SCOTUS: Practically Speaking

kennedy.jpgLinda Greenhouse, former NYTimes legal correspondent now teaching at Yale Law, talked SCOTUS the other day. This rings a number of bells for me:

I foresee a bit of a struggle inside the Democratic coalition as to how persuasive a liberal a recommendation they want. Many think, “We need our Scalia” — which is to say a staunch ideological justice, but for the progressive side — but others think that’s not necessarily the only or most effective way to broker discussion on a conservative Supreme Court. Instead you need someone who will work towards the middle.

It’s a mistake to go for ideology only. Because while Scalia has been a staunch and mouthy conservative on the bench, he is far from persuasive with the other justices.

Before Clarence Thomas joined the Court, Scalia was often a lone dissenter.  Since the Federalist Society project to cram the courts full of conservative soldiers, Scalia’s had more support.  But not due so much to his bench skills as much as an ideological brotherhood.

The real persuasive force these days on SCOTUS is Chief Justice Roberts, whose ideology is firm, but whose social skills are persuasive enough for the real prize. What prize, you ask?

Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote.

What Obama needs is to find a sharp legal mind, an incisive analyst and logician.  But also with some practical experience to bring to an academia and federal judiciary-laden table. 

Someone who is a persuasive writer who can not only detail the law but also grab the imagination as to why that view is correct. Plus, in the current political and media frenzy climate, he must find a decent, unblemished perfect person.

But President Obama also needs to find someone whose personality will instantly click with Justice Kennedy’s need for ego-boo in order to make a real impact.

Someone young enough to stay on the Court for a long time to come.  Someone wily enough to see the chinks in the armor of the ideologically driven arguments on the other side — and call them out, subtly, in memo exchanges (which, after initial arguments luncheons, is the real way that work is done at the Court) based on the law and the facts. And a justice who is skilled at selecting clerks who can be equally persuasive among her/his peers, but do so in a way that is subtle and not ham-handed.

They aren’t just justices, they are human

To be effective, a new justice must comprehend the full range of the human dynamic from the outset.   Because they’ll be working in it for a lifetime appointment.  Interpersonal alienation is not an option for success.

Someone who can thread the needle between the GOP’s tactical maneuvering in the Senate, the weakness of Democratic leadership in thwarting filibusters, the our-biblical-interpretation-or-hell-driven absolutism of the religious right, and the anger of the Federalist Society in not getting one more justice before the end of the Bush years.

In short, we need a miracle.  Any takers?

 
81 Responses to "SCOTUS: Practically Speaking"
Christy Hardin Smith | Monday May 4, 2009 05:44 am 1

And, before anyone asks, I’m not under any circumstances saying picking a liberal is bad. But it can’t be the only consideration if we want it to be a really effective pick. That’s all. Something I’m certain Obama and his team know — but it needed saying before the poo starts being flung…


Rayne | Monday May 4, 2009 06:04 am 2

Most excellent reasoning and explanation, CHS. Thank you. Definitely changes the perspective on candidates for this slot.


Christy Hardin Smith | Monday May 4, 2009 06:06 am 3
In response to Rayne @ 2

Yeah — it’s a lot to contemplate at once. But it’s all important. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the chat we did with Jan Crawford Greenburg on her great Supreme Conflict book.

So much to think about…and so little room for a misstep.


Christy Hardin Smith | Monday May 4, 2009 06:09 am 4
In response to Rayne @ 2

It also brings out why I think Jennifer Granholm needs a thorough look — she’s got exceptional skills in the personal arena, along with a lot of great practical, hand-on experience. But I’ve heard some rumors that she and Obama don’t completely click, although I’m also hearing that several unions are going to push her from a labor perspective.

Lots to think about in all of this. My brain’s about to explode. *g*


demi | Monday May 4, 2009 06:11 am 5
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 1

I’m glad you spelled it out. Did you spend the weekend reading about justice? Great larger picture needed painted here.
You might want to stand behind the sneeze guard, though. Maybe not. Maybe we’ve put on our Big Girl Panties and can view this process as mature adults. *g*


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 06:15 am 6

Does ego-boo = boost? Or, something else? The descripion reminds me of Obama himself, so who may be similiar?


Neil | Monday May 4, 2009 06:17 am 7

Dawn Johnson


SanderO | Monday May 4, 2009 06:18 am 8

G moring Christy…

How extensive, if any, are the discussions of the supremes as they formulate their votes? Are they lobbying the other justices? Or do they mostly just hand the work to their clerks and edit the opinion if they write one?

