A bright-line rule is a clearly-defined rule or standard, composed of objective factors, which leaves little or no room for varying interpretation.
Such a bright line was made clear when first Senator Sasse, and then Senator Coons, spoke at the hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
As part of what was perhaps the most eloquent explanation that I have ever heard of the philosophical foundation of our nation, Senator Sasse rationalized exactly why a judge’s duty is to rule in strictly in accordance with law that was enacted by the people through a legislative body.
He made clear that it was a violation of the spirit of our fundamental law for judges to insert themselves into policy decisions.
In his words, freedom is the great gift of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and freedom is jeopardized by judges that would supplant the people’s proxies that are legislators. His passion was for Originalist Justices, jurists who strictly interpret law under the color of the Constitution and its amendments. And his words undercut the misplaced logic that the judiciary is somehow enabled to create new policy in accordance with their own political beliefs by interpretation, modification, or bending of law.
Taking a contrary stance Senator Coons proceeded to lay out 120 cases, precedents if you will, crafted over the years not in the legislative process, by an activist judiciary. He expressed trepidation that a Supreme Court majority of Originalist Justices would overturn these precedents and end the practice of legislating from the bench. And he tried to make the case that it was only fair that a Justice willing to be pro-active in response to liberal mores be appointed, much as Justice Ginsburg was, to keep the liberal temperament of the Court intact.
Therein lies a current bright line. Sasse’s belief that American success is derived by freedom of the individual from government and protected by the elected representatives of the people, versus Coons’ belief setting aside concern for individual freedom in favor of a collective good empowered not by legislative action, but by judicial edict.
Senator Coons was concerned that the constitutionally illegitimate foundation of his liberal philosophy would be eroded by the application of principles deeply ensconced in the Constitution. Equally concerned was Senator Sasse that Americans would continue to lose their precious individual freedom under the heel of judges legislating from the bench.
Freedom, freedom is the key to American prosperity. Freedom from government is the reason millions flock to our shores, no one tries to get into Russia, Venezuela, or China, but they always want to get here because America offers freedom that the others do not. And that individual freedom is the vision Senator Sasse presented in his defense of our American heritage.
Over the years Senator Coons and his Party have been unable to persuade Americans to exchange their personal freedom for a collectivist vision, so he and his ilk have used the courts to do it for them. What Senator Coons promotes has been the backdoor path to circumvent the time-tested principle, envisioned by our Constitution and effectively applied since the 18th century, of the division of powers within our government. Only now Senator Coons recognizes that the great pendulum that is the thinking of the American people has swung away from what his Party has relied upon. They know only too well that that change in philosophy will portend the end of the strangle hold on power that he and his friends have held over Americans, especially poor Americans, for a century or so.
Now it must be hard for the Democrats to rationalize that the people’s rejection of the eight years of Barrack Obama was what brought about the election of Donald Trump. I suppose that that is why we have seen nothing from Democrats in Congress except resistance and mis-guided efforts to delegitimize the presidency. But in 2016 Americans also saw a bright line and opted to reject the ideas that Obama and Democrats promoted. The bright line then was emphasized by Donald Trump’s promise to safeguard freedom from government intrusion by reducing government power over citizens. A promise that he kept, to the great discontent of the “Washington Swamp”.
The voice of the American voter in 2016 has assured that President Trump’s tenure will have long lasting significance. That significance will take the form of a Supreme Court that accepts the conviction that America is a nation of laws and that laws are created by the legislative bodies, not the courts. Not what the Democrats want to hear, but what the American people voted for. Yes, President Obama, elections do have consequences.
As Senator Sasse made clear, it is all there right there in our fundamental law, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Two documents that enshrine liberty and freedom against the tyranny of government, even when propped up by a judiciary that has intentionally or unintentionally been used to undermine their great significance.