Category Archives: Supreme Court

Cameras in the courtroom?

Not a good idea, says Chris Berger of Overland Park, Kansas. He notes that issue has increasingly arisen in recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Installing cameras would politicize the court and threaten its independence, writes Berger. I generally agree with that assessment, and I oppose using cameras to broadcast Supreme Court proceedings.

There have been some efforts to tape and broadcast committee hearings in the Missouri General Assembly. I don’t know if those efforts ever gained traction, but I would be similarly disinclined to support such a move. Not that committee hearings could never be recorded by video, but that it is unnecessary and inadvisable to videotape every meeting of every committee to produce for open consumption. Even if it was cheap and easy to do – which it probably wouldn’t be – that would not alter more principal considerations.

Our national and state governments are designed according to republican principles, and are stabilized by a system of checks and balances. Whether it’s bringing cameras into the Court Chamber of the Supreme Court – or Hearing Room 6 in the basement of the Missouri State Capitol – let’s not tamper with republicanism and checks and balances in an ill-fated grasp at “transparency.”


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Filed under Missouri Politics, Supreme Court

Sotomayor supporters target discrimination victim

I was waiting for this to happen. McClatchy is reporting that supporters of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are targeting the firefighter she ruled against in a now infamous discrimination case. Frank Ricci is a decorated, seventeen year firefighter from New Haven, Connecticut, and lead efforts to sue after the city threw out the results of a promotion test because those who scored well were white.

This is reminescent of the Joe the Plumber case, when Barack Obama supporters in Ohio illegally investigated a private citizen for daring to question the Democratic presidential candidate. It’s is part of a highly disturbing trend that will only sharpen as government increases in size and scope, and the fights to control it become ever more consequential and contentious.

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Filed under Race, Supreme Court

Left engages pre-emption strategy on Sotomayor

The Left is continuing the drum beat against conservatives and Republicans on the Sotomayor nomination. Democrats, liberal activists and some of their friends in the media are going on offense pre-emptively as a means of mounting a defense.

The message is totally focused on the Republican response, and not on Sotomayor herself. Nearly every personality appearing on MSNBC for the last 48 hours, it seems, is saying the exact same thing: That Republicans are attacking Sotomayor, and that they are politically foolish to do so.The party line has been established.

Within this message, there is a second point being made: the Left is taking examples of conservative voices (like Rush Limbaugh) calling Sotomayor a racist, and mistranslating that into an attack on her race and gender. It’s a dishonest, misleading and not even an incredibly sophisticated tactic, but as the old line goes, if you repeat something loudly and often enough people start believing it.

Much more on this later. Principally Political will follow this nomination debate closely, with no holds barred commentary, so come back often. I expect Sotomayor to make it to the Supreme Court, but a deliberate examination of her record and qualifications is needed, and a thorough, honest and open debate should be had.

Post Script: The race-baiting needs to stop right now. I have less and less tolerance for the use of the race card as a means of shutting down debate at every level of public discourse in this country. I have begun to call people out on this publicly, and will continue to do so as assertively and as articulately as I am able.

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Krauthammer, Will on Sotomayor

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer weighs in on President Barack Obama‘s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

George Will notes of Sotomayor, that “like conventional liberals, she embraces identity politics, including the idea of categorical representation.”

Unsurprisingly, the more I learn of this nominee – and it’s really, really early – the more I dislike the idea of her as a member of the high court.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous, Supreme Court

Quick take on Supreme Court nomination

Most of the discussion moving forward will center around appointment confirmation politics, but let’s take a quick look back at the nomination politics. A number of other names were floated, but in the end, Sonya Sotomayor proved irresistible to President Barack Obama because:

1. She’s Hispanic. *

2. She’s a woman.

3. She’s young.

4. She’s decidedly liberal.

Other reasons include:

5. Her experience. *

6. Her “compelling life story.”*

Some are saying she’ll be the first Hispanic to serve on the high court if confirmed. In fact, that may be in dispute (I believe it was Benjamin Cardoza who some say was the first Hispanic to serve on SCOTUS). She’s the third woman, so there’s no “trailblazing” being done here, although feminists in the Democrat base will certainly be thrilled.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was on MSNBC this morning and made clear that this process should be a methodical one. He also expressed concern about her jurisprudence and philosophy of law.

I’m glad to see Hatch out early on this. I wouldn’t expect him to be opposed right away – that wouldn’t be prudent, from either a substantive or political basis, in his position. But hopefully his comments are a reflection of a willingness to go to the mat on the part of the Senate GOP, if that proves necessary.

* Not that any of these factors mattered to Democrats who blocked the promotion of Judge Miguel Estrada during the Bush years. Just remember that the next time a left wing activist groups insinuates racism during this nomination process.

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Will Obama resist impulses on SCOTUS pick?

Is President Barack Obama willing and able to resist his own impulses when it comes to picking a Supreme Court nominee?

I’ve been reading the first wave of articles published since news of Justice David Souter‘s retirement broke Friday. Conventional wisdom has already been established, it seems, as far as the short list.

The usual analysis is being offered on the politics of it all: he’ll want to pick a woman and preferably a minority; those in consideration are generally viewed as liberal, but he’ll want to be careful not to give Senate Republicans red meat to sink their teeth into; he should nominate someone with serious intellectual ability but also personal political skills and dynamism sufficient to seriously shape the direction of the court, etc.

Apply whatever label you may, but Obama is a thoroughly ideological, intensely committed, doctrinaire liberal. Add to this that his background is in the law. So he is a liberal who understands the power of the law and those who wield the powers of its interpretation, and thus there must be a tremendous personal impulse for him to nominate someone who can be counted on to move the court – the country – to the left. (Souter was on the left, so it wouldn’t be an immediate shift, but it would be a new, younger, liberal member).

So, the question is, will Obama, out of perceived political necessity (more on that later), resist his own impulse to nominate a strongly ideological liberal?

There is certainly much analysis that could be done here, but perhaps only time will tell.


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Ginsberg diagnosis limits Obama’s ability to reshape court

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the court announced in a statement. A small tumor was detected early and removed in a surgery today. Even so, the survival rate is poor – around 20% for patients in whom the tumor is detected early and completely restricted to the pancreas.

While we wish Ginsberg well in her battle for recovery, the implications for the court and the nation’s future can not be avoided. Former chief counsel for the ACLU, Ginsberg is widely regarded as the court’s most liberal voice. At 75, she is also one of the court’s older members. There now seems little doubt that her seat will be President Barack Obama‘s first to fill on the Supreme Court.

While Obama will certainly name another liberal justice, he would be hard-pressed to find any more so than Ginsberg. In this sense, this appointment limits his ability to ideologically shape the court to his image. The only change will be that the new justice will be younger, and presumably serve on the court for years to come.

While the nation should wish Ginsberg and her family well at the time of this tragedy, the fact that it is her – as opposed to any of her colleagues – is a noteworthy check on Obama’s ability to reshape the nation’s highest judicial body.

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