How DOES it work over there?


Badwater | Monday May 4, 2009 06:18 am 9

We could save money by dumping Thomas and giving Scalia two votes.


demi | Monday May 4, 2009 06:20 am 10
In response to RevBev @ 6

Ha! He does have his own version of swagger sometimes.


demi | Monday May 4, 2009 06:21 am 11

I’d like to edit my first comment to read intelligent and compassionate adults.


SouthernDragon | Monday May 4, 2009 06:21 am 12

Sorry for the OT, Christy

Today is the 39th anniversary of the murder of 4 students and the wounding of 9 others, one who was permanently paralyzed, by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University.

No war but class war.


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:22 am 13
In response to Badwater @ 9

How to make a bitter man even more bitter.


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:23 am 14

This appointment should give us some fundamental insight into Obama. Since it is a lifetime appointment, all the machinations about short-term political gamesmanship should be absent.


SouthernDragon | Monday May 4, 2009 06:23 am 15
In response to SouthernDragon @ 12

This event was instrumental in my turning against the war in Viet Nam. We had just returned from an op when we saw the piece in Stars ‘n Stripes.


barbara | Monday May 4, 2009 06:26 am 16

This is a great post, Christy. Much to chew on (on which to chew). So Keith Olbermann isn’t going to make the cut? *g*


cbl2 | Monday May 4, 2009 06:26 am 17

Good Morning Christy and Firedogs,

wow. thanks for the insights Christy – would’ve taken me weeks of reading TradMed crappola to glean most of it out on my own.

and where the hell was I the day of the Jan Greenberg thread ? so sorry I missed it in real time but look forward to reading the whole thing


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:27 am 18
In response to SouthernDragon @ 15

Have you read Nixonland for how the rest of the U.S. thought about that? I can’t remember how much he talks specifically about Kent State (will go look), but just in general about how the country thought about the DFHs against the war.


Ann in AZ | Monday May 4, 2009 06:27 am 19

Christy! I’ve just been through a bout in the hospital with a respiratory infection that exacerbated my COPD, but now the mind fog that comes with hospitalization is lifting more and more each day. So I was paying attention to TV last night and one of our local channels reported that Janet Napolitano’s name is also being mentioned in connection to the Scotus appt. I was wondering if anyone else had a take on this? She does seem to have a lot of the qualities you would want from a SC Justice, imo.


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 06:29 am 20
In response to eCAHNomics @ 18

I certainly recall the outrage and sadness of the college community. But alot of the anger at “dirty hippies” (which the kids were not) was alive and well.


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:30 am 21
In response to eCAHNomics @ 18

Lots about Kent State. Online searchable here.


barbara | Monday May 4, 2009 06:30 am 22
In response to eCAHNomics @ 18

I thought that Kent State was something that people of a certain age would remember forever, whilst our kiddos and grands would allow it to slide into a historic crevice. But no. My granddaughter chose Kent State for a major school project (middle school) and was invited to Mankato State University to be one among others who displayed their work at a seminar and talked with people who stopped by to discuss it. Memory moves into this generation!


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:31 am 23

Someone asserted on TV a day or so ago that the next SCJ would not be a white male. Christy, what do you think?


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 06:32 am 24
In response to barbara @ 22

Thanks. How interesting that she chose that. When the pictures are re-run, they become all the more horrifying, I think.


barbara | Monday May 4, 2009 06:32 am 25
In response to eCAHNomics @ 23

Well, crap! There goes Bill Clinton! *g*


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:32 am 26
In response to barbara @ 22

Heh. I would have thought the same as you. Good on your granddaughter.


cbl2 | Monday May 4, 2009 06:33 am 27
In response to SouthernDragon @ 12

did ya see this ?
PBS to air it late summer


SouthernDragon | Monday May 4, 2009 06:34 am 28
In response to RevBev @ 20

Funny how people still use “hippie” as a slur. My freak flag flies for them.

Now I really am outta here.

Be good to yourselves, and all other living things.

Namaste


SouthernDragon | Monday May 4, 2009 06:36 am 29
In response to cbl2 @ 27

Too bad John Trudell’s not on the list of Native Americans. He’d sure build a fire under everybody.


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:37 am 30
In response to barbara @ 25

Also, there would go Cass let’s-not-criminalize-policy-differences Sunstein. Yeah!


