"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Next Supreme Court Justice

Manuel Miranda, former counsel to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and founder and chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of grassroots organizations following judicial issues, has been doing some excellent analyses for Opinion Journal.

In his latest article, he examines the likely contenders to replace Justice O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Miranda looks at three categories of judges, each having political pluses and minuses. The interesting thing is that he identifes numerous strong jurists who fit Bush's criteria for judicial philosophy and temperament, which means that political and confirmability considerations may well be a very large factor in the president's decision-making process.

Most interesting was the mention of three Senators who could do the job but would not fit the perceived need for an additional woman to be named to the Court with the current choice. Bush went outside the original expected candidates in previously choosing John Roberts for O'Connor's vacating seat, and a surprise candidate remains a possibility. The list Miranda compiles, however, is plausible, as are his comments on the candidates. Read it here.

8 comments:

Tlaloc said...

While I still believe that Roberts was a surprisingly good choice for bush to have made I don't think nominating him for chief justice is a good idea. I'd be far more comfortable with him nominating say Scalia even though I don't agree with Scalia's judicial views (or lack thereof) at least the guy has experience working on the court.

Somehow this like hiring a rookie firefighter and before he starts making him fire chief, in other words a dumb idea.

The good news is that the nomination of the surprisingly competent and non-reactionary Roberts seemed to be a direct result of the pressure on Bush from Rove getting caught exposing a CIA operative. Maybe the pressure from Bush's total screw up of the hurricane damage will result in yet another surprisingly good pick.

Kathy Hutchins said...

I don't agree with Miranda that the short list is restricted to his three categories. I still think Luttig and McConnell are in the running.

I adore Scalia, and daydreaming about the phrase "Scalia Court" makes the back of my neck tingle. But Scalia would be a terrible Chief Justice, and I doubt he's very interested in the job anyway. He relishes his role as a bomb-thrower and writer of biting criticisms of his court colleagues. He'd have to cut all that stuff out if he were Chief Justice. It's much more about temperament than experience, anyway; if someone's fit to be nominated, they know how to be a justice from the moment they sit down behind the bench. Roberts already knows how the court works; he's argued a bazillion cases before them, and won most of them.

I think Clarence Thomas would have been a fine Chief Justice too, and suspect that the prospect of three confirmation battles might have led to him being passed over when he otherwise would have been considered.

Tlaloc said...

"But Scalia would be a terrible Chief Justice, and I doubt he's very interested in the job anyway. He relishes his role as a bomb-thrower and writer of biting criticisms of his court colleagues."

Too bad having to be more of a team player might help him be a better judge.




"I think Clarence Thomas would have been a fine Chief Justice too,"

Thomas has at least been on the bench a while but he was massively underqualified to be nominated in the first place which is hard for me to get past.

Hunter Baker said...

Just to add a little legal background, it is not a new thing to name a new justice as the Chief. Not new at all. The most famous example is Earl Warren.

Tlaloc said...

I understand that it's not a new thing but the central flaw of conservativism (in the original sense of the term) has always been that not everything old is good.

James Elliott said...

I'd do backflips if McConnell were nominated to replace O'Connor. He's the very best kind of conservative a liberal like myself could hope for: intelligent, reasonable, and a clear thinker.

Hunter Baker said...

This is one place JFE and I agree. McConnell is the strongest mind, in my view, of the bunch acceptable to the right. I've read his stuff and have quoted him in my scholarly work. He's great.

James Elliott said...

"I understand that it's not a new thing but the central flaw of conservativism (in the original sense of the term) has always been that not everything old is good."

To paraphrase Hoffer, conservatives as we recognize them today are, in fact, quite radical.