Check out Arizona Senator John McCain's stated reasons for his pending no-vote against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
One word that comes to mind is hypocrisy. Here's part of what the defeated 2008 presidential candidate (that's him in the infamous debate photo) on the floor of the Senate yesterday:
"Again and again, Judge Sotomayor seeks to amend the law to fit the circumstances of the case, thereby substituting herself in the role of a legislator. Our Constitution is very clear in its delineation and disbursement of power. It solely tasks the Congress with creating law.
"It also clearly defines the appropriate role of the courts to extend to all Cases in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties. To protect the equal, but separate roles of all three branches of government, I cannot support activist judges that seek to legislate from the bench. I have not supported such nominees in the past, and I cannot support such a nominee to the highest court in the land."
Wait a tick, John...
We remember a Yale Law School study published a few years ago, before Dubya appointed Justices John Roberts and Sam Alito. It claimed that, by a wide margin, Justice Clarence Thomas was the justice most likely to vote to overturn a law passed by Congress. Thomas voted that way two-thirds of the time.
That's the definition of "judicial activism," the buzzphrase of the Right when referring to allegedly "left-wing" jurists. For the record, McCain cast his vote for Justice Thomas, as well as the Bush II appointees, neither of whom have become known for their reticence in opposing congressional actions.
If Thomas could have his way, he would end the American with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, minimum wage laws, and a host of other statutes passed over the last half-century or so by Congress. He is the epitome of an "activist" judge.
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But it seems that a "judicial activist" is someone who doesn't subscribe to your own (ever flip-flopping, in Senator McCain's case) points of view.
Interestingly, McCain recently told an interviewer that Republicans "have to do a lot more" to appeal to the growing Latino voter base. "We have a lot of work to do there," McCain said. "We have a very, very deep hole that we've got to get out of."
Casting his vote against Judge Sotomayor won't help the GOPers get out that hole, but the senator does have other fish to fry. He will be facing competition for reelection in next year's Republican primary from Chris Simcox, the anti-illegal-immigration Minuteman leader who has held vigil against Mexicans on the border for years.
McCain's vote against Sotomayor surely won't hurt him with Simcox's "constituency."