Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saint Stevens

Justice John Paul Stevens' retirement from the Supreme Court severs the county's last link with the great Warren Court: Stevens, nominated in 1975 to replace William O. Douglas, served with Warren Court members William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall. Stevens has served seven presidents and has the fourth-longest tenure in court history. Although appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford (and confirmed by a 98-0 vote, if you can believe that), Stevens proved to be a reliable liberal. He told The New Yorker earlier this year that he would retire while Barack Obama was president, and has been as good as his word.

Over the next few weeks, the media will speculate on short lists and long lists. Liberals will argue for a liberal nominee, moderates will push for a moderate, independents will push for an independent, and conservatives would oppose David Petraeus if Obama nominated him. Although part of me would like Obama to pick a fight by nominating someone as liberal as John Roberts and Samuel Alito are conservative, in the end I tend to think that that is unimportant. In the first place, the conservative bloc of the court is so reactionary that it's unlikely that a moderate will ever side with it in a closely decided case. Moreover, there's something to be said for a persuasive, politically savvy moderate liberal who can build a relationship with Anthony Kennedy and work to bring his vote around on key decisions.

Failing that, how about Hillary Clinton? Even the Republicans wouldn't filibuster one of their own, it would drive the right absolutely bonkers, and she would lend the court genuine liberal stature...

Historically, Supreme Court Chief Justices have been a motley, feckless lot. After reading Peter Iron's excellent A People's History of the Supreme Court, I concluded that there have been exactly two great CJ's: The liberal Earl Warren (1953-1969) and the conservative John Marshall (1801-1835), who was by any definition as much as judicial activist as Warren...

Republicans promise a fight if Obama nominates a a judicial activist, which the party that prevailed in Bush v. Gore defines with a straight face as "someone driven by a preferred result rather than by the law..."

Teabagging for Dick...

Foxessa has reviews of Treme here. The countdown to Sunday continues!...

Business Week says that Obamanomics is working. I'm not sure what kind of recommendation that is, and you have to believe that the stock market is a leading indicator of overall economic health. But even if you don't, no one can accuse BW of being a fellow traveler with the Daily Worker...

Birdy Breakfast: Snow White and Lemon Dwarf...

It's o.k. with me if you get knocked up as long as you're both underage...

Birds On A Wire attends a evening of Elvis music and anecdotes in Pittsfield, MA. At the end of the program, everyone is invited join a chorus of...Dixie?...

JUST A SONG: All along the watchtower, princes kept the view...

Der Mittster: He's for it and he's against it...

The Dead, "St. Stephen," and "Playboy After Dark" (nice glasses, Phil):

8 comments:

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

This will be interesting. Hillary Clinton, now that's a great idea! I've heard Pres. Clinton's name bandied about as well, but wonder about the reality of this; but Mrs. Clinton, hmmm.

tnlib said...

Obama could appoint McConnell or Boehner and the Republicans would object. I have no doubt that they're going to stall the process as long as they can.

K. said...

LF: Bill would be great. I suspect that his health eliminates him, though. I believe that William Howard Taft remains the only former president to serve on the court, and that was the job he preferred all along. For some reason: Taft was yet another undistinguished CJ.

tnlib: LOL! Throw Dick Cheney into the mix, too!

TaraDharma said...

This is going to be very interesting, and probably painful. Like Maddow sez, he needs to appoint a liberal to maintain the balance of the court, but the right wing nuts are going to go ballistic. I appreciated the commentary on Rachel last night that reminded us all that Stevens was a Republican Old White Male and he still became a voice of reason on the Court.

BTW, Happy Birthday!

Roy said...

I heard a panel discussion on NPR where someone suggested the ideal choice would be someone with the reputation of being a scholar, which sounds to me like the definition of a moderate. I'm not sure either Clinton would fit the bill (oops! sorry for the unintentional pun!); I still don't trust either one of them.

Mitt's mascot must be the Pushmi-pullyu!

How did that doofus in WI ever get elected to public office?

I understand from T's blog that birthday greetings are in order; many happy returns, K!

Foxessa said...

First -- Many returns of the day to you, sir!

Second -- I've added another link to that post of contrasting Tremé reviews, one by Katy Reckdahl, in which Sylvester Francis of the Backstreet Museum expresses concern about the show perhaps accelerating the gentrification and rising propery prices that were already pushing out the Indians and musicians pre-K.

Third -- Hillary Clinton doesn't now and never has been a liberal, much less a leftist, by most criteria -- certainly not by mine! :) But she'd work very hard.

Love, C.

Annette said...

As I said at MommaPoliticos, Hilary isn't liberal enough.. she is much more moderate and right leaning than Pres. Obama... I just don't think she would fit.. and if you think they wouldn't give her as much trouble as anyone... I think you are underestimating the contempt the Rethugs have for her and for the President.

I still think Jennifer Granholm or Dianne Wood is the best bets... Granholm is term limited so she will be out of a job this year.... I think she would be an awesome pick...

Dianne Wood has a history with Obama in that they were both professors in Chicago.. So that I am sure will weigh heavily in her favor.

I think the only reason she didn't get picked last time was due to them wanting a Hispanic type on the bench.

But, he could have someone completely different in mind... I just hope it isn't Kagan or Garland..

There is another possibility... Dawn Johnsen... she is now available... Now that would be interesting....lol

tnlib said...

I think the mere mention of Hillary would cause Sessions to go into cardiac arrest. No, she's not liberal but that's how she's perveived by the friendly opposition.