The Corner

Unity, Rehnquist’s Wishes & Scotus

Among the dumber arguments out there is that we need a “uniter” on the Supreme Court in the wake of Katrina. Just two days ago I listened to Chuck Schumer make the perfectly legitimate point that long after Katrina is a memory, Bush’s Supreme Court pick will be on the court ruling on a wide sweep of issues. Hence, he explained, he had to keep his nose to the grind stone. He was exactly right. The business of the entire nation cannot come to a halt because of Katrina. And, before any smug lefty emailers complain about my insensitivity ask yourself if Social Secruity checks should stop going out because of Katrina? How about civil rights enforcement? Etc?

Anyway, so Schumer’s point was that we can’t let the current crisis dictate the court’s business for decades to come. But now we’re supposed to believe that because of Katrina we need a uniter on the court. How long is this unity supposed to last? When it ebbs should Bush’s nominee step down in deference to the president’s preferred-but-less-unifying nominee?

Now Schumer himself isn’t calling for a permanent unity nominee, he wants instead Sandra Day O’Connor to serve as Chief Justice for one year — in the name of unity, of course. But the unity chorus is drowning-out the giggling about this transparent gimmick to run-out the clock on Bush in the lead-up to the ‘06 elections.

Meanwhile, an equally stupid talking point is being trouted out by Republicans in favor of expedited hearings: Rehnquist would have wanted us to move forward. I heard both Cornyn and Hatch make this claim yesterday.

Who cares what Rehnquist would have wanted? Oh sure, about his funeral or his estate his wishes are key. But if Rehnquist left instructions saying he wanted Jesse Jackson or Michael Moore appointed to replace him, would Republicans say “well, it’s what he wanted”?

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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