Results for category "Legislating from the Courts"

Barack Obama and the Supreme Court

John Paul Stevens, nearly 90 years old and 35 years on the Supreme Court, retires this summer.  He was appointed by Gerald Ford, moderate Republican President following the scandals of Richard Nixon.   It is an interesting and sad fact that Republican Presidents have often been unpleasantly surprised when their Court nominees rule from the Left rather than the Center or the Right.   Dwight Eisenhower said the worst mistake of his life was naming Earl Warren as Chief Justice.    President Ford did not expect the mild of manner, bow tied Stevens to be a Radical.   Perhaps the most infuriating was Justice Souter appointed by President H.W. Bush.   This was especially grievous when there were several brilliant conservative judges available.    Fortunately Souter did not take up space on the Court for 35 years.

On the other hand, Democrat Presidents do not seem to suffer with, in Souter’s case, a total double cross.   It is true that Colorado’s own Byron White was more conservative than Jack Kennedy anticipated but Kennedy was a very sensible Democrat with mainstream views.   But most Democrat Presidents have been able to count upon loyal Left Wing Court votes.   I give you Bill Clinton’s Justices, Ginsburg and Breyer.

Now Barack Obama has his second chance at the Court.    Fortunately, while this will be a Justice who makes law from the Court they will be replacing another of the same ilk.   The balance will not  change much but this will be a younger version of Stevens who will likely be there for years.    Let us pray that the more conservative members of the Court stay through Obama’s (hopefully) one term.   This illustrates again the importance of elections and why 2010 is critical.

It is a long shot but if the Republicans are able to take over the Senate they can block Justices that are too far to the Left.   On the Conservative side Ronald Reagan faced this with the failure of the Robert Bork nomination.   During the years of  Bush 43 the Democrats began to filibuster Court nominees.   This was a new and unseemly tactic.   Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked if Republicans might do this in the future.   The Senator from KY said this was possible as Democrats had shown the way with this method.

It would be well if all this became academic with the election of enough Republicans to the Senate in 2010  to change the balance of power.   If they are Conservative GOP members all the better.   And then let us sweep the field in 2012 with a Republican President as well.

Is it that important?   On November 6, 1988, George Will submitted a column entitled “5,000 Reasons for Voting for George Bush.”
The 5,000 are the appointments a President makes to fill various government posts.   Then George Will zeroed in on three of those thousands–the then three 80 year old Supreme Court Justices, Harry Blackmun, William Brennan, and Thurgood Marshall.   George Will rightly felt that Bush would replace some of these liberals on the Court.  He went on to say that  “almost the entire public agenda seems to pass through the courts.  It is urgent that new Justices reverse this tendency.”

Thomas Jefferson said he feared tyranny from the unelected judiciary more than that which might spring from the executive or the legislative as those two branches would cancel each other out.   Yes!   It is that important.

Eutychus