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Friday, April 27, 2007 

Take Your Pick

I'm currently in the library trying to figure out what the hell Justice Stewart thought about the Press Clause. I decided to take a break to discuss one aspect of the first Democratic Presidential debate (transcript available here, thanks Prof. Althouse). Actually, I'll be making one comment before jumping into my chosen topic. Does Gravel remind you of Grandpa Simpson? Am I the only one who gets that vibe from him?

Anyway, I really wanted to highlight the portion of the debate about Supreme Court Justices (editorial comments in bold)...
MODERATOR: And, Governor Richardson, we're going to start with you. The question is your model Supreme Court justice?

RICHARDSON: It would be Justice "Whizzer" White. White hated that nickname. Zombie Justice White is rising from the grave to seek vengeance on Richardson as I type this.

MODERATOR: How about someone who is among the living?


RICHARDSON: It would be -- in this particular case, Judge Ginsburg, who said that this was an erosion of a woman's right to chose and degraded the ability of a woman to protect herself health wise.


Again, name or pass, Senator Dodd?

DODD: Well, I would mention Justice Brennan, but you've excluded him...


DODD: ... because of obvious reasons.

And I would agree with the choice made by -- Justice Ginsburg. I think she was eloquent in her dissent in this opinion, and certainly someone that I would -- I would respect.

MODERATOR: And, Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: I missed it. No past justices? "I missed it?" What was he doing, playing with his iPod? Pay attention.

MODERATOR: A model Supreme Court justice alive today?

MODERATOR: And I've just been informed, this is taking so long, you'll be the final person to handle this question.


EDWARDS: Ginsburg or Breyer.

MODERATOR: All right. Justice Ginsburg or Justice Breyer, both of them sitting on the current court.
I was a little shocked when Richardson picked White. Justice White was a Kennedy appointee, but he was hardly a liberal. While he was a supporter of certain Democrat-favored policies like affirmative action, he railed against substantive due process. He dissented in Roe and wrote the majority opinion in Bowers v Hardwick. He would hardly be the poster boy for the judicial philosophy of the modern Democratic Party.

When restricted by the moderator, Richardson switched his pick to Justice Ginsburg. She was White's replacement on the Court, but they are far from philosophical clones. It's especially interesting that Richardson went on to praise Ginsburg for her dissent in Carhart II. Justice White surely would have been voting the opposite way in that case. I wonder if anyone will ask him to explain this.

Dood and Edwards took the safe road by picking Ginsburg and/or Breyer. They are the only two Democratic appointees currently on the Court. If they really wanted to stick it to the Republicans, one of them should've said that Souter was their model Justice. That would've been a big thumb to the eye to the GOP. Souter is still a very, very sore subject.

Before this exchange, there was a lengthy discussion about the Carhart II decision. If I didn't have to get back to my studying, I'd discuss that a little... maybe later. I hope that the Court is a more prominent topic in these debates.

Personally I'm hoping that we never have to find out who any of these folks would pollute the Supreme Court with. The suggestions of Dean Koh that rattled around Prawfsblawg recently turned my blood to ice.

I felt the same fear. Harold Koh has no business being anywhere near the Supreme Court.

John Edwards made a very insightful comment during the debate: "I would say first that this decision by the Supreme Court is actually a perfect example of what's at stake in this election." The 2008 election is going to determine the direction of the Court for the next decade.

If a Republican wins and doesn't blow the nomination, it will shift the Court solidly to the Right. If a Democrat wins, he or she will be able to lock up a number of seats for decades.

I'm quite worried.

My prediction is that nobody will query Richardson on this. Why not? Because nobody really cares whom Richardson would nominate. He doesn't have a ghost of a chance of winning the nomination.

I could see Richardson as the VP nominee. He's got a lot of VP-like experience, he's the governor of a Western state (electoral votes that the Democrats would love to pick up), and he's Hispanic. He won't win the presidential nomination though.

Okay, it looks like I was totally wrong that nobody would notice. RedState says that MSNBC says that Richardson says that he forgot about Justice White's vote in Roe. I apologize for the error.

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  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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