In a floor speech explaining his opposition to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) attacked her for refusing the endorse the frivolous argument that unelected judges should strike down the health care law enacted by elected representatives:
I was also troubled by a couple of other areas . . . One has to do with the power of the federal government and I had mentioned a moment ago. Under the commerce clause of the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court has previously basically given the federal government almost limitless powers and we’ve seen that play here in the debate over the individual mandate in the health insurance bill . . . But Solicitor General Kagan did not seem to recognize that the federal government’s powers are one of enumerated powers delegated by — delegated by the states and by the people.
Just a few minutes earlier, however, Cornyn ranted against judges who have the audacity to substitute their views for those of elected Members of Congress:
If we don’t like the way Congress – the law congress makes, well, congress, of course, is free to change it. And if we the people still don’t like the way Congress writes the law when they refuse to respond to the will of the people, we have a right to replace Members of Congress. That’s the way a democracy runs, not by a judge dictating to us what he or she thinks is good for us.
This is not the first time Cornyn set the landspeed record for self-contradiction. During Kagan’s confirmation hearing, Cornyn insisted that precedents he approves of are sacred, while precedents he disagrees with are a blasphemy that must be overruled. Moreover, Cornyn’s view that the law and the Constitution mean whatever he wants it to mean is all too common among conservatives. Most famously, Chief Justice Roberts promised “to have the humility to recognize that [judges] operate within a system of precedent” when he was up for confirmation, only to spend his entire time as Chief Justice ignoring precedents that conservatives don’t like.
In other words, Cornyn and Roberts are taking a page out of Henry Ford’s playbook. The American people can have whatever kind of laws they want — so long as they’re conservative.