SnarkiChildOfLoki | Monday May 4, 2009 06:39 am 31

I think it’s worthwhile looking at the background of Earl Warren. While, like most politicians he started his career in the law, most of his experience was as a governor of CA.

That political experience, of negotiation, and forging a consensus, is perhaps more important than toeing an ideological line.

That’s one reason that I think that Bill Clinton would be a good choice.

The other, of course, is that Scalia would have a massive coronary when Bill walks into the chambers, puts an arm around him and says “Nino! Good to see ya, buddy! Hey, there’s this case I want to talk with you about…”


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 06:40 am 32
In response to SouthernDragon @ 28

Yep, “funny & Slur” esp. when a lot of them were very, very smart. and may have inhaled.


barbara | Monday May 4, 2009 06:41 am 33
In response to SnarkiChildOfLoki @ 31

Okay, I’m laughin’. That’s been my thought about Clinton, too. Clarence Thomas just might take early retirement. *g*


bgrothus | Monday May 4, 2009 06:43 am 34

I recall reading an article about Kennedy in which he had a strong interest in International (maybe international) law and had spent vacation time traveling to other countries and checking out their legal systems. This had the Reich wing in an uproar. I think Kennedy had accumulated the least wealth among the jurists. I don’t know if either of those elements would have any compelling aspects, but considering he was supposed to become the most powerful jurist, being the swinger on the SC, it would appear that someone has gotten his ear.

RBG is supposed to also have a tight social relationship with AS. Clearly the relationship is social only–nothing that helps to modify his positions on any issue.


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 06:44 am 35
In response to barbara @ 33

Just a couple of things….a lot of people thought that the Court would be the job that Hillary really wanted, but looks like she is happy, I think.

But there would always be the question whether Bill could keep his robe zipped.


cbl2 | Monday May 4, 2009 06:47 am 36

in light of Christy’s (and Greenberg’s ) comments, Secretary Napolitano looks like an excellent selection.

and frankly, if the vaunted Obama messaging machine is worth a damn, they’d be out there whispering well deserved smack on The Federalist Society as the constitutionally barren sponsors of Yoo and Bybee – but that’s just me


demi | Monday May 4, 2009 06:48 am 37
In response to RevBev @ 35

Bev, I hate to be the one to point this out to you, but with a robe on, things might be easier. I mean, who’d know what was underneath?


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:49 am 38
In response to demi @ 37

I managed to prevent myself from typing a similar comment. I suggest you work on your self-discipline. *g*


twolf1 | Monday May 4, 2009 06:50 am 39

Is that a gavel in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?


cbl2 | Monday May 4, 2009 06:51 am 40
In response to eCAHNomics @ 18

tragically, ironically, Kent State horrified the Silent Majority and went some distance to turn public opinion against the War


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 06:52 am 41
In response to twolf1 @ 39

LOL: I was about to be sorry that I had raised the question and now Im not at all. ;-))


demi | Monday May 4, 2009 06:53 am 42
In response to eCAHNomics @ 38

I know. You’re right. I’ll just sit here and whistle “I’m bad”.


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 06:55 am 43
In response to demi @ 42

O, please do not punish us like that. Good Morning….I got a great stock of ginger beer. Ive become so addicted, I have to ignore how much sugar there is.


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:55 am 44
In response to demi @ 42

Well, Gary Hart is on cspan being a foreign policy elder statesman, so reputation repair is possible for anyone.


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 06:57 am 45
In response to RevBev @ 43

Home made? My parents used to make root beer, and I’ve never been able to drink the commercial stuff since. If memory serves, the commercial stuff is too sweet.


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 07:01 am 46
In response to eCAHNomics @ 45

I do not really find it too sweet because it is so tart. But someone had left a recipe here the other day, which I should try. But it did call for a lot of sugar.


barbara | Monday May 4, 2009 07:01 am 47
In response to RevBev @ 35

Solution: wear it backwards?


demi | Monday May 4, 2009 07:03 am 48
In response to eCAHNomics @ 44

I’m watching too. Is it me, or does he look old? I guess all the Kent State comments have me feeling older this morning.
As for self-discipline, I still have an hour and a half before I go to the gym. So, I guess I can be self-indulgent a little while longer.
How’s your trees? I know that jealousy is probably one of the seven deadlies, but I have to admit I am. A little.


barbara | Monday May 4, 2009 07:04 am 49
In response to demi @ 37

Ach, the kilt thingie.

