November's election for President of the United States also determines the future of the federal judiciary. Mississippians know the type of jurist they want on our federal courts. We also know what national Democrats think of such nominees.

President George W. Bush nominated Charles W. Pickering, Sr. to a post on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. National Democrats and special interest groups attacked, slandered, maligned, obstructed, and ultimately blocked his confirmation with a filibuster without ever giving him an up-or-down vote (on which he would have prevailed). Next President Bush nominated Mike Wallace to the Fifth Circuit and Democrats, without skipping a beat, re-launched their assault and obstruction machine. They continued against the next nominee as well, Leslie Southwick, but were unable to defeat him.

Pickering, Wallace, and Southwick believe in the Constitution; they believe we are a nation of laws and not of men; they believe role of a judge is to interpret the laws and Constitution as written, and not to legislate from the bench or impose their own beliefs and values onto others through their rulings.

Senator John McCain shares that perspective.

Last week in a speech on his judicial philosophy delivered at Wake Forest University, McCain promised if elected President: "I will look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint. I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist - jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference. My nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power, and clear limits to the scope of federal power. They will be men and women of experience and wisdom, and the humility that comes with both. They will do their work with impartiality, honor, and humanity, with an alert conscience, immune to flattery and fashionable theory, and faithful in all things to the Constitution of the United States."

McCain concluded, "Every federal court should be a refuge from abuses of power, and not the source. In every federal court in America, we must have confidence again that no rule applies except the rule of law, and that no interest is served except the interest of justice."

Sen. Barack Obama, who appears to be inching toward the Democratic nomination, told a very different philosophy to CNN in a recent interview: "What you're looking for is somebody who is going to apply the law where it's clear. Now there's gonna be those five percent of cases or one percent of cases where the law isn't clear. And the judge has to then bring in his or her own perspectives, his ethics, his or her moral bearings. And in those circumstance what I do want is a judge who is sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who can't have access to political power and as a consequence can't protect themselves from being being dealt with sometimes unfairly, that the courts become a refuge for justice. That's been its historic role. That was its role in Brown v. Board of Education."

Obama is a former constitutional law professor. He knows what he is saying. Obama believes a judge should interpret vague laws based on his own opinions, his own ethics, his own values, and weight those beliefs in favor of the underdog. That is the essence of liberal judicial activism.

I am a fan of the underdog; but, sometimes the underdog is wrong. I don't want a judge deciding an appeal against the overwhelming power of the United States Department of Justice just because the terrorist defendant has a pro-bono lawyer. A judge who enters a case predisposed toward the underdog does not provide justice. He nullifies fairness.

When the people elect Representatives and Senators to pass legislation reflecting their values and ethics and belief, that is called democracy. When a judge ignores those laws, overruling them because of his own ideology, that is called judicial tyranny.

Judges appealing to their own perspectives, ethics, and morals ruled in Dredd Scott v Sandford that blacks were not citizens; and judges seeking the law in themselves - as Obama advocates - ruled in Plessy v Ferguson to create separate but equal policies.

Some may say it is absurd to put Obama on the same side as these horrendous Supreme Court rulings. However, if activist judges had not ignored originalism in the former, nor disregarded the Fourteenth Amendment in the latter, America's journey to equality would have been achieved earlier.

When we become a nation of men and not laws, even if those men have good intentions, we have injustice.

Brian Perry of Jackson, a former congressional aide, is a partner in a public affairs and communications group and assisted Judge Charles Pickering in the writing of "Supreme Chaos: The Politics of Judicial Confirmation & The Culture War" and "A Price Too High: The Judiciary in Jeopardy." He can be reached at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms online.