The Magazine

Judgment Day

From the July 18, 2005 issue: What President Bush needs to keep in mind with the Supreme Court.

Jul 18, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 41 • By FRED BARNES, FOR THE EDITORS
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And the president has used the same formulation for years in describing the men and women he wants to nominate for the federal judiciary, a formulation he repeated as recently as last week in Denmark. "I'd pick people who, one, can do the job, people who are honest, people who are bright, and people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench to legislate from," he said. "That's what I campaigned on and that's what I want to do."

There's little ambiguity in this. Bush has promised to pick judges, including to the Supreme Court, who understand the role of judicial power and the limits that must be placed on it. There's a name for such people--conservatives. To pick someone for the Supreme Court who doesn't fit this description would amount to betrayal by the president of his most reliable supporters, the very people who have believed in him the most.

We don't expect the president to break his promise--quite the contrary. True, Bush exacerbated the controversy over the possible nomination of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a close Bush friend. He jumped on conservatives who, without attacking Gonzales harshly, recommended that he not be the president's first Supreme Court pick. At the same time, a senior Bush adviser was urging journalists to read Federalist No. 76, in which Alexander Hamilton advised presidents against naming cronies to high positions. Hamilton's view didn't prevail when Bush made Gonzales attorney general, but we suspect it will on the court vacancy. It certainly should.

-Fred Barnes, for the Editors