Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Sen. Collins: Your vote will matter more

I just heard a Republican U.S. senator from Maine make a preposterous declaration.

Susan Collins is going to be at Ground Zero in the debate over whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. The battle lines are being drawn.

It’s along abortion and whether Kavanaugh would uphold the Roe v. Wade decision that in 1973 made abortion legal in the United States.

Collins already has said that she cannot support a SCOTUS nominee who doesn’t believe Roe v. Wade is “settled law.”

Then today she said that her vote “doesn’t count any more than my 99 colleagues” in the Senate.

Wrong, senator! Given the stakes and the apparent lineup that’s taking shape in the Senate, your vote counts more.

It counts a lot more!

Lifetime job has this way of shaping opinions

I tend to interpret the U.S. Constitution the way I interpret the Bible.

That is, I take a more liberal view of what both documents say. That’s just my view. I am not a “strict constructionist” as it regards the Constitution; nor am I a “fundamentalist” as it regards the Bible.

But let’s consider what the future might hold for the body that interprets the former document, the Constitution.

Donald J. Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to join the U.S. Supreme Court. He comes to this nomination after being recommended highly by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, two staunchly conservative think tanks.

Now, what does this mean for Kavanaugh’s tenure on the high court?

I’ll give you my hope for what happens. I hope Kavanaugh proves to be as unpredictable as previous “conservative” justices who were nominated by “conservative” presidents.

The record going back more than six decades is full of how this has occurred.

  • President Eisenhower appointed two “conservatives” to the high court: Earl Warren as chief justice and William Brennan as an associate justice. They both proved to be progressive in the extreme.
  • President Nixon tapped Harry Blackmun to the high court, only to watch as Blackmun wrote the majority opinion in the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.
  • President Ford’s pick to the court, John Paul Stevens, turned out to be a reliably liberal vote.
  • President George H.W. Bush nominated David Souter, who then turned out to be a liberal justice as well.

President Reagan nominated two justices — Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy — who became quite a bit less reliably conservative than the president would have wanted.

No one really saw these justices’ service turning out as they did in advance.

Thus, it well might be that Judge Brett Kavanaugh could join the list of conservatives who take a more, um, expansive view of the Constitution.

That is my hope. But, hey, I’m just one guy — a blogger out here in Flyover Country — who wants history to repeat itself.

SCOTUS nominee needs to get set for big battle

Brett Kavanaugh is now headed for the fight of his life.

He stands nominated to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. He is 53 years of age. We know a good bit more about his personal history: only child of two two lawyers; father of two daughters, one of whom he said “likes to talk a lot”; married to a West Texan.

He also pledges to be faithful to the U.S. Constitution. But that’s what all Supreme Court justice nominees pledge to do.

What happens next? He’s going to make the rounds of senators who will vote up or down on his nomination.  He won’t answer questions about how he would vote on specific issues that come before the high court.

Kavanaugh won’t have to answer those questions for senators to get a good read on this man’s judicial philosophy. He has a lengthy paper trail of opinions he has written, of essays, a history of serving as a clerk for the justice he seeks to succeed on the court, Anthony Kennedy.

If I could ask him one question it would be this: Do you consider Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in this country to be “settled law”? I would prefer him to answer “yes.”

If he says “no” or refuses to answer because he might have to decide an abortion case, well, that’s troubling.

This nomination will proceed, despite protests from those — such as me — who think the Senate should await the results of the midterm election this fall before considering this nomination.

I won’t predict how it will turn out. I feel comfortable suggesting that this confirmation process is going to be a donnybrook.

Self-awareness, Mr. Majority Leader?

I could barely contain myself. I wanted to toss a shoe at the TV set as I listened to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemn what he called “far left” resistance to whomever Donald J. Trump would appoint to the Supreme Court.

Why, he just cannot fathom how these groups could make such judgments without even knowing who the president plans to select.

Wow! Does the majority leader — who made his remarks in a Senate floor speech — not remember what he said immediately after Antonin Scalia died in early 2016, creating a vacancy on the high court?

Let me remind him. About an hour after Justice Scalia died, McConnell declared that no one whom President Obama would appoint would get a hearing and a confirmation vote. He declared the president’s pick dead and buried. Obama had nearly a year left in office when McConnell mounted his successful obstruction campaign.

So now he is accusing lefties of pre-judging any appointment that would come from Donald Trump.

Does anyone else see the irony of this idiocy? He is leveling an accusation against a political opponent that he could have leveled against himself when the previous president sought to fulfill his constitutional responsibility.

This is rich.

SCOTUS pick fueled by ratings

Donald J. Trump just cannot shuck his past as a TV celebrity.

Thus, the president of the United States plans to announce his selection to the U.S. Supreme Court at 9 p.m. Monday.

That’s prime time, man!

Many millions of eyes will be on him when he trots out the next nominee to the court, the individual who is expected to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who’s retiring at the end of the month.

