As I write this, President Bush has nominated Judge John Roberts and Judge Samuel Alito – two top-notch and qualified conservative jurists – to the Supreme Court. Judge Roberts has already been confirmed, and the prospects of Alito being confirmed are good. Should Justice John Paul Stevens, 84, a liberal, retire, Bush will have a chance to name a third replacement.
Recently, I was talking with a Gary Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network. Gary made a very good point:
If Bush gets three conservatives appointed to the Supreme Court, it really doesn’t matter what his other failings are: He will go down in history as a great conservative President.
This hat-trick would dramatically alter the philosophical makeup of the high court, and ensure Bush’s legacy. If Bush puts three conservatives on the Supreme Court, most conservatives will willingly ignore his handling of illegal immigration, spending, and the deficit. His failure to reform Social Security won’t be remembered, either.
Of course, the reason for this is that changing the Supreme Court is a legacy unto itself. Bush has only three more years to serve, but reshaping the Supreme Court of the United States, will endure for decades, if not centuries.
These three conservative Judges would dramatically impact the way America looks in the future. In short, this is what we’ve all been fighting for, all these years (this is precisely why the Harriet Miers nomination was so opposed).
Conservatives have also learned that winning elections is good, but with all our electoral success, the culture has continued to decline. Politicians can pass good laws, but legislation does little good when a Judge overturns it. Changing the Supreme Court is the first step toward winning the culture war. It is the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of work by some conservative activists.
It should be noted that the liberals didn’t seize academia, Hollywood, and the courts over night. It took years of organized efforts before the 1973 Roe decision (which many consider the high-point for liberals.) Likewise, it has taken conservatives forty years since Barry Goldwater’s defeat in 1964, to get to this point.
Conservatives, who realize the significance of the Supreme Court nomination battles, will rightly understand the importance of working hard to make these nominations a reality. To us, Bush’s legacy is incidental icing on the cake. We want to change America for the better – and if Bush makes that happen – he rightly deserves our respect and affection. But the real heroes are the conservative activists who survived the Barry Goldwater campaign, helped elect Reagan, and now are about to win the “final frontier.”
A year ago, conservative Stephen Moore said, “Bush has an opportunity over the next four years to create a conservative New Deal, to be one of the most influential presidents in the last 50 years.” To many who have watched Bush’s approval ratings plummet, those words, uttered just a year ago, sound as off-key and out-of-date as Mili-Vanilli.
In the maelstrom of political war, it’s easy to assume things won’t change. John F. Kennedy’s legacy wasn’t the Bay of Pigs, nor was Reagan’s Iran-Contra. In a world that judges your performance based on the final score – not by how you played the first three quarters – it would serve to remember the words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”