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VOL. 5, NO. 1 Jan. 9, 2003

Federal Judicial Nominations:
Armageddon Ahead?
On January 6, 2003, People for the American Way President Ralph Neas peered into his crystal ball and discovered only gloom and doom ahead for America. In a mass e-mailing to journalists entitled "The Approaching Armageddon on Judicial Nominations," this radical liberal leader prophesied that "within the next two years Americans will wake up one morning" and "discover that overnight they have lost fundamental rights, liberties, and protections that they thought were theirs forever [i.e., rights to abortions, special status as homosexuals, virtually unrestricted pornography, etc.]."

A Wall Street Journal editorial identifies the architects of this Armageddon as "Mr. Bush's expected appointees to the Supreme Court" [one, or even two, resignations are expected among the Supremes by this summer]. In their evisceration of American liberty, these apocalyptic appointees will join "The two Antichrists already on the bench, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas . . . ."

This new year may well be the landmark judicial year predicted by Mr. Neas; but whether or not it is Armageddon very much depends on the manner in which one defines the word "liberty" whose demise Neas sees as so imminent and complete. Fiercely polarized views of this revered American value are offered by one of America's founders and one of America's most prominent contemporary scholars.

In 1781, Thomas Jefferson (so often cited by contemporary Humanists as the arch typical "separationist") asserted that:

God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that [H]is justice cannot sleep for ever [sic] . . . ..

As if in direct rebuttal of Jefferson's position, contemporary law professor and author Ronald Dworkin argues that "[t]he institution of rights against the Government is not a gift of God, or an ancient ritual, or a national sport. It is a complex and troublesome practice that makes the Government's job of securing the general benefit more difficult and more expensive . . . ."

While Dworkin's thought provides the intellectual foundation (if indeed there is such) for the liberals/Humanists such as Ralph Neas, one is compelled to wonder why "liberties" that are so "bothersome" merit the zealous protection of Neas and his minions. But, then, fatal inconsistencies in logic have never seemed to concern Neas and his comrades.

The proper and consistent definition of "liberty" should, however, be of the gravest concern to those of us committed to an America where there prevails constitutional supremacy rather than judicial supremacy and rule by law rather than rule by the lawless. If President Bush and the Senate select federal judges committed to these principles, we may thank God for once again rescuing us from the edge of the abyss. Otherwise, American may indeed experience its Armageddon, though in a manner quite the opposite of that feared by the likes of Ralph Neas.

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