Seriously, though (bwahahahaha), it would be quite loverly to see another woman on SCOTUS, all other things being equal.


twolf1 | Monday May 4, 2009 07:05 am 50

Jane has a new post up…


barbara | Monday May 4, 2009 07:06 am 51
In response to RevBev @ 43

Where does one buy ginger beer (or does one make it)? I even called a liquor store, and was told (kindly, as befits conversation with an airhead), “Beats me!”


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 07:06 am 52
In response to barbara @ 47

Barbara….Talk about discipline….I am not even going to go there…..too many possibilities as you know. ;) Boogles the mind.

Demi, In a word….he IS old. Heck, Donna Rice is probably old by now.


laborite57 | Monday May 4, 2009 07:06 am 53
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 4

Interesting factoid available at Wikipedia is that Granholm was born in Canada and is a naturalized citizen. That would be a first, wouldn’t it?


eCAHNomics | Monday May 4, 2009 07:09 am 54
In response to demi @ 48

I made it rain, by watering them yesterday morning. Watering is a real pain in the butt. Put a large plastic garbage pail in the trailer of my tractor (probably around 24 gallons, I’ve never measured it), fill it up at the hose, drive around to each tree and water it. Took about 2 hours. And the rain has not been sufficient to do the trick, as some of the root balls were really dry. So it was worth the effort.


demi | Monday May 4, 2009 07:09 am 55
In response to barbara @ 49

Quite loverly indeed. I think we shall see either a woman or a person of color. Janet N. already has an important job. I’d like to believe that our President anticipated this opportunity to nominate a SCJ and I’m wondering about people he has not selected for his cabinet, keeping them on the back burner for this exact situation.


RevBev | Monday May 4, 2009 07:09 am 56
In response to barbara @ 51

Well, one of our grocery stores usually has it. Not always. There is a little middle-east grocery that has it. Something like Whole Foods, I think, would, but I have not checked there. Here online,the other day, someone mentioned Specs, which is a fancy liquor store. Those are what I’ve found. I will check WF the next time I am that way, also.


Knut | Monday May 4, 2009 07:13 am 57

Christy, I don’t disagree with anything you have written, but it’s a sad day when we have to rely on ‘personality’ as a criterion to swing a single vote on the bench. It shows just how far the quality of that bench has sunk.


BlueCrow | Monday May 4, 2009 07:14 am 58
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 1

“I’m not under any circumstances saying picking a liberal is bad. But it can’t be the only consideration if we want it to be a really effective pick.”

Gosh, Christy, what are you saying? :-) Should the pick be a “liberal” or not? Are you trying to say the pick should be a “liberal” with the following characteristics: [place list here]?

Are you really saying, what you appear to be here: if he can’t find anything but a socially inept “liberal,” then he should look for a socially-skilled monster conservative?


cbl2 | Monday May 4, 2009 07:16 am 59

probably EPU’d – but everyone should read Christy’s “they are human” link above. the insights in the thread alone are fabu – we are some spoiled lil dfh’s

Christy – would have been good to see her answer lhp’s #62 on future picks. can not wait to read this book.


WarOnWarOff | Monday May 4, 2009 07:18 am 60
In response to eCAHNomics @ 54

Brought in a flat of tomato seedlings this morning, to give away to co-workers. They were “extras” that I was holding onto…just in case. They’re all gone now to their new homes. I’m such a proud mother.


cbl2 | Monday May 4, 2009 07:22 am 61

oh and p.s. – when they start clacking their little cloven hooves about ‘political correctness and reverse discrimination!’ and they will . . . we now have Ms Greenberg’s reportage and insights to shove in their faces:

“Bush wanted to nominate a woman or minority. The directive from Andy Card to the lawyers in the WH was “no white guys.” “

in your face bitches!


wigwam | Monday May 4, 2009 07:28 am 62

What Obama needs is to find a sharp legal mind, an incisive analyst and logician. …

Glenzilla???


demi | Monday May 4, 2009 07:31 am 63
In response to BlueCrow @ 58

It does not appear to me that she is saying that. She is pointing out what, in practical terms, works most effectively.


cinnamonape | Monday May 4, 2009 07:47 am 64

I agree entirely Christy. I want both a progressive, but one that can swing the “moderates” over with both an intelligent grounding in history, the “living law”, and personal experience. I thing Ruth Bader Ginsberg has tried to do this, and has succeeded on some fronts, but she’s often alone in her efforts. Souters personality wasn’t up to arguing with those that he felt had betrayed the law (in some ways he WAS the true “Constructionist” on the court).

