Republican obstructionism today operates against the long-term erosion of American democracy, and it leaves government paralyzed in the fact of mounting national problems. That further erodes legitimacy and democracy itself. The hollowing out of democracy is reflected in the loss of confidence in public institutions, in the fact that big money has been crowding out citizen participation. Republicans have contributed to this trend by their money-is-speech ideology and by sponsoring measures that make it more difficult to vote -- reversing a two- century trend of expanding democracy. Meanwhile, ordinary people feel more and more alienated from both the economy and the system of government. So we have a constitutional crisis -- one party destroying the ability of the government to govern, combined with a crisis of our democracy at a time when we need government to act.
Republicans have announced that they will not consider any Supreme Court justice nomination that the president brings them. This is part of an ongoing Republican attack on our form of government. The country has been through years and years of Republican obstruction of everything government does. Why is that?
Defending the notion that the Constitution -- all of it -- has a fixed, determinable meaning would take more than a brief essay. My ambitions here are modest -- to offer a sketch of why judges whose authority is derived from the Constitution cannot perform their duty unless they share Scalia's conviction that, "Words have meaning. And that meaning doesn't change."