As Justice Stevens Winds Down, Will Obama Continue SCOTUS Trend To The Right?

From Yahoo News, we hear rumblings Justice John Paul Stevens may be winding down his time on the Supreme Court Bench:

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has hired fewer law clerks than usual, generating speculation that the leader of the court’s liberals will retire next year.

If Stevens does step down, he would give President Barack Obama his second high court opening in two years. Obama chose Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the court when Justice David Souter announced his retirement in May.

Souter’s failure to hire clerks was the first signal that he was contemplating leaving the court.

Stevens is 89 years old and has been sitting with the Supremes for nearly 34 years; it has been a long and remarkable run. And the article, and the sources quoted therein are quite correct, while certainly not definitive, this augurs very much in favor of the thought that Stevens intends to step down at the end of the upcoming term. There is a pattern and flow of such things as clerk hiring in the Federal appellate bench, and this is very telling.

Sadly, whether it is at the end of this term or next, or god forbid an unplanned event in the interim, it is quite clear that Justice Stevens is nearing the end of his storied stay, and it is time to talk about what person and what ethos will take his place and maintain into the indefinite future. The Supreme bench has been moving ever to the right ideologically for a some time now, and it took another incremental step in that direction with President Obama’s appointment of Justice Sotomayor to replace the departed David Souter.

Whatever opinion one has of Justice Sotomayor, there is simply no way possible to view her elevation to the Supreme Court as doing anything substantive to stanch the rightward flow of momentum on the Supreme Court. And therein lies the concern with what President Obama will do as far as Justice Stevens’ eventual replacement. Quite frankly, Obama ran on a platform of undoing the wingnutting of the Federal Courts, but so far has done nothing to rebalance the equilibrium they once enjoyed.

As to the Supremes, neither the progressives nor the Democratic party as a whole should stand for another conservative centrist pick from President Obama. The only thing controversial about Sotomayor was that she was a Hispanic woman, her views are not particularly liberal nor progressive in the least, if Obama picks a similar legal/judicial minded person to replace Stevens, we are going to be in a world of hurt on many fronts. There are all kinds of signs, since his earliest days as a primary campaigner, that Obama was sweet on elevating his friend and colleague Cass Sunstein to the court, other rumors about Elena Kagan; both would be unmitigated disasters. The terms "equilibrium" and "balance" are not just cute terms that make interesting copy to read, they have very dramatic consequences in how the Supreme Court functions and rules.

So, let the demand for a true replacement, in the progressive/liberal mold, for Justice Stevens begin here and now. When you see or write to your congress men and women, when you have a chance to have your voice heard by the putative levers of power, let them know where you stand. Justice Stevens must only be replaced by another jurist of the Stevens mold, not the type of corporate loving centrist Barack Obama tends toward. My vote, such as it may be, is for Erwin Chemerinsky!

113 replies
  1. maryo2 says:

    I am glad you posted this. Pres. Obama/Rahm needs to know that he is being watched because undoubtedly, he/they will ask Republicans for their opinions before he/they start a list of possibles.

    I wish he/they would get up off their knees and lead.

  2. whyknot says:

    Bmaz I’m usually a fan of yours but think you are being v. unfair to Justice S. She’s yet to decide a single supreme court level case and you are painting her to the right. Am sure you are basing this on her previous decisions but history has shown those are often an unreliable predictor of supreme court behavior. It’s a bit unseemly for an attorney to jump to conclusions before any facts are in.

    • bmaz says:

      She has a very consistent twenty plus year track record, and has been consistently not a civil libertarian, especially on police state/law and order issues. I do not think I am being unfair in the least; you can only pick and judge candidates such as Sotomayor on what they have done to date, and that is all I have done. I do not ascribe to the thought that we should just hope somebody fundamentally changes when they get plopped on the bench. She is there, we shall see over the next decade or two how she pans out. But there is certainly nothing unfair in my characterization of her to date.

    • klynn says:

      I second that suggestion.

      Although Peterr’s list caught my attention.


      Perhaps we here at the Lake/EW, could come up with a strong list of recommended candidates to pound the WH to act upon?

