Saturday, October 23, 2004

Don't believe the Supreme Court Hype

After reading the latest article which talks about the likilihood of Bush or Kerry appointing 1-3 justices to the court, I felt the need to set the record straight: unless someone dies, these 9 aren't going anywhere.

While the court is conservative-leaning, and the Senate and White House are controlled by Conservatives, the Senate is just too close to push through another Scalia or Thomas. Even if the Senate isn't tied or Democratic next January, the GOP is not going to have 60 votes for any of George W. Bush's likely nominees. NARAL and other liberal groups will hold democrats feet to the fire over these nominees and whomever it is will likely be filibustered or blocked or denied a quorum to move for a vote. The head of the judiciary committee if the GOP wins is not conservative Orin Hatch (my home state senator), but PA's own moderate GOPer Arlen Specter, who despite Atrios' hopes, isn't going to lose this year. Even if Kerry wins, it will be so tough for him to get anyone but Arlen himself though (not a bad idea actually- gives Dems another seat, Rendell gets to appoint his potential rival Bob Casey, and Arlen will be about the same as O'Connell).

More fundamentally, we have to remember the internal dynamics of being a Supreme Court Justice. The more liberal appointees aren't going to retire while the white house is in republican hands and not when their successor might be more moderate if Kerry wins. For the conservative appointees, they don't want a moderate replacing them either. And for the moderate appointees like Kennedy and O'Connell, they are so powerful right now they would be dumb to leave.

In my mind, the next justice to leave is going to be either Rehnquist or Stevens. But both are waiting for a safe political climate for their successor to be ideologically similar to them, which in this current state of near Senate parity and high partisanship, is unlikely to happen. Both men seem to be in good shape medically for their age, so I doubt Kerry or Bush will have to deal with this issue. Maybe a President Edwards or Hillary Clinton (aka 2012)will have to deal with this issue, but in all probability, there will be no retirements or deaths (unless their is an accident or sudden change in health) in the next 4 years.

So if you care about reproductive rights and are getting scary letters from NARAL or people for the american way, give them money if you feel like it, but don't worry about abortion being overturned by the Supreme Court for at least 4 years.

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