Sunday, September 04, 2005

WILLIAM REHNQUIST PASSES AWAY... WHAT NOW?

The death of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist is not as important at the moment as what is happening in our country in the Gulf Coast, but it could be extremely important down the road. It's tough to think about other matters at the moment, but I believe this one is very important to the future of our country. The following stuff includes excerpts from an article at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9195811/ :

Bush can follow a number of different strategies in finding a replacement for Rehnquist:

- Appoint John Roberts to the chief justice vacancy and find another nominee for the O’Connor vacancy.

- Stick with Roberts as the nominee to replace O’Connor and elevate Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas to be chief justice, and then appoint another nominee to the empty associate justice chair. This option would necessitate three separate confirmation hearings.

- Go outside the current Supreme Court to find a new chief justice. Potential nominees include federal appeals court judges J. Michael Luttig and Michael McConnell and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard Law School professor.

The chief justice’s vacancy matters more than other openings on the court. A politically-attuned chief can use the court to advance a legal philosophy that he sees as necessary for the times.
Case in point: Earl Warren, the governor of California and former Republican vice presidential candidate appointed to the court by President Eisenhower in 1953, led revolutions in civil rights and criminal defendants’ rights.

...instead of influencing one-ninth of America’s laws and social trends over the next 40 years, Bush now has the opportunity to influence two-ninths of that future on matters ranging from the death penalty to property rights.

...presidents who seek to implement the changes that their elections have made possible — Franklin Roosevelt in 1937, for example — do not pick consensus nominees for the Supreme Court, but nominees committed to the victorious president’s jurisprudence.

The nine Roosevelt loyalists whom FDR placed on the high court approved of an activist New Deal government. By 1945, when the president died, they had made it a Roosevelt court.
But Bush’s chances of making today’s Supreme Court a Bush court were much stronger six months ago, in the wake of his re-election, than they are today, when Democrats think they have him at an disadvantage.

In this late summer struggle, Bush could hope for a repeat of the 1986 scenario which showed that two targets are harder to hit than one. President Ronald Reagan, working with a Senate under the control of his own party, but under fierce fire from Kennedy and other liberals, managed to get two certifiably conservative justices confirmed: Rehnquist to be chief justice and Scalia to fill Rehnquist’s associate justice vacancy.

Due to being “too extreme” for Kennedy on women’s rights and other issues, Rehnquist served as the lightning rod for Democratic criticism.

Having apparently exhausted themselves on trying to scuttle Rehnquist, Kennedy and the outside opposition groups seemed to lack the vigor to wage an all-out war to defeat Scalia. The Senate confirmed him unanimously.

Snave's notes: This is a case where I agree with sentiments Ted Kennedy has expressed, mainly that our government needs to deal with our own humanitarian crises before the likely haggling begins over the open Supreme Court positions. When the time comes to haggle, I think we need to proceed with caution and examine all nominees closely.

Losing Rehnquist is losing a conservative who dissented on Roe v. Wade, who helped deliver the presidency to Bush in 2000, who believed we have no rights other than those specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and who steered the Supreme Court to the right during his career.

I can tolerate a Supreme Court that leans slightly to the left or right which contains independent thinkers. That's how it has been for a while now. I highly doubt that I (or lots of other Americans) can tolerate a Supreme Court, with fewer independent thinkers, that will hand down 6-3 decision after 6-3 decision in favor of right-wing political causes.

During the next several years, we Democrats, other left-wingers and thoughtful Independents can't "lack the vigor" we lacked in 1986. Replacing the conservative Rehnquist with a Bush nominee would probably just be a "wash" for the left. I have thought all along that if a SECOND vacancy occurred during Dubya's reign, THAT would be the one for us left-wingers to be really concerned about. If John Roberts needs to be opposed, let's use a good amount of energy for opposing him, but let's save a huge load of our energy for the real fight that will follow his likely approval. If we miscalculate, Dubya's Supreme Court legacy will be with us for decades.

14 Comments:

Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

First, Snave, thank you for your concern. I and my family are well.

Second, Roberts has gotten the approval of the American Bar Association, so I don't see where he'll be much of a problem. As far as Roe v. Wade, even Ginsburg has thought the reasoning behind that decision was flawed. That leaves me a rarity: A person who supports abortion rights but is in favor of Roe v. Wade being overturned on the grounds that it references a right that simply is not listed in the Constitution, and, in fact, violates the distribution of powers as outlined in the Constitution. Specifically, the United States Constitution relegates those powers not specifically given to the federal government to the state and local governments, or to the people themselves. Abortion rights, therefore, are better left to the several states, especially given the fact that the vast majority of other medical licensing and regulation of practices is handled at the state level.