      • bmaz says:

        I would be fine with Turley; I like Cemerinsky better, but Turley would be fine. And for all those that think a Chemerinsky or Turley is “too liberal” to get confirmed, please keep in mind that Bush got Alito through easily and Alito is far more to the right polar end than Either Erwin or Jon are to the left.

        • klynn says:

          BTW, bmaz, thank you for this post. The earlier we know to begin advocating for a candidate, the better. Thanks for keeping us ahead of the curve.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          Turley probably has no chance (too many appearances on Countdown) and Chemerinksky would likely make a better SC justice, but I just want to see all the heads that would explode if Turley got the nomination.

          • HardheadedLiberal says:

            Let me put in a plug for a completely different perspective. I think we need a lawyer on the court who has practiced law on the civil side for ordinary people. The experience of a personal injury practice or a criminal defense practice or a labor law practice or an employment law practice is worlds apart from the experience of the career government lawyers that constitute the right-wing bloc on the court. It is also somewhat different from Judge Sotomayor’s experience, though.

            Law professors, even if they are great on the hottest issues of the day, simply do not have the depth and breadth of experience that a private practitioner has. And some of the “great liberal hopes” for the Supreme Court – such as Felix Frankfurter, a great labor lawyer and confidant of Justice Brandeis when Frankfurter was a young lawyer – have wreaked havoc on the court in many of the things that they did. (The most glaring example for Frankfurter was the doctrine of “abstention,” i.e., for a federal court to decline to hear a constitutional issue clearly within the jurisdiction of the federal court in order to let the parties try to get a state court to resolve the controversy on grounds other than federal law.)

            I haven’t given specific names for candidates that fit this picture much thought, yet, but I’m going to work on it.

              • bmaz says:

                No it is not a requirement, and in some regards, I do not disagree with that sentiment; however, litigation has gotten very complicated and much of what the Supreme Court has to unravel anymore is procedural and evidentiary based as opposed to grand principles. I honestly think a non-lawyer would have a rough go of it and, sadly, is probably a bad idea to install a non-lawyer on the court anymore. Kind of hurts to say that, but my gut says it is right.

                • Hugh says:

                  Having read opinions by the Court’s radical conservatives, I would say that having a law degree in no way has helped the quality of their legal thinking. Some of Kennedy’s opinions are almost unbelievably poorly written. As for citation and footnoting that’s why they have clerks.

                • Jo Fish says:

                  Hey, the President of Intel didn’t invent the duo-core chip, or USB… he hired someone to do it.

                  Justices can hire law clerks and if they’re smart enough to use them wisely they can parse the bullshit and come to perhaps a more common-sense solution than one that someone who has lived with the blinders of pure “justice” might come up with.

                  Litigation is complicated because lawyers get paid by the hour (and I’m semi-facetious here)… maybe a smart person who has a nose for bullshit might be a good choice. Especially right-wing bullshit.

            • tinman1967 says:

              Just what we need…..more litigation producing decisions. The US is already known as the land of litigation.

  3. whyknot says:

    Probably there are some comments back and forth since I first posted but whether it’s my computer or your California I can’t get this site to update properly and just have to wish you all good day. Aggravating, sorry to comment and leave.

    • bmaz says:

      On the whole, how about a nice solid liberal Democrat instead of a Republican that has simply made some rulings we like. This is especially true with Lamberth, who I have respect for , but would adamantly oppose being put on the Supremes. Walker and Walton are a little closer, but fer crying out loud, do we have to run to a freaking Republican, even if they are semi-admirable in some regards? This is the exact problem I am concerned about.

  4. JimWhite says:

    As I said on the previous thread, my depression over the “Great Triangulator” is that he will probably try to pass off someone as ridiculous as Cass Sunstein as our next liberal hope. I really don’t know how my sanity will survive a nomination that bad or worse.

  5. rbleier says:

    Thanks bmaz for this. Soto is scary esp as Roman Catholic what she will do on abortion. But, you’re right, it’s also on a host of other issues that we’ll be in a world of hurt. And of course, the main problem is with BHO.

