The second Souter's replacement was named, I just knew. I knew that I was going to get some Grade A material out of the ensuing pantular soiling on the right. Knowing that the grass is always greenest where large numbers of animals are crapping, I headed directly to TownHall to choose among the (literally) 30+ columnists who chose to bloviate about Sonia Sotomayor this week. Way to book first-class passage on the RMS Obvious with your choice of topics, kids! Anyway, I freely admit to creating something of a straw man by picking the most egregiously retarded column (Terry Jeffery, who may be a NASCAR driver, provides us with "Apply a Litmus Test to Sotomayor") but trust me, they are all missing a chromosome or two. And you know as well as I do that the phrase "litmus test" can mean only one thing: batten down the hatches and prepare to weather the high winds of Hurricane Fuckin' Awesome.

Conservatives in the Senate should not treat Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in the same disgraceful manner that Senate liberals treated Clarence Thomas when he was nominated to the court in 1991

Yes, by confirming him. There were only 43 Republicans in the Senate when Thomas was nominated, T-Bone! And two of them frickin' voted against him! So we call him Justice Thomas today because of the 11 Democrats who confirmed him.

But it's easy to poke holes in arguments if you remember what happened. I'm being unfair.

but they should subject her to a similar philosophical litmus test.

Oh man, what a teaser! This is going to be awesome. They oughta sell tickets to Terry Jeffery's Awesome Argument. We need commercials like those monster truck extravaganzas. Terry Jeffery (Jeffery! Jeffery!) is going to BLOW. YOUR. MIND (mind! mind!) with the brutal power of his rhetorical (*switch to extra-deep voice*) SKILLLLLLLLLLLLZ! It's one day only! One day only! Tickets only FIVE BUCKS! We'll sell you the whole seat…BUT YOU'LL ONLY USE THE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDGE!

It is this simple: Does she believe the Constitution includes a "right" to kill an unborn child?

Very objective question wording, shooter. Let's try to divine her opinion on terror suspects by asking, "Do you believe the Constitution protects the brown Islamic hordes as they attempt to murder your children and invade our borders to rape our Christian women?"

If she does, she is morally and philosophically unqualified to serve on the court

That's "Court." Also, a fine literalist like Terry can surely point to the part of the Constitution which details the Moral and Philosophical qualifications for serving on the Court. They're clearly stated in Article III, Section Terry Jeffery Made This Shit Up.

and conservatives should say so and vote against her for that reason.

They will. All 40 of them.

When President George H.W. Bush nominated then-U.S. Appellate Court Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, Democratic Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was unapologetic: He would subject Thomas to an explicit pro-abortion litmus test.

Senator Metzenbaum voted against Thomas, as was his right. He was one of the 48 "nays." Out of 100.

"I'm through reading tea leaves and voting in the dark," said Metzenbaum. "I will not support yet another Reagan-Bush Supreme Court nominee who remains silent on a woman's right to choose and then ascends to the court to weaken that right."

And then Howard Metzenbaum used his powers to dissolve the Senate and banish Thomas to the land of wind and ghosts. The seat was eventually filled by Judge Pennyroyal T. Wombscraper, who actually performed abortions on the bench while listening to oral arguments. During her confirmation hearing, Senator Metzenbaum presented a pregnant teen and told the judge "If you don't perform an abortion on this underage, mentally unstable woman right the fuck now you are not going to be confirmed."

I remember that.

(snip: redundant quotes from Pat Leahy and Joe Biden which make the same point)

Thomas dodged (Biden's question). "Senator," he said, "I think that the Supreme Court has made clear that the issue of marital privacy is protected, that the state cannot infringe on that without a compelling interest, and the Supreme Court, of course, in the case of Roe v. Wade has found an interest in the woman's right to — as a fundamental interest — a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. I do not think that at this time I could maintain my impartiality as a member of the judiciary and comment on that specific case."

Sounds pretty standard for confirmation hearings, assmaster. Senators mug for the cameras and ask loaded questions while the nominee – wisely and appropriately – refuses to comment on precedent or to rule on hypothetical cases. Just because Bork droned on for hours, monotonously lecturing the nation with every legal thought that ever crossed his mind, doesn't mean that other nominees should follow suit.

Despite this dodge, Senate Democrats clearly suspected that Thomas embraced an "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution and would be disinclined to sustain Roe v. Wade.

(before they voted to confirm him)

Lacking the votes to defeat him for his judicial philosophy, however, they viciously attempted to assassinate his character.

