On to the S. Court Nomination

Now that the Notre Dame controversy is behind us, we can move on to something non-controversial like President Obama’s upcoming Supreme Court nomination. I am on record supporting Al Gore because his nomination would acknowledge, if not rectify, the supreme injustice done to him in Bush v. Gore. But, I recognize that Gore’s age and lack of a law degree make this pick unlikely.

Almost all the other names being suggested were, until yesterday, unknown to anyone outside the legal community. The idea of selecting a Latina like appellate court judge Sonia Sotomayor appeals to people because the selection would add another chapter in America’s fine history of inclusionary politics. And, temperamentally, she sounds like the kind of woman who would go toe-to-toe with Justice Antonin Scalia. But, let’s be honest. We have no idea how she will turn out, what her jurisprudence will look like. If you doubt it, ask Papa Bush if he got what he bargained for in selecting David Souter?


The nomination process has morphed in recent years. This morning’s Post has an op-ed by Ed Gillespie, former head of the Republican National Committee, who played a key role in the confirmation hearings for both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Gillespie says that Democrats changed the rules in the Bush years, believing that it was okay to question "a judge’s philosophy, ideology and record," as then-Sen. Barack Obama said.

Gillespie contrasts this with what he believes were the pristine judgments of the GOP in the Clinton years. He quotes Sen. Orrin Hatch: "If a nominee is experienced in the law, highly intelligent, of good character and termperament, and – most important – gives clear and convincing evidence that he or she understands and respects the proper role of the judiciary in our system of government, there mere fact that I might have selected a different nominee will not lead me to oppose the President’s nominee." Of course, the two words "proper role" are carrying a lot of water in that quote and Gillespie knows it.

It has never made sense to me that Senators are expected to vote to confirm someone with whom they disagree sharply unless they find out she smoked pot or that he failed to pay taxes for the nanny. There was a cat-and-mouse game that only had the effect of destroying some people’s personal reputations. If the reason you are searching for the personal dirt is to keep someone off the court because you disagree with their judicial philosophy, isn’t it better to just permit disagreement as a legitimate reason to oppose a nominee?

The other absurdity of the nomination process is the belief that a nominee should never comment on an issue that might come before the court. This allows them to avoid answering what they think about Roe v. Wade or Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. It is true that no nominee can predict the exact nature of the cases that will come before them, but they should be required to sketch out their general views on such landmark cases. Everyone has an opinion on Roe and we have a right to know what that is before voting to confirm.

I suspect President Obama will select someone in the mold of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer, a nominee with stellar credentials, piercing intellect and a left-leaning but essentially moderate track record. (Whatever you think of the Clinton years, I think everyone agrees that his Court picks were among his finest decisions.) And, just so, I suspect President Obama will have no problem with Republicans applying the standard he used in assessing Roberts and Alito. The main thing that changed between the Clinton’s and Bushs’s nominations was Ed Gillespie’s point-of-view.


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9 years 10 months ago
Ginsberg, a moderate? She thought Roe v. Wade was decided too narrowly, right? Mr. Winters, will you support a nominee who supports the current reading of Roe? This is where the rubber hits the road, really. Roe has been read and applied so radically that there can be no dialogue or compromise on the issue until it undergoes a radcal re-reading. If you are pledged to Obama's mission of finding 'common ground,' you must support only nominees who's judicial philosophy will make it possible.
9 years 10 months ago
It goes without saying that Obama's nominee will be fully supportive of Roe v Wade and the abortion regime, as are Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
9 years 10 months ago
What one nominee feels about Roe is irrelevant, since when given the chance to join Scalia and Thomas in overturning Roe, Kennedy, Alito and Roberts did not.  The majority to preserve Roe is still 7-2.  If the actuarial tables are at all valid, it will likely be 8-1 or 9-0 by the end of the Obama presidency. As importantly, it does not matter how the Republican Senators vote.  Unless there is Democratic opposition, the almost inevitable seating of Al Franken means that there is nothing the Republicans can do to stop, and precisious little they can do to delay, the confirmation of any of Obama's picks.  Any action they take will be for domestic consumption back in their states.  If they wish to appear idealogues, it is there right.  Politically, they will look more and more like the crazy old uncle at the family reunion if they do, but doing so may keep their fundraising going. The most troubling thing about this whole process will be the Republican fundraisers with their hands out, raising money to try to stop a nomination that cannot be stopped.  They will use alarmist rhetoric and appeals for the lives of the unborn, confident in the fact that most of the widows responding with checks don't know that Bush's two prize nominees declined to join a concurring opinion calling for the overturn of Roe.  Ever wonder why Cafardi and Kmiec supported Obama because Roe would never be overturned anyway? That's why.
9 years 10 months ago
What, you can't tell the difference between a good pander and policy?  He was running against Hillary Clinton.  Of course he would promise Planned Parenthood the world.  It was an easy pander, given the fact that there was no way FOCA was, or is, going to pass.  While many Demorcrats are more fiscally liberal than in years past, there are quite a few social conservatives in the caucus.  FOCA goes nowhere.
9 years 10 months ago
By the way, here is Barack Obama, promsing to sign the Freedom of Choice Act and to give Planned Parenthood everything it wants:  [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf0XIRZSTt8]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf0XIRZSTt8[/url] Yes, a worthy recipient of an honorary degree from Our Lady's University. 
9 years 10 months ago
Good points Michael; Winters and the other posters, talk about who they support/vote for ? You did point it out but I'll say again...Winters et al have more imput on American Idol winner than who is the next Supreme Court Justice. I first wondered about your comment about the Republican fundraising on this issue but if Winters and the other posters think they have'support and votes' maybe there is big sucker money in this process for the GOP. As the NBA creeps to the finals maybe these posters  will learn what a 'slam dunk' looks like..  
9 years 10 months ago
Frankly, the mere fact that Obama pandered to Planned Parenthood should be enough to disqualify him from any honors at any Catholic institution.  That is the moral equivalent of pandering to the Communist Party or the Nazi Party.  Planned Parenthood is an organization steeped in evil from its inception, with the blood of millions of innocents on its hands, just like the Nazis and the Communists.  But not to worry, apparently, because Obama was simply lying to Planned Parenthood in order to get their votes.   
9 years 10 months ago
Tom, I'm not going to defend Margaret Sanger.  Her racist attitudes were beyond contempt.  What I do question is whether it is either just or prudent to limit abortion in law before removing the economic realities that cause abortion, since doing so simply makes many families more desperate.  After the economic reasons for abortion are overcome, most clinics will not have the volume to operate and will close.  If there are no abortion clinics, no one will have any problem banning them.


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