    I’m mainly writing to note that Obama/Holder (who else? Rahm?) have been stalling — just like Clinton did — on appointing Federal judges. Of the 100 vacancies they’ve appointed 10 and are apparently doing little to move those ten thru the Senate. So we’re still net 100 vacancies. This as of an NPR report a month ago.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This will be another fight between the corporatist and progressive wings of the now dominant party. Will Obama opt for money in the hand or for giving voice to those who elected him, not just the party bosses whose handiwork remains hidden? Will he rise above being just another Chicago pol or stay so far within his reach that he loses his grasp?

    These comments and arguments apply to filling any vacancy within the next three years, Justice Stevens’ or anyone else’s.

    • MartyDidier says:

      Good Post earlofhuntingdon….
      I’d like to add a few things I’m aware of that many aren’t up to par about.
      To begin with, we don’t have a two main party system. The Dems and Repubs are actually One Group WHO ARE NOT for our Constitution. There is actually a battle going on between those who WANT OUR CONSTITUTION and THOSE WHO DON’T. This has been going on for a long time and lately since 911 moved into a more aggressive role per their plan.

      The reason for this in part is, mind control to keep us all busy when in fact deeper more important things are taking place. Some of the backdoor stuff can be read here.

      We are actually in the middle of a White House Coup put on mainly by the Big Banks and Financial Groups similar to what happened in 1933 Business Plot. The history of this is available on the internet and please read further to learn how this related to WWII and WHO were involved. Much of this was released last year if I’m not mistaken and was held secret until.

      How I know this is because I was in a family for more than 26 years who joined in the later 70s and have a high level role in supporting this effort. Eventually and hopefully soon much more of this will surface.

      As for Obama, he’s a TEAM MEMBER. How I know again is because of the time spend in the family. The family used a certain law firm who Obama worked for to setup their Drug Distribution business in Florida. This law firm has a direct link with “The Combine” also known as “The Shadow Government” here in the Chicago area. By the way, Chicago was a is/was a major drug hub and laundering area for CIA operations including Drug smuggling which is where some of the money comes from that is FUNDING the White House Coup. How I know again, is because I was in a family who are directly involved.

      On a more positive side, if you’ve been watching the news and know what to look for, you would see an opposing group who are working at dismantling this Coup attempt. Being so huge, it’s expected to take a while and in my opinion the Coup is loosing it’s grip and won’t last. Eventually we all will see daylight and it’ll be a happy day for all.

      Marty Didier
      Northbrook, IL

  7. BayStateLibrul says:

    Duval Patrick. Make the Republicans go bat shit…
    BTW, glad we have one party, the change in the law to have the good Governor appoint an interim Senator will pass within two weeks.
    Fuck you, Republicans…
    It’s nice not have to worry about the do-nothing arsholes…

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Yup. According to my unnamed sources, Patrick will sign legislation/appoint after he gets out of the hospital (hip replacement).
        The Repubs will bitch, but who cares…
        I’m going to write-in Teddy’s grandson…

  8. Mary says:

    Nice post bmaz – and a big vote for Chemerinsky (do you have an extra K in there?)

    I do think one of the difficult things now would be to have someone that seems solidly “progressive” but who has not taken the kind of public positions on some of the things likely to come before the court to where they would feel they would have to recuse. I do think that might start winnowing down the field to sitting judges and it’s why I’d just as soon not see some of the choices that might come to mind up. Kagan would be disastrous not only from the standpoint that she’s a politician and a fundraiser and a beltway babe/ivy grazer way before she’s a real lawyer, but also bc she’s already as Sol Gen involved in so many things that are likely to get to the court – she becomes either a lost vote or a bone of contention.

    As to sitting judges, I don’t have much of a feel for what’s available. If Obama could get someone progressive with some military background as well (Stevens was the only one on the court with that experience) it would be good IMO. If the pick is someone who is really appealing because of public positions they have taken, just factor in what cases we might “lose”them on for recusal as you work through.

    bmaz – re: Turley and the too liberal argument, it doesn’t hurt for his chances that he also was one to lead the charge for impeachment regarding Clinton.

  9. Stephen says:

    It’s just amazing how true sanity for this country lies within the Progressive Movement but it’s judicial representatives are sidelined so completely. When the People, even diehard supporters of Obama realize they have been had, it is not going to be pretty.

