Politics & Policy

The Conscience of a Senate Liberal

It's much like their Constitution.

The historic purpose of the Senate was to serve as an aristocratic counterweight to the sometimes mindless and destructive passions of the House of Representatives. The Senate would safeguard “the cool and deliberate sense of the community,” according to the Federalist Papers. The framers wanted aged men to serve in the Senate, age providing the advantages of “greater extent of information and stability of character.” The framers didn’t get a chance to meet Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy. Under these old frauds the Senate has become perhaps the least deliberative body of our government, a club of posturing hacks incapable of reasoning beyond the most immature categories.

Leahy, thundering defensively and emotionally on the Senate floor Wednesday, justified mistreating a blameless and manifestly qualified nominee on the grounds that the Senate is the “conscience” of America. Because he represents “300 million people,” his reasoning must have gone, he is entitled to put the most sinister construction possible on Samuel Alito’s judicial record. Leahy is still teething on a 1960s conception of conscience that gives liberals permission to suspend it whenever “good ends” are at stake. Flat-out lying about Alito’s impeccable record is okay, because, well, he could threaten our rights and liberties–as defined by the Democrats who regularly violate them.

This moral stance is one of laughable presumption: We stand for all good things, is essentially what they were saying to him, and you don’t. Pat Leahy would never let a “ten-year-old girl” be subject to a strip search. It pains him just to contemplate the horror of it. But Judge Alito? He just doesn’t care about ten-year-old girls the way Democrats do.

The Democrats either cannot, or willingly refuse to, grasp the idea that a judge is not the guarantor of all good things; and that the people have a constitutional right to pass, through their representatives, inadequately crafted laws–laws which judges are not authorized to strike down out of a sense of moral or intellectual superiority. Even if the Democrats were reliable judges of all that is good–which they obviously are not–their expectations of judges would still be astonishingly infantile. Not all bad laws are unconstitutional. To try and pressure a judge into promising to declare them unconstitutional is an outrageous litmus test; it is a gross lie to say that a judge like Alito, when he recognizes the constitutionality of an ill-conceived law, endorses or bears responsibility for the outcome.

Ted Kennedy said that the Constitution is summed up in the four words engraved on the Supreme Court, “Equal Justice Under Law.” So he expects judges to throw out any law that doesn’t comport with that proper sentiment. Dick Durbin didn’t even bother in his Wednesday floor speech to conceal the Democrats’ bald view of a Supreme Court justice as a supreme legislator. Durbin made it clear that he wouldn’t vote for Alito simply because he is unlikely to vote the same way as Sandra Day O’Connor. The Democrats’ entrance exam for the Supreme Court is not attachment to the Constitution but knowledge of and allegiance to your predecessor’s voting record–provided it is sufficiently liberal.

Because Alito refused to agree to their spur-of-the-moment restrictive description of the constitutional powers of the executive branch, the Democrats implied that he will be a tool of an abusive president, itching to spy on Americans. Never mind that these self-appointed privacy advocates are usually the first to violate the privacy of others, if doing so means scoring a few petty political points. Pat Leahy, who once shared classified documents with reporters, occasionally has no qualms about violating the privacy of others. It was with privacy violations that he earned his nickname “Leaky Leahy.”

Indeed, the Left will violate the privacy of others on the thinnest and most juvenile of pretexts. As long as the subject of the invasion of privacy is an odious conservative, pretty much anything goes. Can we get some grainy footage of Antonin Scalia slapping a tennis ball around at a resort in Colorado during John Roberts’s swearing in? Sure, let’s go for it. And we’ll build a little smear around it to see if we can do the guy some damage.

ABC’s clownish report on Scalia’s “apparent snub” of Roberts (as its reporter hedged, even though, by the end of the segment, he seemed to be saying that the grave moral offense wasn’t the timing of the “junket,” but that Scalia went on it at all) is one of innumerable examples of the Left’s willingness to invade the privacy of others for no reason save trivial spite. The conscience of the Left is no more fixed than its “living Constitution.”

George Neumayr is a writer living in the Washington, D.C. area.

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