Marriage is love.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

E. J. Dionne Jr: Let's Have This Fight

Should a temporary majority of 50.7 percent have control over the entire United States government? Should 49.3 percent of Americans have no influence over the nation's trajectory for the next generation?

Those are the stakes in the coming fight over the next Supreme Court justice. The much-maligned "outside groups" preparing for battle over President Bush's choice deserve credit for openly acknowledging this struggle for power.

Speaking from Denmark on Wednesday, Bush couldn't resist a knock at "special-interest groups" for exploiting the court debate on behalf of "their own fundraising capabilities." Okay, shame on them for raising all that money. But these groups -- left and right -- are fighting because they know how much this matters.

Paradoxically, that's why the White House is telling its right-wing allies to shut up. It's not just that the president is understandably peeved over conservative attacks on his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales. By being so vocal, the conservative groups are making clear what the administration would like to obscure: that this is a political and philosophical choice. We are deciding whether one ideological orientation will hold sway over all three branches of the federal government.

That means that the most important questions for senators to ask a nominee have to do with his or her philosophy. It is preposterous to rule such questions out of bounds. It's also hypocritical.