The next Supreme Court nominee should not be

What is a Federal Judge, Alex?

The more I read about Justice Alito's other worldly and totally detached from reality opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, the more I miss Sandra Day O'Connor and other supremes who were not ripped from the federal it were. O'Connor was a legislator and practical politician at heart who would have looked at this case and spotted it as one that should have been laughed out of court. She would have then instructed her clerks to translate her common sense opinion into legalese. Her successor on the court has done the opposite and has opened up a can of worms that will lead to endless litigation and, even worse, to federal judges ruling on what constitutes "a sincere religious belief." Doesn't sound very " conservative" to me.

One of the most endearing things about Bill Clinton's Presidency was his desire to appoint someone who had served in elected office to the Supreme Court. He wooed Mario Cuomo who, in classic fashion, played Hamlet and initially accepted but finally rejected the offer. Clinton, quite correctly, believed that many of the most distinguished Justices had never wielded a gavel before joining the High Court: Warren, Black, Douglas, Brandeis, and Frankfurter to name a few. 

With the exception of Justice Kagan, the current court is made up of lawyers who, for good or ill, have spent the majority of their careers on the bench and outside the hurly burly of American public life. The whole thing reminds me of a story about Lyndon Johnson and his mentor, Speaker Sam Rayburn. LBJ raved about the "best and brightest" who surrounded JFK and Mr. Sam said: "I'd feel better about those fellas if one of them had ever run for Sheriff."

Sam Alito has not only never run for Sheriff, he has no clue as to what life outside the judiciary is really like. I'm not sure exactly who President Obama or his successor should nominate, but no more judges please.

We miss you, Sandy, baby. Your appointment was the best thing Ronald Reagan ever did.

7 thoughts on “The next Supreme Court nominee should not be

  1. Ah, well, nostalgia serves well. In fact, O’Connor was only elected to legislative office once. She was appointed to the AZ Senate to fill a vacancy, was elected to the same office in 1973, and was gone by 1975, when she went to the AZ Superior Court as… wait for it… a judge. She was then appointed to the AZ state court of appeals, again as a judge. So, in her working years, thirty-one years were spent as a judge, and two as an elected legislative official.
    Despite an ambiguous record on abortion, she nonetheless voted for the sort of encroachments on abortion availability at the state level that have become so onerous over time, she showed, over her entire record, a remarkably conservative (and occasionally, mean) streak, much more often than not voting with William Rehnquist and, finally, she was the deciding vote in Bush v. Gore, for which no mea culpa is sufficient.
    She was a tremendously ideological and conservative judge who only seemed slightly less so by comparison with the truly radical jurists on the bench.

  2. Btw, I said federal judge but that’s nitpicking. But I disagree about her role on the court. She was conservative but a moderating force on her colleagues and very often prevented the RW judges from going too far. Plus, Alito is her replacement and every time he’s been the deciding vote on a common sense issue like this I miss her.

  3. Forgot something. On gender and church-state issues, O’Connor was a genuine moderate and often steered the others in a common sense direction. Read The Nine and you’ll learn that she came to regret Bush V Gore as well as considering W a disaster for the GOP and the country.

  4. Yes, that’s why I said no mea culpa was sufficient. Regrets don’t count–but her decisions do.

  5. Okay, so appoint Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court.
    I see a couple of possible outcomes: either Scalia has a massive coronary, in which case it’s an appointment twofer, OR Clinton’s charisma does its magic, and he and Scalia become best-buds, with a moderating influence on Scalia.

  6. NO, NO NO. O’Connor was the deciding vote in Bush v. Gore. She did us no favors.

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