Federal district judges are so important to our social order that they must be confirmed by the United States Senate. Their job is to adjudicate cases involving federal law and to apply the United States Constitution, as well as federal statutes, to sometimes extremely complex issues.
The rulings of these judges, backed only by the authority of the United States Constitution, goes far beyond the litigation before them. Because of the extreme importance of these judges, the greatest deference and respect is shown them. They are selected from the intellectual elite of the nation who have chosen law as their specialty and usually go through a rigorous vetting to even be considered for a federal judgeship. They are nominated for confirmation by the President of the United States.
In addition to being at or near the top of their law school class, each nominee must know the United States Constitution inside and out. Each nominee must be fluent in its language and in US Supreme Court rulings that define and add dimension to almost every single word in the short document. They apply the US Constitution and rulings of US Supreme Courts to the controversy before them. These rulings often change our lives and sometimes the direction of the nation.
Last week, at a confirmation hearing in the Senate, one Senator asked this question: What is covered in Article V of the United States Constitution?
The answer: Nothing comes to mind.
Trying again he asked: What is covered in Article II of the United States Constitution?
The answer: Nothing comes to mind.
The document that any candidate for a federal judgeship is required to know does not come to mind?
I’m sure the chair of the committee examining this person immediately switched to the sophisticated manners required when someone has embarrassed him or herself in front of a United States Senate committee. After all, friends and relatives are in the audience; the Senator from the candidate’s home state has recommended this person for confirmation; and the President of the United States has agreed.
The hearing should have been shortened to avoid further humiliation and the utmost cordiality extended to the candidate. In just a few seconds of questioning it became apparent that this person is not qualified to hold such an important position.
Instead, the President said he would stand by this nominee. The President of the United States said he would stand by someone who cannot answer the simplest question regarding a crucial qualification for the position of federal district judge. The equivalent would be asking someone wanting tenure as a professor if he or she can spell “cat.”
So, what does this incident mean? It may mean:
- Either the candidate in this particular case attended a law school that did not properly educate or the candidate was deliberately mocking the United States Senate confirmation process.
- Other unqualified candidates for important positions of trust in the federal government are, in fact, in these positions.
- The United States Constitution is no longer respected as the Supreme Law of the Land. Article VI.
It might also mean that someone felt that the notion of equity applied to the selection of this candidate. Instead of the best and brightest, the concept of equity allows a lessor standard in the name of equal outcomes. In other words, the mediocre are entitled to the same outcome as the accomplished.
How have we come to this point in our history where excellence no longer matters? How have we come to this point in our history where the United States Constitution is no longer respected? We have come to this point by a thousand small cuts that, having merged, are now a gaping, gangrenous wound. Perhaps some we have elected – if not ourselves – have lost touch with fundamental elements of our DNA. Those undergirding elements include the notions that:
- Human beings are a reflection of the divine and owe a duty to their creator. This duty begins in childhood relative to one’s parents and extends to one’s teachers and ultimately to the nation. This duty is reflected in the Girl Scout Oath: On my honor, I will try, to do my duty to God and my country…
- There are objective truths that form the basis of our Moral and Positive Law. As Cicero tells us: [G]od is the author, expounder, and mover of this law; and the person who does not obey it will be in exile from himself.
- A moral core is essential to our persons as citizens and to the existence of our nation. [M]orality is the best security of law, and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom. Alexis de Tocqueville
Over time, some of our leaders and some of our citizens have broken faith with these essential elements of Americanism. To justify this fact it has become necessary for them to reject morality, to reject excellence, and to reject the Rule of Law as represented by the United States Constitution.
The thousand cuts cannot now be hidden from the majority of the American people.
What is your answer, we ask, to the foreign poisoning of our children? Nothing comes to mind.
What is your answer, we ask, to rising violent crime and anarchy? Nothing comes to mind.
What is your answer, we ask, to treasonous public corruption? Nothing comes to mind.
The only answer is for the majority of the American people to acknowledge the festering wound, (created with bipartisan effort), clean the wound out immediately no matter how painful, and re-commit to humility, duty, and morality in their own persons, in the persons of their children, and in their elected and appointed leaders. Simultaneously, they would re-acquaint themselves with the US Constitution and the philosophies behind it. This is what comes to mind.
(Article V is how we amend the Constitution. Article II is about the Presidency, including the Oath.)