    • bmaz says:

      I like Sullivan; I also liked Diane Wood a lot (and a lot more than Sotomayor). But Obama has picked a woman, there are now again two on the Court and, while I do not necessarily support such quota based thought, I kind of doubt that he will appoint another woman with his next pick. To be honest, and again this is not my preference, just my guess, I just don’t think a woman will be up until Ginsburg’s seat is up.

      • LabDancer says:

        “don’t think a woman will be up until Ginsburg’s seat is up”

        That seems a safe bet, but — no criticism of you for the punditry — it’s disgraceful.

        Further, the implication that a half-African self-avowed liberal Democratic president, who publicly credits his mother & one grandmother above anyone else for his values, ambitions, growth & success, would give in to such a blatant, sexist, antediluvian, retrogressive & just plain fucking WRONG quota, is disgusting.

        You’ve got a nation who’s central claim is opportunity; a population distribution that more-or- less typically includes that half or more are female; & an institution heading up & symbolically embodying one of the 3 critical, foundational principles; & out of 110 of its membership, over more than two centuries, ONE — HUNDRED — AND — SEVEN have been male.

        Also: putting up Hillary Clinton as SoS & as the international public co-face of the country, and putting of a slam-dunk centrist like Sonia Sonyamayor for the SCOTUS, bless ‘em both, ain’t enough to restore the Democratic party to it’s proper role as the major party which recognizes the equal — at least — contribution of women to society & as the foundation for civilized humanity.

        Finally: If I only get one little teensy venal wish in life, I chose to know that Scalia’s head has explosed from looking up & down the woolsack & seeing five women.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, I tried to be careful to make it clear that is just what I see, not necessarily my view or desire. I would be fine with Sullivan or Wood; but I. personally, think Erwin Chemerinsky is by a light year the best possible choice.

          • LabDancer says:

            I like Erwin’s stand on everything I can think of that matters; he’d be a great choice … for a man. There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires a member of the SCOTUS be a lawyer. That means there’s about 180 million Americans whose qualifications ought to be reviewed before his.

              • Leen says:

                Yowser they keep talking about pulling someone from the regular folks. How about a genius committed to Justice like no one else….Our favorite Marcy

            • PJBurke says:

              There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires a member of the SCOTUS be a lawyer. That means there’s about 180 million Americans whose qualifications ought to be reviewed before his.

              Noam Chomsky.

              And let the exploding commence.

              (yeah… I know. I’m behind the rest of class on this one. Thanks for posting this bmaz… )

        • whyknot says:

          Oh I am so with you on that. Personally I would love 4 women Supremes at least. My favorite pick for the next open seat will be the best female Asian judge in the country, whoever she is.

      • bzick says:

        I have no doubt you are right. That would be expected from the conventional beltway mentality. But perhaps if Kathleen Sullivan were to become the definitive Preferred Choice of liberal bloggerdom, Obama could Sister Soulja the DFH-o-sphere, and show the villagers how manly he is by nominating the moderate middle-of-the-road weak tea Chemerinsky instead. (I mean, if our job is to frame the debate…)

  10. Mary says:

    There’s always Koh (who they appear to be trying to keep out of country and under wraps at State).

    BTW – one thing I didn’t notice on that whacky Whackenhut “contractors gone wild” in Kabul story, was this:

    Nearly two-thirds of the embassy guards are Gurkhas from Nepal and northern India who don’t speak adequate English, a situation that creates communications breakdowns, the group says. Pantomime is often used to convey orders and instructions.

    So the Independent contractors guarding out embassy staff in a war zone are from India and don’t speak much English – with the result that State is actively trying to hire mimes for it staff (ok one part of that isn’t right, but it’s the only part that might be a good idea).

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      POGO’s work is usually first rate. Here, it addresses a stunning lack of leadership by both ArmorGroup, the mercenaries hired to “protect” the US embassy in Afghanistan, and an equally appalling lack of leadership by the State Department in blindly accepting dangerously incompetent leadership by them.

      As for ArmorGroup’s hiring of Gurkhas to do its work, many Gurkhas are first rate soldiers and exceptional mountain warfare specialists. The nationality of those AG hires is less critical than that AG has demonstrably failed to train, lead and discipline its troops. And the US State Dept merely slips its head into the sand and leaves the safety of its staff up in the air like the backside of an ostrich.