Who's "they?" I don't recall the Democrats doing anything but calling to testify a subordinate Federal employee of Thomas during his time at the EEOC, a woman who alleged in detail a pattern of behavior in violation of numerous Federal laws. Sexually harrassing a female employee would speak rather prominently to Thomas's attitudes and belief system, no?

There I go remembering what happened again.

Led by the man who is now vice president of the United States, Judiciary Committee Democrats subjected Thomas to what Thomas called — to Joe Biden's face — "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves."

That's what Thomas called it. What the Supreme Court called it, in Meritor v. Vinson (1986), is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Thomas survived Biden's lynch mob

Howard Metzenbaum: Northerner, Liberal, Jew, and Klansman.

and went on to become the most consistent and forceful voice on the court for interpreting the Constitution according to the meaning originally invested in it by the Framers.

Wait. What?

I can understand if you're not happy with his confirmation hearings, wondernuts, but "forceful"? The man who can sit through three years of oral arguments without asking a single question? The man whose judicial philosophy is "What Anton said."? The man whose evidence of intellectual dynamism is to claim that the idea of precedent simply doesn't exist and thus the Court should re-examine 200 year-old decisions like Calder v. Bull (1798)?

No, for realz. He actually argued that.

The correct answer to the question of whether the Constitution guarantees a "right" to kill an unborn child

Oh, good. T-Mac is taking some time from his busy writing schedule to let us know the "correct answer" to this complicated legal and moral question. Disband NARAL. Tell Randall Terry to find a new job. Abortion has been solved. How stupid we were to spend all that time and money debating it. All we had to do was ask Terry Jeffery.

was delivered by then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist in his dissenting opinion to Roe v. Wade itself. It was a resounding no.

Yep. It was a really resounding minority opinion. 7-2.

Rehnquist's argument was historically and intellectually unassailable

Yet somehow 7 of the most knowledgeable people on the Constitution, people hand-picked by the President and confirmed by the popularly-elected Senate, thought he was unequivocally full of happy horseshit.

unless you believe that a simple majority of the nine Supreme Court justices has the authority to rewrite the Constitution.

Which part did they re-write? No, they didn't amend it. They interpreted it, which is their job.

When the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, Rehnquist noted, there were 36 state and territorial laws on the books restricting abortion. Twenty-one of those very laws were still on the books and still enforced in 1973, when the court considered Roe.

And every state had laws on the books forbidding women from voting. Does that imply that the 14th Amendment was not intended to provide women equal protection under the law? Someone clarify this please.

"The only conclusion possible from this history," said Rehnquist, "is that the drafters did not intend to have the Fourteenth Amendment withdraw from the states the power to legislate in respect to this matter."

Yep. It implies exactly that. Flawless logic.

Sonia Sotomayor should be asked in her confirmation hearing whether she believes the Constitution guarantees a right to kill an unborn child.

Yeah, you already said that. Twice. In an 800-word column. This is the third time. Somehow, in violation of common sense and several laws of thermodynamics, it's actually getting dumber each time you say it.

If she says it does, it means she believes Supreme Court justices have the power to change the meaning of the Constitution itself, even to the point of depriving a whole class of human beings of their most fundamental right.

Boy, it would be pretty embarrassing to this argument if the Catholic nominee in question had ever ruled something like "The government is free to favor the antiabortion position over the pro-choice position and can do so with public funds." (Center for Reproductive Law v. Bush)

There can be no better reason for denying confirmation to a would-be justice.

None better? What if she wasn't an American citizen? What if she was guilty of sexual harrassment? What if she operated a child sex ring out of her garage? What if her basement is full of Chinese slaves forced to pirate DVDs of Chicago Hope and rebroadcast Major League Baseball without expressed written consent?

Words like "always" or "never" in the hands of stupid people and shitty writers are like giving a baby a hand grenade. That they will fumble around with it until disaster strikes is inevitable. T-Jeff is the audience to keep in mind as a small portion of the Senate GOP goes through the motions of stomping its feet, crying like a boatload of seasick orphans, and hurling their best late-period William Jennings Bryan populist-fundamentalist rhetoric at the nominee the cameras. As soon as Jeffery and his ilk are suitably enamored with their heroes (Inhofe, Hatch, etc.) and able to plausibly argue that the Christian Right has Done All it Can to stand up to godless liberalism, the Senate can get on with the business of conducting the kind of "up-or-down vote" that Our Dearly Departed Leader so loved for the past eight years.