|Column Archives||Biography||Books/CDs||Publishing Info||Opt In/Out||Feedback||Home|
|Conservative: The New Extreme?||
This week's historical developments
surrounding Bush's judicial nominations reveal a startling trend in the
leading indicators of American culture.
Five judges -- Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor Jr., Henry Saad and William Myers -- have been waiting up to four years to receive a congressional confirmation vote. Democrats and liberal lobbying groups have made a sideshow of the proceedings, calling the judges "dangerous" and "extremists." Even with this week's compromise, sacrificing Saad and Myers in order to actually vote on Owen, Brown and Pryor, the Democrats still reserve the right to threaten a filibuster. As a result, they can further obstruct future judicial appointments in what they call "extraordinary circumstances."
People are rightly asking exactly what constitutes an "extraordinary circumstance." I would go one step further and ask, "How did yesterday's conservative ideas become tomorrow's extremism?"
Let's start with the judges. The primary issue with Priscilla Owen seems to be her position on a Texas case involving parental notification in order for a minor to abort her child. Judge Owen, then on the Texas Supreme Court, argued against an exception to the state law requiring girls under the age of 18 to notify their parents when seeking an abortion. In a 6-3 vote, the court sided with the young girl, while Owen sided with the law.
"She wrestles a problem down to the ground before she decides it," said Chief Justice Tom Phillips, who retired last year. Evidently, the ground Owen landed on in this case caused Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy and others to label her a "judicial activist" (a not-so-nice label conservatives use for liberal judges who do things like support gay marriage by overturning state elections and sanction the starvation of women with brain damage).
Justice Brown's crime? She's a conservative judge. People for the American Way, an unabashedly liberal organization, said Brown "has a record of ideological extremism and aggressive judicial activism that makes her unfit to serve on the appeals court." The Democrat minority leader in the Senate claims Brown would like nothing better than to return America to "Civil War days." Considering the fact that Brown, the daughter of black sharecroppers, was raised dirt poor in segregated Alabama, this sort of accusation is bizarre.
Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen, a self-described liberal, points out that Brown has written 147 majority opinions, more than any other justice, which would indicate that she sits well within the mainstream, even in California.
Michigan's Judge Henry Saad received endorsements from ex-United Auto Workers President Steve Yokich and former Detroit Mayor and self-proclaimed "lifelong Democrat" Roman Gribbs. Yet he was considered too extreme to even receive the dignity of a Senate vote.
All of this branding leads to several larger questions.
When did the belief that marriage is, and always has been, defined as the unity of one man and one woman become "intolerant"? When did prayer in public, whether at school, in congressional proceedings or any other open settings, become the mark of a "right-wing theocracy"? When did the belief that a child in the womb is alive and worthy of protection become a "violation of civil rights"? When did a religious leader's opinion on an election issue become a "violation of the separation of church and state"?
In short, when did the common sense of mainstream America become a sinister part of the "right-wing conspiracy"?
If I am to believe some reports coming out of the national media or certain claims made by Democrat leaders, then the Bible is a misguided book of propaganda, America's founding fathers were oppressive bigots, and most of the people I know, love and respect are crazed fanatics akin to terrorists.
But I know better than that. I've traveled this country from coast to coast for over 40 years. I've spoken to millions of good, honest, hard-working Americans. I've studied the writings and actions of our great heroes. And I've seen the destructive consequences of those who attempt to rewrite history, erode our institutions and dismember the family unit.
There are extremists in our society. But it's not the ones frequently labeled as such. In fact, it's usually the ones hysterically attempting to affix the labels to the rest of us.