      Operating misbehavior or criminal conduct by these mercenary troops will, of course, be the political liability of the US.

      • Mary says:

        I don’t doubt that Gurkhas are good soldiers, but I don’t think it makes lots of sense to hire as mercenaries to protect our state dept employees in a war zone (ok – I could almost stop there, bc in an ideal world where we hadn’t chosen to make US wars a profit center for entrepreneurs and weren’t overstretched, you’d want US soliders protecting our state dept employees) where the mercenaries don’t speak English well and our state dept employees don’t speak the mercenaries’ language well.

        That just seems like a bad idea to me, even with good mercenaries who aren’t running amok in a lord of the flies atmosphere. It’s like when we sent guys who didn’t speak the detainees language OR English very well to GITMO to “translate.”

        • skdadl says:

          You’re really reading that report differently than I am. It looks to me as though it’s the guards — probably the Gurkhas — who are being harrassed by cowboy supervisors.

          • Mary says:

            I don’t think I’m reading it differently at all. I read it as the supervisors being the wild cowboys too.

            What I was commenting about about wasn’t the wild cowboy stuff though, that others had already mentioned. It as the part of the story that had to do with the Ghurkas not speaking English. My reading is that this is a bad thing in and of itself even if there were no tag line on the other cowboy stuff out there. I do defer to you on the point that the story may be wrong and they may speak English fine. If the story is true and they don’t speak English well (and it doesn’t mention Pashtun) then I think you have a recipe for disaster independent of whether they were supervised by saints or not.

            To be in a war zone and be guarded by someone that you can’t communicate with seems a bad thing to me, as a story independent of the more lurid details in the main story.

    • skdadl says:

      Gurkhas don’t speak “adequate English”? I find that very hard to believe. It may be that their English is too good for the ruffian supervisors who are harrassing them.

      • Mary says:

        I’ll defer to you and EarloH if you think that reference in the article is likely untrue. I’d trust either of you more. *g*

      • Mary says:

        I think the Gurkhhas originated ethnically in India and crossed over into Nepal, but I’m not expert. Just some Rudyard Kiplingesque passing knowledge that they caused the Brits huge headaches and in the end the Brits decided it was better to hire them as mercenaries than fight them. Or something like that.

    • bmaz says:

      Jon Turley was just on Maddow and when asked for his prime suggestions said Koh and Diane Wood. Was a little surprised he didn’t mention Erwin, but Koh and Wood would both be great choices.

  11. gaiilonfong says:

    OYE what a lousy post…Sotomayor is a righty! LMAO The Obama derangement by some on this site is hysterical. All the GREAT GREAT amazing work FDL has been doing on healthcare and then this post…….

  12. dosido says:

    Whatever opinion one has of Justice Sotomayor, there is simply no way possible to view her elevation to the Supreme Court as doing anything substantive to stanch the rightward flow of momentum on the Supreme Court.

    I couldn’t agree more and have been saying “be careful what we cheer for” since before she was cleared by the Senate and before the Newts declared her a “racialist”. Anyone who passes the Bush 41 sniff test has to be scrutinized and I’m glad bmaz wrote this post.

    • arcadesproject says:

      Yeah. I got the sense, regarding the Sotomayor elevation, that her personal success story was the big deal. She wasn’t supposed, necessarily, to enable anybody else’s success, or to further any particularly progressive ends. And increasingly, I’m seeing Obama in the same light. “Look at me. I’m a great success. Isn’t that wonderful? I hope you appreciate it because the rest of you are on your own.”

  13. PriscillaQOB says:

    As Atrios would say, “Simple answer to a simple question: YES.”

    At this point I think it’s pretty clear that Obama isn’t capable of anything remotely progressive, leftist, or, well, traditionally Democratic.

    He’ll make a lot of noise about bipartisanship and listening to all sides then he’ll select a candidate that the worst rightwing demagogues in both parties will admire and someone whom the gazillionaire corporatists will find acceptable. Someone that Bush or McCain would’ve been perfectly comfortable nominating. Someone who can garner 85+ Senate votes for confirmation.

    That’s been the modus operandi so far when it comes to bank “reform,” health care “reform,” military “strategy,” and legal “policy,” so I think it’s a safe bet to say this is what we have until 2012. The chance that this president or this congress will do anything even slightly partisan is about equal to everyone named Mary winning the lottery simultaneously in every state.

