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Hang In There, Nino

The next two and probably four years are going to look a lot like the last two.  The Republicans will have a majority of the House.  The Democrats will have a majority but not a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  Having established the precedent during the Bush Administration that it is okay to filibuster a judicial nominee simply because you disagree with his philosophy, they will not have standing to complain when Republicans do the same. They will anyway.  President Obama will push the courts in the direction of leftist judicial activism, but his ability to do so will moderated somewhat by the filibuster.

It is likely that Justice Ginsburg will retire during the term.  The fact that Barack Obama and not Mitt Romney will be nominating her successor is a lost opportunity, but the replacement will likely not alter the overall balance on the Supreme Court.  If Obama were to name a successor to Justice Scalia, however, that would be a major (and, IMHO, catastrophic) change.  Let us hope Justice Scalia, and Justice Kennedy as well, stick it out for another four years.  The same is true for persons of sense on the lower federal courts.  Postpone retirement a few more years, folks.


Why do Republican Presidents appoint eclectics such as Douglas, Souter, O'Connor, Kennedy, &tc., &tc., ad nauseum, whereas Democrats unfailingly select solid liberals such as Brennan, Breyer, and Ginsburg, or do they not?


I don't think the contrast is quite that stark, considering the whole history. Douglas was appointed by FDR. Justice White, appointed by JFK, was strong on law enforcement issues, better than many of the justices appointed by Republicans. Reagan tried to appoint Robert Bork but was blocked. He did what he could with the Senate he had. Souter was indeed a screw-up.

Breyer and Ginsburg lean left but not nearly as far as Warren and Brennan (Ike's "biggest damn fool mistakes," according to Ike). Some lefties grouse about that. We do get their votes occasionally, even in divided opinions.

Even so, I think your point is valid overall. Republicans have not been as successful in shaping the Court as Democrats. Part of the problem is "drift." Harry Blackmun wrote a great dissent on capital punishment based on judicial restraint, and contrary to his personal view, when he was new on the Court. Late in his tenure, in the Callins case, he wrote a miserable opinion essentially repudiating what he had said before.

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