McCain’s Court Picks

Just after the Supreme Court overturned D.C.’s gun ban in its Heller decision, a local Republican activists sent out the following e-mail: “It should frighten every American citizen (it frightens me that it doesn’t!) that only ONE Supreme court justice stood between us and our unalienable right to defend ourselves. If anyone needs a reason to vote for John McCain, this is it.”

A variety of conservatives have turned to the Supreme Court as the driving issue to vote for McCain, because he’s so obviously terrible on free speech, environmentalism, and other issues that (some) conservatives care about.

After a long wind-up, Dennis Prager argues, “First of all, other than impeachment, there is no way to undo Supreme Court appointments, two or three of which a President Obama would likely make.”

Prager names several issues: “On almost any social issue that matters — the right to bear arms, late-term abortion, the definition of marriage, capital punishment, and many others — a liberal Supreme Court will rule on these issues…”

Obviously I’m with him on guns. But on late-term abortions and the definition of marriage — and, let’s name the real issue: the legal status of abortion — I fear McCain’s appointees much more than I fear Obama’s. I don’t regard capital punishment as a central issue, but I have no problem at least restricting it to serious cases of murder with unassailable evidence of guilt.

On guns, the Supreme Court’s defense of the individual right is unlikely to be overturned; nor are the many restrictions that the Supreme Court has now explicitly or suggestively allowed.

So far, I see little reason why McCain trumps Obama on the issue of judicial nominees. George Will points out that, on First Amendment grounds, McCain hardly stands out as a great choice:

But now another portion of his signature legislation [the Millionaires’ Amendment] has been repudiated by the court as an affront to the First Amendment, and again Roberts and Alito have joined the repudiation. Yet McCain promises to nominate jurists like them. Is that believable?

Given McCain’s explicit repudiation of our rights of free speech, I doubt that McCain would do much to defend any article of the Bill of Rights. Anyone who refers to our “quote ‘First Amendment Rights’,” as McCain has done, and who drives a campaign censorship law through Congress, has no respect for individual rights. The, quote, Bill of Rights is not properly subject to McCain’s manipulations.