  14. ART45 says:

    Obama will make an uninspired choice, if Sotomayer is a guide.

    Nothing wrong with Sotomayer — just don’t expect her to be a Brandeis, Holmes, or Frankfurter. Her opinions are likely to be right up the middle in terms of Supreme Court precedents.

    Of all the ways Obama is disappointing, his choice of Sotomayer and the sort of person he is likely to pick for Stevens’s slot are perhaps the most revealing about his approach to things. He doesn’t swing for the fences. He’ll settle for a walk, if he can get it.

  15. Jo Fish says:

    I’m so fucking disgusted with Obama and his gutting of the progressive causes that propelled him to his current rental property that It would not surprise me at all to see him appoint a pro-US Chamber of Commerce attorney or judge endorsed by the Federalist Society.

    After all, we have to maintain that pro-business “bipartisan” thing, don’t we? Because we all just have to get along.

    Under the boot-heel of our corporate masters.

  16. tinman1967 says:

    A little movement to the right might get us back to the middle where reason would prevail. That wouldn’t be bad.

    • Mary says:

      Exactly. Prevailing rightwing reason did away with Glass Stegall, supported an off the books credit default swaps gambling bloat that equalled the world GDP and cratered the world economic system. Prevailing rightwing reason promoted poverty (apparently trying help a few more into heaven) and dissembled the nation’s standing in both education and healthcares, sending us spiralling towards the bottom for industrialized countries, all with a larger per capita cost than any others. Prevailing rightwing reason got us into two missonless wars, and lord only knows we NEED a few more. Prevailing rightwing reason had people with anti-Bush t-shirts tossed into jail, but delivers semi automatics to surround town halls and protect the rights of insurance companies to make lots of money while denying coverage. Prevailing rightwing reason had us kidnapping and torturing stray Canadians and Germans with the wrong funny name and triggered terrorist recruiting on a massive scale and placed servicemen and women and Americans throughout the world directly at rist from plots that directly stem from anger at our policies of unapologetic torture of men that we know were innocent.

      If only we could get more to the right of that.

      I can see where you got your themesong tinman –

      If you only had a heart and your friends only had a brain and some nerve.

  17. Hugh says:

    Chemerinsky or Sullivan. Or how about Bernie Sanders? That would be a liberal choice. Or how about Al Gore?

    The problem is that Obama is a corporatist and he is going to choose somebody considerably to the right of Stevens.

  18. ShotoJamf says:

    How about Alberto Gonzalez? He’s only marginally employed at the moment. I’m pretty sure he’d take the gig…

  19. foothillsmike says:

    If they don’t approve Dawn Johnson for OLC then nominate her for the Supreme Court and cram her down the throat of the rethugs.

    • cinnamonape says:

      Actually that would be great comeuppance for their stalling from making her wait for the Office of Legal Counsel, wouldn’t it.

      And there’s no quorum veto for SC appointments.

  20. Leen says:

    Can’t get any further right (wrong) than the 2000 Supreme Court selection of President Bush. How much more wrong can the Supreme Court go?

    Hey Bmaz did the Supreme Court turn down the Plame outing case? Is that right? I know this is off topic but Can you explain why?

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, they did, and it was neither shocking not inappropriate for them to do so. I wish Bates had written the decision differently, but he was arguably on solid ground in light of how the suit was pled by the plaintiffs. I would have been shocked beyond belief if the Supremes had accepted cert on the Plame civil case.

    • MartyDidier says:

      The Supreme Court would be expected in my opinion to go as far as needed to support decisions supporting the White House Coup. The Coup by design is to work from the inside out, hence all functions need to somehow fall in line with supporting the Coup’s goals.

      The Plame case to me is a good test to see how serious they are about needing a cover up in the Federal area. There appears to be a lot more coming so Plame isn’t the only one and no doubt they know it.