I won’t belabor the point, but it does seem cheesy and it seems to devalue the importance of the selection. I remain somewhat concerned that when Trump announces the name of the individual that he’s going to make this event more about him than about the person who’ll don the black robes and make critically important decisions that affect all Americans.

That’s the Trump way.

Will the SCOTUS pick adhere to the RBG Rule?

I’ve been hearing some chatter in recent days about the RBG Rule, named after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

President Clinton nominated Justice Ginsburg to the high court in 1993 and she promptly made one thing clear: She would not comment on any question that she believed could compromise the integrity of a decision she might make in a future court hearing.

Her intention was to avoid revealing how she might rule.

The RBG Rule has stood the test of time over the past 25 years.

Donald J. Trump is set to select someone to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring at the end of this month after 30 years on the Supreme Court.

Here’s my hope for the next pick: He or she should make the same pledge that RBG made in 1993. What’s more, liberal members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which will consider the merits of this nomination, should honor that nominee’s pledge … if the nominee makes it.

There likely will be plenty of grist to pore through once the president reveals the identity of his nominee. I keep hearing that all the finalists the president is considering have considerable judicial experience and have developed lengthy and clearly defined paper trails that reveal much about their judicial philosophy.

Should whoever gets nominated be forced to answer how he or she would vote on, say, Roe v. Wade, or on the president’s travel ban, or on affirmative action, or campaign finance?

This nomination is likely to proceed to a relatively swift up/down vote on confirmation, despite the concerns of many that we ought to wait for the midterm election to determine the Senate composition. The Senate majority leader insisted on the completion of an election prior to considering someone to replace the late Antonin Scalia, right?

If the Senate is going to plow ahead with a confirmation process to determine who succeeds Justice Kennedy, then the RBG Rule needs to stand.

Will the SCOTUS announcement center on POTUS?

I believe it’s fair to wonder aloud about how Donald Trump is going to handle his planned announcement of the next person he will nominate for a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court.

I am wondering how much time the president is going to spend talking about the quality of the selection process, about how much time he spent poring over the finalists’ qualifications and about how conscientious he was in selecting the nominee?

In short, will this announcement be at least as much about the president as it is about the person he will nominate?

We’re going to find out soon. Let it be said that I don’t give a rip about the brilliance of Trump’s selection process. I do care about whether this individual is qualified and whether he or she will become a judicial activist.

Is there a huge SCOTUS surprise coming?

The media are zeroing in on three appeals court judges being considered for a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

They are Raymond Kethledge, Brett Cavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Why do I keep getting this feeling in my rumbling gut that Donald Trump is going to go with someone else? He is so very unpredictable, so mercurial that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him nominate someone who isn’t necessarily on anyone’s radar.

My only hope — and it’s a long shot — is that the president comes up with a “consensus” choice, someone who can earn the support of all the competing factions within the U.S. Senate.

If only I could trust the president and the team that surrounds him to deliver the goods.

Wait for Mueller before making SCOTUS pick?

An interesting idea is being floated by those with some stake in the president’s next selection for the U.S. Supreme Court.

It goes like this: Donald Trump should wait for special counsel Robert Mueller to finish his probe into the “Russia thing” before making his choice known. Think for a moment about this. What if Mueller determines there is some criminality involved in the Trump presidential campaign’s dealing with Russian goons who meddled in our 2016 election? What happens if that case ends up eventually before the nation’s highest court?

Does the president deserve to select someone who might have a material interest in determining the legal fate of a case involving the president, his campaign and, indeed, the presidency itself?

There’s plenty of chatter already that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should allow the midterm election to determine the Senate composition before sending this nomination up for a Senate vote; the Senate must confirm this appointment. McConnell did manage to block President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in early 2016 shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama had nearly a year left in his presidency, but McConnell said the Senate needed to wait until the presidential election before considering anyone for the court.

Mueller well might be getting near the end of his exhaustive probe. Should we wait for the special counsel to finish his task and deliver his report to America? Sure. Why not?

SCOTUS becomes a midterm campaign issue

The midterm elections are four months away. The entire U.S. House of Representatives is up for grabs, along with one-third of the U.S. Senate.

But forget about the individual seats taking center stage. My hunch is that the Supreme Court will rise to the level of Campaign Issue No. 1, particularly as it involves the Senate.

Senators will get to decide who succeeds Anthony Kennedy, who retires at the end of July from the seat he has held for 30 years on the nation’s highest court.

Kennedy is considered a “swing vote.” Donald Trump is likely to nominate a hard-core conservative to succeed him. The balance of power on the court could change for decades to come.

Whoever gets confirmed could determine the fate of women’s reproductive rights, myriad issues involving religion, campaign finance, environmental regulations.

Do you think the federal judiciary is “above politics”? Guess again.