Friday :: Feb 11, 2005

Ordering The Court


by pessimist

The People For The American Way reminded me today that there is a very vital issue facing the American people, and it isn't Social Security. It's the naming of a replacement Supreme Court.

William Rehnquist, the current Chief (in)Justice, is ailing and isn't likely to last much longer, which leads to the frightening prospect of either 'Uncle' Clarence Thomas - or worse, his leash holder Nino the Fixer - being named as Rehnquist's replacement.

But wait! That's not all! Fail to act now, and you might also get some homegrown fascists such as these to replace the ailing John Paul Stevens [a tip of the titanium tam o'shanter to commenter SP - ed.] and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and the seeking-to-retire, occasionally moderate Sandra Day O'Connor. We also can't rule out that age will catch up with Justices Suter, Kennedy, and Breyer, although none of them currently is reported to be suffering from anything significant.

One thing I noted from reading the last linked post, was that there seems to be an element resembling nepotism in these selections.

Potential Supreme Court Nominees [excerpted - there are more than I list here - ed.]

Samuel A. Alito Jr., a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia who has been nicknamed "Scalito" because he has views similar to those of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

J. Michael Luttig, put on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., by President Bush's father. Clerked for Scalia when Scalia was an appeals court judge.

That takes care of Scalia's groupies. Now we'll cover those who puppy-dog the other 'justices':

John Roberts, a former Rehnquist clerk named by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Larry Thompson, who was deputy attorney general and the Bush administration's highest-ranking black law-enforcement official until he quit in 2003 to join a think tank, Brookings Institution. He is a longtime friend of Justice Clarence Thomas.

Miguel Estrada, a native of Honduras whose nomination to an appeals court was also blocked by Democrats. He's a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Now we'll look at the house staff of the Bu$h family:

Edith Jones, a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and former general counsel for the Texas Republican Party. Bush's father considered her for the high court.

Theodore B. Olson, who was Bush's solicitor general until this summer and represented him in the 2000 Bush v. Gore case. Olson's wife, Barbara, was killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Emilio Miller Garza, judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Bush's father, the first President Bush, considered the Hispanic judge a Supreme Court prospect.

Lastly, we'll look at someone who really should be behind bars instead of practicing at one:

James Harvie Wilkinson III, judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and author of a decision that gave the government broad authority to hold U.S. citizens as enemy combatants without constitutional protections. The ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court.

With such a cast of characters, the People For The American Way have this to say:

We could lose our fight against a right-wing Supreme Court takeover before a vacancy and nomination occur – even as early as this month. This threat comes in the form of the “nuclear option” being considered by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and being pushed by the Religious Right, who would like President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees to be rubber stamped.

The target of the nuclear option is the 200-year-old tradition of the Senate filibuster, the tool that empowers 41 or more senators to prevent a narrow majority from abusing its power – and one of the only ways to encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation and compromise on important issues.

If the filibuster is eliminated, Bush, Cheney and 50 senators could steamroll up to four new justices onto the Court – enough to create a right-wing majority. Frist needs the votes of half the Senate plus Vice President Cheney’s tie-breaker to succeed in this bare-knuckles move to eliminate the filibuster. That means we must win the votes of all 44 Democratic senators, the one Independent, and at least six courageous Republicans to stop him.

thoughtfully, PFAW provides a list of 18 senators - ALL REPUBLICANS - who might be reached to act in the interests of the nation and not the corporatist sonsors of their party:


* Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska)
* Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
* Sen. John McCain (Arizona)
* Sen. Richard Lugar (Indiana)
* Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa)
* Sen. Pat Roberts (Kansas)
* Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine)
* Sen. Susan Collins (Maine)
* Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss)
* Sen. Chuck Hagel (Nebraska)
* Sen. John Sununu (NH)
* Sen. Pete Domenici (NM)
* Sen. Mike DeWine (Ohio)
* Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio)
* Sen. Gordon Smith (Oregon)
* Sen. Arlen Specter (Penn)
* Sen. Lincoln Chafee (RI)
* Sen. John Warner (Virginia)

Many of these senators have voiced opposition to various Bu$hCo initiatives, so there is some reason for hope that enough of these could be reasoned with. But there would also have to be no defections from the Democratic ranks, which - sadly - we can't count on happening. Too many Democratic senators are in reality DINOs, and maybe haven't changed their party registrations due to local demographics.

Thus, it will be a close vote in any case, assuming that many of these senators vote their consciences and not their party lines. It won't matter much to them, I'm sure, for they won't have to live under the Court they confirm.

But their children will.

I hope they can sleep well knowing this, because I can't.


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pessimist :: 12:34 PM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!