      Marty Didier
      Northbrook, IL

  21. Hugh says:

    So the list so far looks like:

    Howard Koh
    Kathleen Sullivan
    Diane Wood
    Erwin Chemerinsky
    Bernie Sanders
    Al Gore
    Dawn Johnsen
    Jonathan Turley
    Royce Lamberth
    Reggie Walton
    Vaughn Walker

    Ellen Huvelle was the judge in the Jawad case. There have been several judges and attorneys involved in Guantanamo litigation who have acquitted themselves well. And I have always had a soft spot for Seth Waxman who did the oral argument in Boumediene.

  22. DrZen says:

    You’d all suffer a lot less if you accepted that Obama is not a progressive and has zero interest in what progressives want. He’ll start pretending in year 3, the rhetoric will be soaring, he’ll promise that the second term will be when all the progressive stuff gets done and the same people will wet their undies all over again, and you’ll get another term of Bush lite.

    • bmaz says:

      What makes you think I was sold on Obama as a progressive hammer or that I wet my undies the first time? Because I do not think that either I or anybody else that writes at FDL was all that googlyeyed about the situation.

    • MartyDidier says:

      Good Question…
      Many of my earlier posts talk about links with Obam and the family I was in as setting up a huge Drug Distribution business in Florida. It’s this situation and many things the family said that signify his link with the Combine/Shadow Government. Plus others have researched and found other information supporting this link. Please accept my earlier post that talks about our two main Parties as really being one who DON’T WANT OUR CONSTITUTION. They goal is in supporting a White House Coup and please accept that I know this because I was in a family for more than 26 years who have been since the later 70’s directly involved in the Coup’s efforts.

      Marty Didier
      Northbrook, IL

  23. sporkovat says:

    Whatever opinion one has of Justice Sotomayor, there is simply no way possible to view her elevation to the Supreme Court as doing anything substantive to stanch the rightward flow of momentum on the Supreme Court.

    wait, wasn’t Supreme Court picks the trump card that Democrats always trotted out whenever someone said something like “I just can’t in good conscience vote for someone who is going to escalate Bush’s failed war in Afghanistan and try to keep Iraq as a colonial province?”

    jeez, enough voting against your interests already, (D) captured progressives, try voting your actual conscience sometime, it’s not as bad as you think.

  24. Mary says:

    @75 First rounds on me.

    It wouldn’t break my heart to see David Hamilton get pulled out of the 7th Cir nomination he has right now and bumped up. For some reason I never realized his brother John is married to Dawn Johnsen, but that’s what a blurb said when I pulled up his pending nomination.

    Way way way back when, I went to a few gradeschool classes with John – we served some detention time together. *g* Makes me like Dawn even more, but I still think Obama doesn’t really want her in the slot until he already gets everything he wants squared away.

  25. rapier says:

    I strongly suspect Sotomayor will be a supporter, in general, of corporate rights. I suspect just as strongly that the next nominee will be in the tank for corporations. It’s game set match then.

  26. emerson says:

    A question for the attorneys on board:

    Wouldn’t Stevens himself hold substantial power in deciding whom his successor will be? It’s not his ultimate decision, but wouldn’t he hold a lot of cards in that he doesn’t HAVE TO retire if he thinks Obama would replace him as top liberal of the Supremes with another right leaning moderate? Do Supremes at 87 years of age still harbor their life-long ideologies enough to see them upheld as they reach the end of life?

    I would think Stevens can give Obama quite a political lesson if he has the energy and inclination.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, first off, Stevens is 89 not 87 and it has long been understood that he would likely retire during the next Democratic administration. The long and short is I think he will be gone sometime during Obama’s tenure in the White House, so I don’t think he has that much power. And holding out when you really want to retire is something justices do when the President is from the adverse party, not nearly so much as when he is of the party associated with the retiring justice.

      • emerson says:

        Thank you. I understand Supremes would wait until a more empathetic party president was in the WH, but I read daily here that most believe the last thing Obama is would be liberal/progressive in any fashion. So if the standard labels no longer apply, why would the most liberal judge on the highest court regard Obama as being on the same side of most issues and even opposed to major issues of the day, eg a poster speculating about Sotomayer’s stand on abortion as a practicing Catholic in this thread?

        Why wouldn’t the liberal Stevens, especially in view of Obama’s only nomination being a moderate, look upon Obama as being the adversary? And if that was the case, couldn’t he exert pressure especially in terms of his public stance for a liberal successor as the midterms approach and voters are more apt to be listening?