Third, I feel the office of Chief Justice should not go to Roberts or Bush's next nominee, but rather, to one of the seven remaining Justices of the Supreme Court, and that the opinions of those seven Justices be given serious weight in that decision. No newcomer is likely to have the experience to know what exactly is needed to run the nation's highest court smoothly.

Finally, I agree with Senator Kennedy (I may have to wash my mouth out with soap for that one) in that this is not the time for games, and that there are concerns that are greater than politics at this time. I simply wish he would tell his colleagues on his side of the aisle that. I furthermore agree that a confirmation battle should happen for the next nominee if he or she is unacceptable. But if Bush happens to nominate another acceptable candidate to the nation's highest court, save that political capital. They may need it in '06.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Good comments, MC. Glad you are well!!

12:07 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

I think the most important issue is that the Chief whoever it may be understand the role of the court in the triad and not be an idological wonk.
Opinions are fine and essential but the ability to be able to rise above or set aside personal opinion in favor of law is vital.
As important as the current disaster in the gulf is, it should not be used as an excuse to take the future of the court lightly.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

I have a better idea. Why don't we impeach half the Republican party for their incompetance all the way down the chain of command till all that is left to take over as President is a moderate and then worry about replacing Renquist?

7:28 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

Sheryl,

I'm all for it, but as much as I know about the law, I don't know of a legal mechanism for removing an entire party from office.
Half of them would simply announce they were Libertarians and remain in office, the other half would claim a shield of their Democratic heritage.

Nope, I'm afraid public floggings are the only provision our founding fathers established to cover this situation.

10:10 PM  
Blogger The Bird Poop said...

Great post Snave, and outstanding comments.

One of my main concerns with the outcome of the 2004 election is now real, the agenda of the Bush administration will now live on for 3-4 decades in the Supreme Court.

Robert's appointment outraged many of the radical religous right (America's Taliban). So it will certainly be interesting to see how he might appease the sheep that voted him into office as the "family values" candidate in his next Supreme Court appointment.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Hey BP! Glad to see you're still out there. It looked like you hadn't been blogging for a while, and I hadn't been by your site since around mid-August. I was wondering if you had become depressed or discouraged, or maybe ill.

I just checked your site, and whew... Thanks for coming by! After reading about your ordeals, I have to say you are a person with courage and heart, and that finding out you're dealing effectively with your situation has made my day much brighter!

Stay strong. Good to know you are still around! I'll visit more regularly!

1:17 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Hey Paul,

We could leave a few Republicans in office, and then a certain percentage of the democrats are really republicans anyway, so I think it would probably just be returning the balance of power we used to have (or at least pretended to have.)

Cause it's not as if the Liebermans are really democrats.

But then we could have a nice moderate for President. You know, like Ted Kennedy. :-)

10:11 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

That's right, Paul. A Kennedy-Schumer ticket, perhaps? 8-)>

6:29 AM  
Blogger 1138 said...

I'm thinking Obama and Kucinich in 08.

A humane, values based platform.
God know we're are going to need it by then in the depths of the new depression.

9:46 AM  
Blogger The Bird Poop said...

Snave,

Thanks for the kind words.

I have been blessed as I have never been depressed or discouraged in my life, not even rainy days or mondays.

Keep on calling them the way you see them on your Various Miseries blog, it is one of my favorites.

I only wish you would consider bringing back True American.

Warmest regards,

Bird

11:30 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

BP, I wish I could say I was the creator of True American... but alas, he was the product of a truly ingenious mind inspired by some of the REAL causes of our declining American civilization!

4:18 PM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Sheryl, I think of myself as either a libertarian (small-"l") or a recovering Republican. That being said, I still cannot think of very many prominent U.S. political figures in the last century I respect less than Senator Kennedy. Lieberman is definitely a Democrat, though not a rabid, mindless, hypocritical ideologue like Kennedy or Schumer.

Obama? I prefer to actually know something about people to whom I give my vote before I cast my ballot. Though that will probably change in the next couple of years, he's still a bit of a cypher. That being said, if he has the qualities I respect in a president, or at least doesn't suck as much as his opponent, there's a strong chance he'll get my vote unless I get in the mood to cast a protest vote for a third party candidate. That being said, that would be the highest office for which I've done that, so the chances of that happening are slim at this time, though that could change if both candidates royally suck as has happened in the last two presidential elections. I don't think I have it in me to vote for a stinker three presidential elections in a row. Kucinich is about as electable as the Admiral who ran with Ross Perot back in '92, and would provide about as much help to any ticket in which he's involved.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Joseph Lieberman is a Democrat, but he leans a bit to the right in a number of cases. I guess you might call him a "Liebertarian". At least he isn't as far to the right as "Democrat" Zell Miller, who I guess you could call a "Millertant".

6:50 AM  

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