Kennedy, in particular, seems capable of at least listening to a good argument. He’s the least likely of the right-leaners to hide behind the canard of “strict Constructionism”. Given that he’s move incrementally to the left (mainly I suspect to slow down the avalanche into untenable right-wing doctrine) he may be pulled a bit more that way.’

The idea of a “Scalia of the Right” bothers me. It’s precisely what the Right wing would use to challenge all subsequent Obamka appointments. But if the individual is out there making a strong case for the law supporting justice for all…throwing in a lot of “Congress makes the laws”; “the Constitution clearly states that Congress has the power to declare war”- pull backs from an imperial presidency…then that would be fantastic.


nellieh | Monday May 4, 2009 07:59 am 65
In response to Neil @ 7

Or anybody the ‘Federalist Society” is ahainst!


perris | Monday May 4, 2009 08:03 am 66

What prize, you ask?

Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote.

quite astute, thanx for that christy

I am personally surprised roberts has those kinds of social skilz, I wasn’t impressed with his performance at all during the hearings


STTPinOhio | Monday May 4, 2009 08:13 am 67

What Obama needs is to find a sharp legal mind, an incisive analyst and logician. But also with some practical experience to bring to an academia and federal judiciary-laden table.

Someone who is a persuasive writer who can not only detail the law but also grab the imagination as to why that view is correct. Plus, in the current political and media frenzy climate, he must find a decent, unblemished perfect person.

Maybe Hillary will appoint Barack to the bench in 2017.


cinnamonape | Monday May 4, 2009 08:23 am 68

Obtuse and a little off-topic. Would Souter stay on the Court through the Confirmation hearings and into the Fall session? He’s “announced” his impending retirement, but would he leave if the Court would go to 4-4? That was pretty much his point of not leaving during the Bush era, wasn’t it?

Also, can a nominee “hear arguments” and then, when confirmed, vote on them?


dakine01 | Monday May 4, 2009 09:05 am 69
In response to cinnamonape @ 68

According to a quick Google check, Souter will be staying unitl his replacement is confirmed.

If I remember correctly, if it turns out that Souter stays and hears an argument but leaves before a decision is rendered, the court can require a new hearing so that the replacement is then voting.

And I believe if the court winds up 4 – 4 on issues (after say one of the sitting justices recuses self for whatever reason) the lower court ruling is then considered upheld.


Socked Salmon | Monday May 4, 2009 09:15 am 70

Greenhouse is one of my favorite reporters and her insights are worth mulling over.

That said, I’m curious how old is Kennedy & how much longer might he be expected to remain on the bench—assuming no sudden health issues? Or how much longer should liberals accept this as a necessary strategy?


Hugh | Monday May 4, 2009 09:24 am 71
In response to cinnamonape @ 68

Souter said he would leave in June or when he is replaced. SCOTUS will be on vacation until October so he is leaving the Administration a window in which to work (the Senate doesn’t go on vacation until August and comes back in September).

a staunch ideological justice, but for the progressive side

I think this is simplistic. You can be a solid progressive without being ideological in the sense that your views can be informed by reality and facts and not fly in the face of them (the hallmark of a conservative ideologue). If you try to draw this out and say that well ideology is really about core values or what we believe than the argument goes to nothing because everyone has their beliefs and qualifies as an “ideologue”.

Instead you need someone who will work towards the middle.

Given the above, the real message here seems to be progressives need not apply, that Greenhouse’s pick would be mostly a centrist or just slightly left of center. To me, this seems more like the ratchet effect. Conservatives choose from the loony right and Democrats are restricted to the middle or near middle in theirs.

And let us remember that this new pick will not be alone. There will be Ginsburg, Stevens, and Breyer as well to do any persuading.


Hugh | Monday May 4, 2009 09:26 am 72

Kennedy is 72.


cbl2 | Monday May 4, 2009 09:27 am 73

I am personally surprised roberts has those kinds of social skilz

if you believe, as many of us do, he is a deeply closeted man, well developed social skills would be an integral part of that package


shagnaski | Monday May 4, 2009 10:13 am 74
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 1

Christy,

Your points all are well enough taken. The problem is that Justice Ginsburg, a moderate called liberal because women’s moderation tends to look “liberal” to white male centered eyes and because of the extreme rightward lean of the Court, has been in precisely the position you dicuss as have Justices Breyer and Souter. Their apparent failures should be attributed to inadequate social skills by your reasoning. Further, equality “means not having to say you’re sorry (YUCK, sorry).” That is, the new Justice would get along just fine simply because she/he would not have to. Finally, I can’t think of examples of left ideologic legal reasoning which is to say that I can’t recall any from the left reasoning from conclusion as seems the predisposition of the right.


emerson | Monday May 4, 2009 10:31 am 75

I’d like to see Pamela Karlan given serious consideration. She’d be a tremendous adversary for Roberts and the equal to anything Scalia or Alito could throw at her. The next two choices (after her) would also be women in my world.