        I mean, at 89 years of age (corrected), what does he have to lose?

        • bmaz says:

          Holding out until it is too late in Obama’s term or that Obama loses in 2012. Not saying it couln’t be done, just that it won’t be I don’t think.

          • emerson says:

            Midterms meaning 2010. The idea that Congress would look much different than it does now and presumably make it more difficult for Obama to get his programs through..

      • bzick says:

        Nitty picky note re: “holding out when you really want to retire is something justices do when the President is from the adverse party, not nearly so much as when he is of the party associated with the retiring justice.”

        Your wording was notably quite careful, but for the sake of clarity, Stevens was appointed by Gerald Ford. It may be true that Obama is, in Steven’s case, not “from the adverse party” and that Stevens is inaccurately considered by the ignorant to be associated with the Democrats. But he was appointed by a Republican.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, technically of course you are quite right. However, the Republican party Stevens from back when Stevens was appointed no longer exists. I believe today there would be almost universal acceptance, including by Stevens himself, that his ideals are, of the two parties, far more associated with the “liberal” Democrats.

      • emerson says:

        Thanks Hugh. Do you believe a sitting President confers with an outgoing Supreme about his/her successor? Or is it just that a President doesn’t really care about their recommendations, even if they are of the same party?

        • MartyDidier says:

          Good question…. My opinion is it’s important to Stack The Deck, meaning that knowing the functions surrounding decision making it’s important to make sure all areas are stacked! This may seem simple in thought but realize that there is a White House Coup in place and it’s working from the Inside Out not from the Outside In.

          Marty Didier
          Northbrook, IL

    • LabDancer says:

      I’ll take Signs of the Times for $500, Alex!

      “Picking NFL winners off the Monday line,
      making life choices based on Rasmussen polls in an off-election year;

      putting your entire investment portfolio on the line based on the next thing out the mouth of Maria Bartiromo;

      taking the “under” on guessing the cost of health care premiums for the assistant to a blind-folded knife tosser on magic mushrooms;

      putting your mortgage payment on Red 34,
      buying any lottery ticket;

      banking on the capacity of magical unicorns to win a concept war: Pick all, any, or one: Poverty–Drugs– Terror–Stoopid;

      flipping any coin; and

      Andrew McCarthy.”

      What are seven trustworthy things?

      “Nooooooo; over to you, Gertrude…”

      What are six things more trustworthy than Andrew McCarthy?

      “…judges? Gertrude: …and…???”

      Uh…and Andrew McCarthy?

      “For the steal!”

  27. davidgmills says:

    LLoyd Dogget, the US rep from Austin, was on the Texas Supreme Court for years. Wrote absolutely great opinions and was very progressive.

    A sleeper for the northeastern crowd. But he was great.

    • bmaz says:

      Interesting. I have heard of Doggett, but would have never thought of him. Thanks for the suggestion, I agree from what I know and a quick search that he would be a very good candidate. The only negative is he is already 62 and the trend has been to try to get nominees in their mid 50s. Nice call.

  28. tjallen says:

    I was going to say Peter Singer, til I found out he was Australian.

    What about Katha Pollitt? One of the wisest people we’ve got on the left.

    The court should be going after the great issues of the day. bmaz your point here is sad, and need not be true, and shows the dysfunction of the court, which you seem inclined to go along with:

    litigation has gotten very complicated and much of what the Supreme Court has to unravel anymore is procedural and evidentiary based as opposed to grand principles. I honestly think a non-lawyer would have a rough go of it and, sadly, is probably a bad idea to install a non-lawyer on the court anymore.

    Just shows the court has lost its way. Of course a group of 12 lawyers will see everything turning on evidentiary and procedural rules. If the court had 12 literary theorists, everything would turn on a different set of ideals, That’s why the Supreme Court ought to look more like us, and not a bunch of lawyers. Saying ordinary (educated, professional) Americans must be lawyers to be on the court makes it a priesthood.

    • bmaz says:

      I made no position statement on it at all, it is just a fact from what I witness every day and have seen as a trend over the last couple of decades. I really do not think it is a bad thing to have the people being the ultimate arbiters of the law be actually trained and at least semi-experienced in the law.

Comments are closed.