President Barack Obama has made it official: he’s “remaking the courts.”
At a private fundraiser for liberal Democratic donors at a DSCC (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) event on Nov. 6, Obama said, “we are remaking the courts.”
Only presidents nominate judges to the three levels of the federal judiciary: 94 district courts (for trials), the 13 circuit courts of appeals, and the Supreme Court. Thus, every president makes a very significant impact on the third branch of government, and those appointments–most especially to the Supreme Court–are a defining aspect of each president’s legacy.
There are serious implications in choosing to say he’s “remaking the courts.” That indicates the President is not just replacing retiring judges with new judges; he is instead fundamentally changing the philosophical balance of the courts.
It’s Obama’s right and prerogative to try to remake the courts. At least he understands the importance of the courts and takes seriously the constitutional power to make judicial appointments. Not all presidents have been as focused on this constitutional duty to staff the entire third branch of the federal government.
Obama is seeking to use that power to advance his far-left vision of what America should be, one in which government plays a central role in people’s lives; with a centrally-planned economy; strict and comprehensive government regulation; the redistribution of wealth through massive economic entitlements; and a militantly secular culture where government dictates truth, defines moral values, and is a pivotal influence on raising the next generation.
President Obama understands that so much of what he wants to accomplish runs afoul of the historical understanding of the limits on federal power and the proper meaning of the Bill of Rights that he can only achieve that agenda if a critical mass of federal judges agree with his idea that the words of the Constitution can be completely redefined (i.e., effectively ignored) to grant such sweeping and transformational power to the federal government. He is seeking to remake the courts to share his philosophy of what the Constitution means to enact his agenda for the entire nation.
And conservatives–both Tea Party and cultural–should demand nothing less from a constitutional conservative Republican president. Every Republican candidate for the presidency should be required as a threshold issue for viability to state clearly what sort of judges he will appoint to the federal bench. Those who are not passionately committed to restoring fidelity to the Constitution in our nation’s courts should be utterly disqualified from being the standard-bearer of the GOP in 2016 and beyond.
The only legitimate way to interpret the Constitution–or any form or level of law, for that matter, including statutes and regulations–is originalism: the words of the Constitution and every law must be faithfully interpreted in accordance with what ordinary citizens would understand those words to mean. We are a democratic republic in which We the People rule through their elected representatives. The American people decided what words to put in the Constitution, and therefore unelected judges must be bound to apply the meaning the American people understood when those judges are exercising the awesome power of invoking the Constitution in a lawsuit.
This is a winning issue for conservatives. Most Americans believe that public policy should be decided by elected leaders answerable to the voters, not unelected judges. So most voters also believe that judges should strike down democratically-enacted laws only when the Constitution requires it, not whenever some judge thinks the people are wrong and that the his superior and enlightened understanding of life and liberty entitles him to supersede the will of the people. Making the courts a dominant issue in 2016–and the 2014 midterms–will help elect constitutional conservatives, especially to the White House and the United States Senate.
President Obama has declared an all-out war to remake the federal courts in his image. The Senate’s Democratic leadership completely supports Obama’s judicial agenda. Major battles are now imminent, and this will become a prominent issue in the 2014 midterm elections. And while many media outlets will seek to marginalize this matter or pretend this issue doesn’t exist at all, Breitbart News will cover this important struggle.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.