Monday, May 02, 2005

Georgie Bush and the Supremes

I need to find, find someone to call mine.
President Bush has a problem. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist is likely to retire this year. Other Justices are aging and likely to die or retire soon. This sounds like an opportunity for our Dear Leader to remake the court. But it will be tough for him to get a justice as conservative as he would prefer.

But all you do is treat me bad,
break my heart and leave me sad.
Congressional Democrats by now are wise to the fact that Bush's agenda isn't one of "limited government" and "originalism." They have realized that his principles come from the radical right. And Senate Democrats have finally rediscovered unity and backbone. Dear Leader is having trouble with lesser federal judgeships, and they would be just a warm-up for the Supreme Court.

It's a game of give and take.
Any radical right-winger will face intense scrutiny, and will therefore face either of two problems. If there's a substantial record (of judicial opinions, laws passed, political writing), the nominee will be opposed on the basis of the record. If there's no record to scrutinize — a "stealth candidate," like Clarence Thomas — the nominee will be opposed on grounds of inexperience.

Why you do me like you do
after I've been true to you?
Besides, a lifetime appointment gives freedom that makes any nominee a risk (look at David Souter). Bush's favorite Supremes — Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas — all served in the executive branch: Thomas as head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Rehnquist and Scalia in the Office of Legal Counsel. So if a reliably extreme right-wing record is impossible, deference to the executive branch could be the next best thing.

Suddenly, I hear a symphony.
Bush's Chief Justice nominee should be both a thinker and a doer, someone with experience both as a law school professor and a prosecutor. It wouldn't hurt to be close to the Bush family. Bush needs somebody Democrats can't resist. A great candidate would make Dems swoon so hard they give Bush all his other appointments — the currently-stalled federal judges and any future associate justices on the Supreme Court. The ideal nomination would even weaken the Democratic Party and throw it into disarray.

Baby, think it over
think it over, baby.
There's no such person, right? How 'bout Bill Clinton? Clinton is a friend of the Bush family. He was a law school professor and later Arkansas Attorney General. And I think he's had a little experience in the executive branch. Putting Bill Clinton on the Court would complicate Democratic politics while removing the Dems' most effective campaigner since RFK. How much would Senate Democrats give up in exchange for his nomination?

[crossposted at Daily Kos]


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