It's the Constitution, Stupid

By Glenn BeckHost, "Glenn Beck"

As you may have heard me mention, I'm a flag collector. Not just any old flags, but American flags -- as in Old Glory. As a result, I know a thing or two about flag etiquette--the things you can and can't do with a flag...like step on it. Our flag is much more than a piece of cloth--it represents something much larger. When I look at a flag, I see more than stars on a field of blue and bands of red and white--I see the wisdom and sacrifice of those who built this country--who gave everything they had, including their very lives, to give birth to the greatest country the world had ever known.


We the people deserve better than Judge Sotomayor because regardless of how good a nominee may look on paper, it's the Constitution that matters first, last and always.

Some things in this country are sacred, and therefore we must never let them be trampled on. I feel the same way about our flag as I do our Constitution, and the Justices who have been charged with overseeing it.

According to Title 28, Chapter I, Part 453 of the United States Code, each Supreme Court Justice takes the following oath:

"I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."

It's amazing to me the enormous power a Justice is given by uttering just a few words, and they have that power for a lifetime (or until theychoose to step down). With that power comes great responsibility. After all, the Constitution hangs in the balance, and we need to make sure we never let it be trampled on. And that brings us to President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. I hate to ruin the ending of this column, but I think we the people deserve better.

I'm sure that Judge Sotomayor is a decent person--she was deemed worthy of praise and promotion by both Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. But that's not enough. Look at it this way--there are lots of doctors that can set a broken arm, but what if you needed open heart surgery...would just any of those arm-setting doctors do? Of course not. More to the point, what if the hospital where you were going to have your heart surgery done felt they needed more female doctors on staff, or more doctors of a certain ethnicity...ones with more "empathy?" Would meeting any of those criteria outweigh your desire for the best, most-qualified care? No way.

President Obama said Judge Sotomayor "is an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice," and added that she "has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice." Why sure--why don't we do away with the pesky confirmation proceeding and just get her a robe and a parking place right now?

Here's what worries a lot of people--and not just in Washington--about Judge Sotomayor. She's said some things in the past that suggest she may be interested in more than simply applying the rule of law. That ain't okay.

Back in 2005, Judge Sotomayor said, "The court of appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating -- it's interpretation, it's application." In case you're not freaked out by that, you should be. As Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, said in responding to Judge Sotomayor's thoughts, "It is the role of the highest court of the land -- the United States Supreme Court -- to say what the law is, and then it's the obligation of the lower courts to apply it. Courts of appeals are what I would call an error correction court. ... I think it is incorrect to say that their role is as a policymaker. It's up to the Supreme Court to make the ultimate decision."

Senator Cornyn also asked the $64,000 question: "The core question for members of the federal judiciary is how they see their role. Do they see their role as another branch of the legislature, but one that happens not to stand for election -- and a license, really, to impose their personal views and agenda on the American people, under the guise of interpreting the law and the Constitution?" That's a good question, and the only way we have of knowing what Judge Sotomayor may say in the future is what she has said in the past. That's as fair as you can get--we all have to live with our pasts, and Supreme Court Justices must be held to a higherstandard, not a lower one.

It's not some scary Republican/Conservative/Right Wing pessimistic theory that President Obama was looking for a nominee with gender and ethnicity as strong considerations. And that's a problem. See, I don't care if it's a woman or a man...a Hispanic or Asian...someone with "empathy" to spare or not. What I care about is that our country be given a caretaker of our Constitution that is interested in justice above and beyond anything else. Remember--we want the applicationof justice to be blind, so why should the appointmentof a justice be any less so?

Perhaps worst of all, during a speech at Berkeley in 2001, Judge Sotomayor said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." When asked for his response, Senator Cornyn said he doesn't know what that means, and I gotta' tell you--neither do I. But when someone starts making blanket statements on which ethnicity or gender would make better decisions because ofthat ethnicity or gender...well, a person like that wouldn't be welcome at my dinner table, let alone the highest court in my country.

The president says he wants a vote on Judge Sotomayor by August 7th, before Congress goes into recess. Many in Congress say that's not enough time...that they don't want to be rushed. This is too big a decision with consequences that most of us will have to live with for the rest of our lives.Besides those in Washington, we the people need to make sure this nomination is right for us. Because at the end of the day, it's the Constitution that matters most--once people lose faith in its protection andthe protection it provides us all...then nothing else will matter. Regardless of how good a nominee may look on paper, it's the Constitution that matters first, last and always.