Friday, July 01, 2005

Will conservatives blow the opportunity that Kelo presents?

Normally when talk turns to the appointment of a new supreme court justice the social conservatives talk about two things. First will the candidate follow the constitution or does the candidate believe the constitution is a living document. Second what the stance of the candidates are on Roe v Wade.

The first is an issue that many fiscal conservatives can agree on and is the one that I believe the Kelo decision brings into focus. However the second is the one that tends to get the most attention and strident support from the social conservatives as well as the liberals. This tends to split those who are fiscal conservatives and socially liberal between both sides of the decision on selecting a candidate.

If the social conservatives can focus on selecting a strict constitutionalist this time and downplay the abortion issue I think they have an opportunity to gain the support of many "moderates", both Democrat and Republican, that they might otherwise loose. So the question is not what the liberals have to say about the candidates (they are on the wrong side of both issues), but instead what the social conservatives have to say. My hopes are faint, but I still hope.

If you haven't guessed I am a neo-libertarian.

I just realized that I had not made clear why this is a good thing for the social conservatives. I believe that if we select someone who has shown that their number one belief in the law is the constitution is a fact and not a living document. If you pick someone who doesn't let their personal believes, what ever they may be, ever interfere with their court decisions and their court decisions always take the constitution as written we will be much less likely to get a justice who will swing decisions from case to case as we have now. If you focus on a candidate who with you on one or more issues, but has not demonstrated a belief that the constitution is the final word, then you don't know how they will rule on issues other than the issue that you focused on.

I don't believe any of us can afford to focus on candidates based on their position on individual issues. While that may mean that some minor issues don't go the way you would like (and I consider the Ten Commandment decisions, both of them, to be minor issues), it means that the big decisions are more likely to not go against you. I think Kelo was the defining moment for how focusing on single issues can come back to bite you.

I have been corrected, the word I was looking for when using constitutionalist, is actually originalist. I must admit I am not sure I have heard this one before. I do remember hearing constructionist, but it doesn't mean quite the same thing, though close. I am guilty, am many of us are, in making up words when we can think of one, or one doesn't exist to express our ideas. I know at work we have made up a lot of words, mainly having to do with the business process.

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