Because judicial decisions have propelled American history, and because a long-standing judicial mistake needs to be rectified, the most compelling of the many reasons for electing Mitt Romney is that presidential elections shape two of the federal government’s three branches. Conservatives, however, cannot coherently make the case for Romney as a shaper of the judicial branch until they wean themselves, and perhaps him, from excessive respect for judicial “restraint” and condemnation of “activism.”

In eight years, Ronald Reagan appointed 49 percent of the federal judiciary; Bill Clinton appointed 43 percent. Clint Bolick says the power to nominate federal judges has become “the grand prize in presidential elections,” because presidents now choose appointees with special attention to judicial philosophy, and because human longevity has increased.