New York Times was caught trying to get the adoption records of his children unsealed.
·We were reminded how desperate the liberal community is to keep the deck stacked in their favor.
·And most importantly, we were reminded that the quality of an individual can overcome all obstacles.So he is now Chief Justice John Roberts.
I kept wondering throughout all of this, why would politicians want this to be the last experience a man would have before he assumed the role of Chief Justice of the United States?
This also brought home again the importance of elections of a President and the Senate.It is ironic indeed that any President’s legacy could well be formed on the basis of something that is usually very far from the public’s consciousness — the nomination of federal judges.And on this nomination and that of Justice Alito this President can be proud and our entire nation can be grateful.