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FIRST-PERSON: More important than tax cuts & healthcare

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–I appreciate the tax relief I have realized under President Bush. I appreciate that Senator Kerry wants to give me everything I cannot afford; my healthcare plan does lack in many ways.

However, neither of these issues is critical for me.

If we do not aggressively confront Islamic terrorists now, they will only grow more resolute in their hatred and more sophisticated in their methods.

It has become clear in the past few weeks that terrorist ire is not reserved for America. With the killing of innocent Nepalese and Turks, and the taking over of a school in Chechnya, it is clear that Muslim terrorists hate anyone who does not embrace their view of the world.

While I believe we are safer than we were prior to 9/11, we are far from safe. There is much that still remains to be done on the domestic front in the war against the terrorists.

Our borders are too porous and ports of entry too lax. Immigration laws must be strengthened and strictly enforced. Like it or not, racial profiling is a tool law enforcement must be allowed to utilize. If potential terrorists were 40-something pudgy preachers with pasty complexions, then I would gladly submit to greater scrutiny when traveling.

The next president likely will be presented with the task of making at least two appointments, perhaps even three, to the Supreme Court.

Justice John Paul Stephens is 84 years old and Justice William Rehnquist will be 81 in October. Justice Sandra Day O’Conner is 74 and has had a bout with cancer.

Supreme Court decisions in recent years have been at best schizophrenic. One case will find the court rendering a decision in keeping with the Constitution; in the next, the justices will discover rights never articulated in our country’s guiding document.

The reason for the judicial inconsistency is the justices’ view of the Constitution. The majority currently sitting on the Supreme Court believe the Constitution is a “living document” to be interpreted in the light of current cultural and/or political trends.

I believe the founders intended the Constitution to be an anchor that would keep the nation stable in the midst of the ebb and flow of popular culture. Judicial decisions should not be affected by trends, societal or political, but by what the Constitution clearly articulates.

The framers of the Constitution were wise enough to understand that society would develop over time. Hence they made provision for the Constitution to be amended. If the people of the United States believe change is warranted, the process is in place to bring it about. However, the people, not judges, should determine if and when the change should occur.

The next president should state in no uncertain terms what his criteria will be for selecting potential justices for the Supreme Court. Will he appoint judges with a history of interpreting the Constitution as to its original intent, or will he appoint justices with a record of viewing it as a document that is in flux?

So to the candidates I say, don’t try to buy my vote by appealing to my pocketbook.

Tell me, will you do everything necessary, even domestically, to deal with the threat of terrorists? Will you stop the Supreme Court’s schizophrenia by appointing justices who will interpret the Constitution according to its original intent?

The economy tends to run in cycles. However, the war against terrorists and Supreme Court justices will affect our lives for years to come and in more ways than we can imagine.
Kelly Boggs’ column appears each Friday in Baptist Press. He is pastor of the Portland-area Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs