Posts Tagged ‘stevens’

When Thinking About Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee, Just Remember the Law of 5

April 9, 2010

As I said in post last year when Justice Souter announced his retirement, I warned that putting a liberal Scalia on the bench would be an epic mistake.  In that post, I said the most important rule to remember is the “Law of 5,” referring to the proposition that Justice Brennan lived by–“You can do anything with 5 votes.”  What we have seen in the past decade is Justice Stevens take on the role once performed by Justice Brennan.  With a Court evenly dividend between the “liberal” and “conservative” Justice with Justice Kennedy in the middle on many votes, Justice Stevens used the “political” skills acquired over a career of 34 years to convince Justice Kennedy to side with the liberals rather than with the conservatives many times.  Using those skills, Justice Stevens was able to shape areas such as the War on Terrorism, Death Penalty jurisprudence and the environment.  He did this by making compromises on the legal basis for many decisions, narrowing the results others or using his power to assign the opinions to Kennedy to get Kennedy’s vote.

Did he win all of these battles?  No, just look at cases such as Bush v Gore or Citizens United v FEC.  But he did get a majority for more liberal results more times than could be thought possible given the fact that for most of the past 20 years,  7 of the 9 Justices (including himself) were appointed by Republican Presidents.  It is this skill over all others and over any specific ideology that will be missed most by liberals.  And it is the skill to convince 4 others to join you that President Obama should keep front and center as he makes his decision on whom to nominate.

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Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

April 9, 2010

Today,

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, announced on Friday that he would retire at the end of this term, setting up a confirmation battle over his replacement that is virtually certain to dominate the political scene this summer.

And the Republicans, even before he retired and well before President Obama nominated a successor, have threatened to filibuster his choice. It is going to be a fun summer.  I just hope that the President picks someone who has done of one of the following things: (1) stepped foot in a trial court and litigated cases, (2) worked for or before an administrative agency for a significant period of time or (3) worked in state government in a significant capacity such as being a legislator or a state court judge.  I think one of the worst things he could do was nominate someone who has only been a law professor or appellate judge.  I think having actually seen what it is like to be in the real world gives a person a perspective that is almost wholly lacking on the Court now.

Our Security vs. Our Ideals

April 30, 2009

“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.  Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake,” so said President Obama during his inauguration.

I have heard no more idealistic statement by a politician who actually held power since I started following politics more than 20 years ago.  It was such a refreshing view of our country’s dreams, hopes, and ideals, especially after 8 years of utter disgrace.

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