For the past year, Republicans have been trying
to explain to us small-government advocates why we should vote for George W.
Bush. But since Mr. Bush has no plans to reduce government or improve our lives
in any significant way, Republicans have had only one argument: he isn't Al
Gore. ("You don't want Al Gore in the White House, do you?")
But after seeing the Republican convention --
with its theme, "big government can be compassionate government" -- it
turns out that George Bush is Al Gore after all.
Since George Bush loves big government as much
as Al Gore does, Republicans have had to find another reason for us to choose
Bush over Gore. So they remind us that the next President may select as many as
three or four new Supreme Court judges.
"Do you want Al Gore choosing those
judges?" they ask.
The Supreme Court is a favorite Republican
whipping boy. They blame the court for many of today's ills -- hoping we'll
ignore the role of the big-spending Reagan and Bush administrations and the
pork-obsessed, over-regulating, power-hungry Republican Congress.
They neglect to mention that Republican
presidents appointed seven of the nine judges on the court they love so much to
hate. They expect us to jump at the chance to vote for a president who will
undoubtedly appoint more judges like Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, and
And they ignore the fact that even their
favorite judges -- Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia -- often ignore the plain
meaning of the Constitution in an effort to impose their own values on America.
Picking a Supreme Court judge
We have bad Supreme Court judges because bad
presidents have chosen them. And the court won't be improved by electing another
big-government president -- whether his name is Al Gore or George Bush.
Every modern Supreme Court justice decides
constitutional questions by referring to something other than the plain language
of the Constitution. They invoke "original intent," a "living
Constitution," "penumbras," "the greater good," or the
"compelling interest" of government. In so doing, they demonstrate
that they're unqualified to sit on the Supreme Court.
What should be the proper qualifications of a
Supreme Court judge? Should the president apply a litmus test in choosing
Yes, he should. If I become president, I will
ask six simple questions of any potential judge.
The First Amendment says,
Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of
And yet, when Congress or a legislature makes a
law censoring the Internet, restricting political advocacy, prohibiting
cigarette advertising on TV, or barring hate speech, the judges don't strike it
down automatically. They deliberate to determine whether the government has a
"compelling interest" in regulating speech or the press.
But the First Amendment says, "Congress
shall make no law. ..."
It doesn't speak of the government's
"compelling interest" or provide for any exceptions or qualifications.
It says very simply, "Congress shall make no law. ..."
So the first question I would pose to any
potential Supreme Court judge is:
1. Can you read?
If the prospect can pass a reading test, we can
move on to the second question:
2. What do the words "Congress shall
make no law" mean?
The Second Amendment says:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to
the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,
shall not be infringed.
Again, no exceptions or qualifications are
given. So my next question is:
3. What do the words "shall not be
And on from there:
4. Do the thousands of gun laws now on the
books infringe in any way whatsoever on the "right of the people to keep
and bear arms"?
The Ninth Amendment says:
Nowhere in the Constitution is the government
given the power to take away your right to privacy, your right to defend
yourself, your right to keep your property, your right to choose your own
retirement program, or in fact any other right.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of
certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by
So my next question is:
5. What rights do the people no longer have,
and where in the Constitution were those rights taken from the people?
The 10th Amendment says:
My final question will be:
The powers not delegated to the United States
by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
States respectively, or to the people.
6. Where in the Constitution was it
delegated to the United States government the power to interfere in education,
health care, law enforcement, welfare, charity, corporate welfare, or any of the
many other areas that form a part of today's overbearing, over-regulating,
over-expensive federal government?
These six questions will tell me all I need to
know about the kind of judge a potential nominee would be.
The Constitution isn't written in Chinese,
Swahili, or Esperanto. It is in plain English. We don't need anyone to translate
or interpret for us. It isn't even necessary to study the history of the
adoption of the Constitution, since there's nothing mysterious about its words.
Phrases like "make no law" or
"shall not be infringed" or "retained by the people" or
"reserved to" are comprised of everyday words that require no search
for "original intent" or "penumbras."
The Constitution means what it says it means --
or it means nothing at all. And any judge who overrules the plain English of the
Constitution is no judge at all -- whether he's been appointed by a Republican
or a Democrat.
Will either Al Gore or George Bush choose
judges on the basis of their respect for the plain words of the Constitution?
Of course not. They both believe in big
government. They both believe your leaders know what's best for you.
Neither of them thinks of you as a sovereign
individual with inalienable rights he should leave alone. And neither of them
intends to have his grand plans for a Brave New World derailed by the plain
words of the Constitution.
Al Gore doesn't want a Supreme Court judge who
will strike down his vision for federal pre-school programs. George Bush doesn't
want a judge who will strike down his vision of federal school vouchers.
Neither of them wants judges who will keep him
from meddling in education or violating the Constitution in any other way. Quite
So why should you think you'll be any freer
with a Bush Supreme Court than one selected by Al Gore? Do you believe George W.
Bush -- who hasn't proposed a single reduction in big government -- is
determined to keep the government's nose out of your business?
I don't think so. He can't wait to get his
hands on the reins of power so he can use your tax money to promote his favorite
charities. He can't wait to impose his concept of a good society on you.
What Do You Want?
Do you want smaller government?
If so, you will never get it so long as you
support those who are making government bigger. You will never get it by
inventing excuses to vote for those who are working to make government more
expensive, more intrusive, more oppressive.
If you vote Republican or Democratic, you're
giving up. You're saying there's no hope you'll ever be free, and so you're just
going to make the best of a bad bargain -- by voting for the person who will
take you to Hell at the slowest rate.
If you want freedom, you must vote for freedom
-- not for big government. When you do so, you may not get what you want this
year. But you're paving the way to get freedom in your lifetime -- and maybe
even in this decade.
But with the Republicans and Democrats, you'll never
get what you want. Instead, you, your children, and your grandchildren will face
an ever-larger, more intrusive government.
To get freedom, you have to vote for it -- for
candidates who are unconditionally for smaller government, with no exceptions
and no excuses.
Harry Browne is running for
President of the United States as a Libertarian candidate in 2000. More of
his articles can be found at http://www.HarryBrowne.org