The Republican counterargument will be fourfold: A) He is not very conservative; B) no one knows how conservative he is, and no one is going to find out, because discussing his views in any detail would involve "prejudging" future issues before the court; C) it doesn't matter whether he is conservative—even raising the question "politicizes" what ought to be a nonpartisan search for judicial excellence; and D) sure he's conservative. Very conservative. Who won the election?It's quite admirable of Kinsley to state those arguments clearly and fairly. He even talks about something I was just saying people need to address: the fact that there are different kinds of conservatives. He identifies three kinds:
First, conservatism can mean a deep respect for precedent and a reluctance to reverse established doctrines....He concludes:
Second, a conservative can mean someone who reads the Constitution narrowly and is reluctant to overrule the elected branches of government....
The third meaning of conservative as applied to judges is a conservative judicial activist: someone who uses the power of the courts to impose conservative policies, with or without the benefit of a guiding philosophy.
Judicial power is like government spending: People hate it in the abstract but love it in the particular. That makes an honest debate hard to have, and harder to win. Nevertheless, it would be nice to have one.Well said.