The Crowning Jewels of the Bush Legacy
I know it has been Bush-bashing season for the last two or three years now, and the "in" thing is to compare President Bush to Saddam Hussein or Adolf Hitler and throw shoes at him, but I for one think President George W. Bush has done many good things and his legacy will shine a light on our country for years to come.
Many believe President Bush's legacy is all about his fight against terrorism, and I agree to a certain extent. I still get chills when I think of that captivating moment, right after 9-11, when President Bush stood with the rescue workers on top of the rubble at the World Trade Center and encouraged a nation in despair. The President showed great leadership through a tough time in our nation, and I hope we can all appreciate that we have not had a similar attack since then, though our enemies have certainly tried.
But there are many other things we should celebrate. We should always remember that President Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which recognized the child in utero as a person, and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, calling it:
[A] step toward the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. It is a step toward the day when the promises of the Declaration of Independence will apply to everyone, not just those with the voice and power to defend their rights.
He helped continue to spread a "culture of life" by re-establishing the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited all non-governmental organizations receiving federal funding from performing and promoting abortion services in other countries. He showed enormous support for marriage and abstinence education with initiatives like the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). We should never forget his efforts against sex-trafficking, culminating in the recent signing of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. Let's remember, too, his instrumental work at the United Nations to fight efforts to establish an international "right" to abortion and allow human cloning, among other things.
But the appointments of John G. Roberts to be the 17th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and Samuel A. Alito to be an Associate Justice have to be the crowning jewels of the Bush legacy.
I don't think anyone would debate the enormous impact Supreme Court rulings have had throughout our history. The Supreme Court has told us in years past, among other things: that African slaves were not citizens, but the property of their slave masters;1 that a fetus is not a person and therefore does not enjoy the right to life;2 that student-led, student-initiated prayer before school football games violates the Constitution;3 that sodomy is protected by the Constitution;4 that posting the Ten Commandments in a courtroom is unconstitutional,5 but outside of the courthouse is permissible;6 and that the government is entitled to seize privately owned real property and transfer it to another private owner for economic development.7
Those who object to the ideas upon which this country was founded have grown accustomed to bringing about policy change through the courts. For a long time, the Supreme Court has played right into their hands. Extremists know the majority of Americans do not support their policies, so they look for the courts to impose those policies by judicial fiat.
Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, on the other hand, respect the Constitution and believe the judiciary should not overstep its boundaries by interfering with the power of the Legislative or Executive Branch. This philosophy results in the protection of our liberties, especially our religious liberties, which are continually being attacked.
Both men conducted themselves magnificently during their respective confirmation hearings, showing great wisdom and poise. They showed great respect for the constitutional process and the senators who tried to perform their constitutional duty by questioning them, though that respect was not always reciprocated.
In the hearings, and in their short time at the Supreme Court, they have shown their great legal reasoning, validating the vote of confidence Americans gave them. Does that mean they've always voted like we all think they should? No. That's the liberal approach to the bench. Liberals want the results to go their way, no matter how they get it. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that process is sometimes more important than results. To reach an outcome we desire by judicial activism is just as repugnant to us.
Roberts and Alito's sincere approach to the law reflects this concern and respect for our foundational principles and, as a result, the nation will be blessed for many years to come.
Consider that Justice Alito is only 58 years old and Chief Justice Roberts only 53. On the other hand, Justice John Paul Stevens, who still serves the court with great vigor, is 89 years old. That would give Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito over thirty years of service to our nation. Talk about a long-lasting legacy.
Chief Justice Roberts especially will be a very influential force for our nation because, as Chief Justice, he leads the day-to-day business of the Court, guiding conferences where cases are discussed and one of the most important question the Court ever faces is dealt with: whether to hear a case or not. Remember, the Court will hear only about eighty of eight thousand cases each term.
The Chief Justice enjoys the most seniority of all the justices, no matter when he was appointed. This is important because when a case is decided the most senior justice on the majority decides who writes the opinion of the Court. Therefore, whenever in the majority, Chief Justice Roberts will have great influence by choosing to write the opinion himself or assigning it to a specific justice. It is not only the bottom line but the tone of an opinion which sets precedent and has great impact on the way similar cases are handled in the future.
These duties, among others like presiding over the Senate during impeachment trials of the President, give Chief Justice Roberts a great opportunity to restore American's confidence on our legal system.
It's 2009, and President Bush will be out of office in just a few days. But his legacy, through the appointments of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, will illuminate our jurisprudence for years to come. And that's a very encouraging thought for such difficult times.
- Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1856).
- Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).
- Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000).
- Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003).
- McCreary County v. ACLU, 545 U.S. 844 (2005).
- Van Orden v. Perry, 544 U.S. 677 (2005).
- Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005).
- U.S. CONST. art. I, § 3, cl. 6.
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