Now that President Obama is getting ready to make his second Supreme
Court nomination, the usual banter is taking place about the court
and judicial philosophy.
The Supreme Court, of course, profoundly influences the character of
Although, for instance, many look back on the policies of Franklin
Roosevelt and his New Deal programs as the beginning of the real
growth of the American welfare state, it is really key Supreme Court
decision during that time that enabled all of this. Court decisions
changing the interpretation of “general welfare”, interstate
commerce, and the authority of the federal government to tax changed
the game and opened a new era of big government.
At the beginning of the 1930’s, the federal government’s take of
national GDP was a little over ten percent. By the mid-1940’s it was
over twenty percent, and the trend has been only upward since.
Although much of the discussion about judicial philosophy contrasts
how conservative and liberal judges relate to the constitution, I
think the real key to conservative and liberal divergence is the
world view these judges already have when they sit down to interpret
The statement of vision defining American values appears in the
Declaration of Independence. Understanding that vision is where I
think the most fundamental conservative versus liberal divide
Consider how President Obama relates to the Constitution, as he
wrote in his book The Audacity of Hope – “Implicit in its
structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of
Our president is a moral relativist. So we may expect that he
doesn’t take very seriously the idea, as state in the Declaration of
Independence, that there are absolutes. That we have God given
rights that precede government and that the job of government is to
Rather than seeing government’s job as securing our rights, the
liberal sees it to invent them. The politician – or the empathetic
judge – defines what is moral and just.
There’s a lot of speculation about what is driving the tea party
movement and why, as reflected in the latest survey by the Pew
Research Foundation, Americans’ trust in government is at an all
I think most fundamentally it’s discomfort with this moral
relativism that is driving the pervasive unrest.
The whole unique idea of American government – the idea of human
liberty – was that there are absolute truths and that individual
citizens can and must be protected from arbitrary rulers – whether
it is a king or a political class with arbitrary powers.
President Obama said the other day regarding the kind of court
nominee he will seek, “…I want somebody who is going to be
interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account
What in the world can this possibly mean from our president who has
just signed into law a health care bill which will force every
single American citizen to buy a government defined health care
insurance policy? A health care bill that opens the door to
unprecedented government control over how private individuals manage
their health care and the most private decisions they make over
their own lives.
Or what can it possibly mean coming from our president who opposed
the Supreme Court’s decision a few years ago banning partial birth
abortion – which is pure and simple torture and murder of a live
The real differences over liberal and conservative judges is most
fundamentally about the world in which Americans will live. Whether
we live and will live in a nation in which there are absolute truths
or one in which we are at the hands of political arbitrariness in
which our lives and property are up for grabs.
Our country is being governed today by those with the latter view of
the world and, fortunately, more and more Americans are deeply