Justice John Paul Stevens turns 88 in April, and one or two more liberal justices are candidates for retirement over the next four years. Thus, the next president will likely have the historic opportunity to create a working majority on the Supreme Court that will respect genuine principles of judicial restraint and that will restore the Court to its proper role in our constitutional system-most especially, by ending the Court's power grab on abortion policy.
If John McCain wins the Republican nomination, he needs to rally conservatives by showing that he understands the importance of making strong Supreme Court nominations, and of using all the capital necessary to win the confirmation fights. Words matter. It would be good to hear lots of strong praise for Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, as well as a promise to defeat the unprecedented spectacle of a Democratic filibuster. Personnel also matters. McCain needs to surround himself with top advisers (including those drawn from other campaigns, like Ted Olson) who have a demonstrated commitment to judicial conservatism — and to shed those who don't — and he needs to select a vice presidential candidate (Fred Thompson?) whose record is also strong.
— Edward Whelan is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and is a regular contributor to NRO's “Bench Memos” blog . His views are his own only and are not intended to represent the views of the organization with which he is affiliated.