Here are two links. One is a brief bio and the other is talk re Brown as featured speaker at Duke last year. It’s about 50 minutes long, and provides insights into her style and mind.

http://www.law.stanford.edu/directory/profile/32/

http://www.law.duke.edu/webcas…..al+Lecture

(Judge Fletcher’s talk ain’t bad either.)


SomeGuy | Monday May 4, 2009 10:57 am 76

The problem with Justice Scalia is not that he is conservative. The problem is he behaves like he is the top GOP lawyer.

I’d like to see a real liberal on the Supreme Court. Somebody on the fence is more likely to be convinced by, than to convince the “true believers”. Republicans appoint right wingers, but the Democrats are expected to appoint “moderates”, and by moderates I mean conservatives.

Justice Scalia is an example of a Supreme Court Justice who places political ideology above the Constitution. A Supreme Court Justice who placed Liberal, or conservative-lite ideology above the Constitution would be almost as bad. Although they would occasionally cancel out Justice Scalia’s vote.

I’d like to see a Supreme Court Justice who has an expansive view of all our Constitutional rights, not just the ones that are currently poplar with one party or the other.


Cujo359 | Monday May 4, 2009 11:16 am 77

I definitely don’t want to see a middle of the road pick here. What I’d like to see is a sharp legal mind that’s demonstrated a taste for human rights and a healthy skepticism of Friedman-style free-market ideology.

It would be nice if this person were also persuasive, but as others have pointed out already, what he (or more likely in this case, she) will be trying to persuade others to think is important.

re: wigwam @ 62, I think Glenn Greenwald would be a terrific choice. But then, I’m not a lawyer.


emerson | Monday May 4, 2009 12:21 pm 78

More Karlan (from Friday). No shrinking violet.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/…..Obama.html


cinnamonape | Monday May 4, 2009 02:39 pm 79
In response to Hugh @ 71

Hugh…just want to clarify…your second and third lines are not responding to something I said in my post. They are Laura Greenhouse’s comments from Christy’s posting. When I hear of an “ideological leftist” it seems that the person stating this themselves may be on the right. The ideological leftists probably aren’t in the judiciary. They’d never be appointed.

Ideological leftists are folks that are in the Revolutionary Young Communist League or the Earth Liberation Front. Unlike hard ideological rightists (members of anti-abortion, the NRA, anti-evolution groups) none of these have ever entered into either the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches of government.

I agree about the ratchet effect. Right now we need a progressive, but one that is able to converse with the “middle”…to pull them over. Souter lost his energy. He wasn’t a battler. We need someone who can bend (though not break) some arms.


woid | Monday May 4, 2009 02:51 pm 80

“Working toward the middle” is one of the major delusions of the “moderate” wing of Democrats.

If the “middle” is the sweet spot of what people in the country want, most of the so-called moderates are well to the right of it. Of course, our “leaders” should be driving public opinion in a positive direction, not following it… but listening to the people would be a vast improvement.

In fact, though, when people in DC talk about the “middle,” they mean a spot midway between left and right, which only exists in their minds. That mythical spot is a moving target — and its movement has all been to the right, going back to Reagan at least. As many people have remarked, Nixon would be way to the left of what Washington now considers to be the middle.

It’s not an either-or proposition. I say, get the leftmost justice we can get while playing the usual political games (no nanny problems, etc.), of course taking into consideration how persuasive the nominee would be to the other justices (in league with Ginsburg, Stevens, & Breyer).

The right has used the Overton Window for years to push the agenda — and the “middle” — in their direction. And then when it’s our turn, our “leaders” always compromise, with the result that the rightward drift continues.

Bipartisanship is dead. “Nonpartisanship” is often a euphemism for finding lukewarm half measures that won’t offend anybody (which, with the Republicans ready to be offended at every moment, is impossible). Let’s win some for OUR side for a change. The Supreme Court pick is a great opportunity to do just that.


MrWhy | Monday May 4, 2009 06:00 pm 81

Jeffrey Rosen @ The New Republic outlines the case against Sotomayor.


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