The Supreme Court and the 2012 Election

Writing at The Wall Street Journal, the Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick crunches the numbers and explains why the outcome of the 2012 presidential election is likely to have a major impact on the future of the Supreme Court:

The court's conservative majority so far has endured for 21 years, since Justice Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall. Since then, there have been six appointments to the court. None, however, has affected the court's balance, with two conservatives replacing conservatives and four liberals replacing liberals.

That may be about to change. Three justices—liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg and conservatives Antonin Scalia and Justice Kennedy—will reach their 80s during the next presidential administration. So whoever wins in November likely will have the chance either to reinforce the conservative majority, or to alter the court's balance for the first time in nearly a generation.....

A Republican president may spend like a drunken sailor or destroy capitalism in order to save it, and a Democrat may bail out Wall Street and fail to bring the troops home. But they will never disappoint their respective bases on Supreme Court nominations.

All of this underscores that in terms of lasting importance, the power to control Supreme Court nominations is the grand prize in the coming presidential election. Long after Barack Obama and Mitt Romney fade in our memories, the Supreme Court justices one of them appoints will still be rendering the rulings that determine the future course of our nation.

Read the whole story here.

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  • mr simple||

    Why can't we get independent justices who just follow the constitution, rather than those who politicize everything and rely on public opinion, foreign law, or their own feelings? It's ridiculous we can even discuss conservative vs. liberal(progressive) justices.

  • Alex||

  • Beowulf||

    Interesting that Warren, Stevens and Souter were appointed by republican presidents and byron white was appointed by a democrat...rather significant exceptions to the "rule"

  • fish||

    Yeah well fuck it!

    Fat lot of good Rubber Stamp Roberts did as a conservative jurist! Make em all liberal Obama fellating douchebags (see Tony you may have a career after teaching) and let the citizenry eat another 30 year turd sandwich!

  • A Serious Man||

    I'm pretty sure Scalia will die before he lets a Democrat replace him, not that he's in bad shape anyway. I remember one time I took a law class taught by a professor who herself had attended a seminar taught by Scalia a few years ago in some resort town in Colorado.

    According to her most of the class had to take pills for altitude sickness, but everday Scalia would given them a three hour break so he could play tennis with some of his buddies in that high altitude and despite his age.

    Ginsburg has had bouts with cancer so I doubt she'll wait around much longer if Obama gets re-elected and I'm not sure about Kennedy. I think he's so pissed at the Obamacare ruling that he'll wait as long as possible for a chance to write the opinion in the majority for a big case.

  • o3||

    after scalia chokes on brocolli, obama can replace his corspe too

  • robc||

    Johnson could put 3 libertarians on the court!!!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Janice Brown, Kosinski, and... is there another libertarian judge in the country?

  • Joe R.||

    It doesn't have to be a judge. He could nominate Walter Williams.

  • The Hammer||

    Napolitano?

  • SIV||

    You ever notice how the most "hard right" of conservatives always short list Janice Rogers Brown as their preferred choice too?

  • ||

    Is she?

    Or is it just what the left says she is?

  • Tulpa the White||

    JRB has a hard-on for executive warmaking/detention power, actually. Somewhat like Thomas.

  • R C Dean||

    Here's my prediction on SCOTUS replacements by the two major party candidates:

    Obama: Horribly, hideously, mind-shatteringly bad.

    Romney: Bad.

    Cue accusations of HitnRunpublican partisanship.

  • T o n y||

    I don't think anybody questions your partisanship.

  • ||

    Tony's stage of political thought is pretty straight forward...From his perspective anyone who disagrees with him is a nut job right winger even when they are to the left of him.

  • ||

    But see, we're only to the left of him on social issues. We're to the right of him on economic issues, hence why we're all nut job right wingers.

  • ||

    No you are confused.

    Tony's political thought is unipolar. Anything radiating out, regardless of direction, from his warm chewy center is right wing.

    I can think of a number of economic issues I am to left of him on.

    TARP and Obamacare to name a few. In some ways I am to the left of him on how stimulus has been implemented.

  • ||

    Ahh, I stand corrected.

  • T o n y||

    I don't support either of those programs as ideals. But I don't see them as evil bogeymonsters either (well except maybe for TARP--it could and should have been done with a lot more strings attached). Even though TARP was under Bush, I sense you are implying that I support whatever Obama does as a paragon of public policy. If so, you're mistaken. If I felt I had the luxury libertarians do of daydreaming about utopia, then I'd be quite a bit more radical in by policy preferences. But I feel it necessary to include political reality in any reality-based discussion of these things.

  • ||

    daydreaming about utopia

    What like gay marriage, legalizing pot, ending wars and shrinking our military?

    UTOPIA IS SO FAR AWAY!!!!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Shorter Tony:

    MY partisanship is and should be law. All other forms are racist.

  • ||

    That's fucking rich coming from you Tony.

  • T o n y||

    I don't deny my partisanship. I think after rigorous and careful thought, one comes to a place of partisanship, with squishy "I'm above partisan politics" so-called independent-mindedness the adolescent step after "I'm whatever party my parents are."

    What's annoying is people denying they are partisan when the only thoughts that seem to fill their head come from Republican party propaganda outfits.

  • ||

    So not picking a party to fuck you in the ass makes you an adolescent? This explains so much of your thinking.

  • T o n y||

    I think in this specific country, to the extent that it's possible for one person to effect political change, the best practical option is to pick one of the two dominant parties and influence from within. All being an independent gets you is the inability to vote in many primaries. And as I see it part of growing up is learning that feeling good and pure about one's politics is totally irrelevant to anything but one's own ego.

  • ||

    So you're saying that being a grown-up is all about compromising your principles and lacking integrity for political expediency? How wonderfully utilitarian of you.

  • ||

    to the extent that it's possible for one person to effect political change, the best practical option is to pick one of the two dominant parties and influence from within.

    Name one instance that has ever been effective?

    I can name several instances where my "adolescent" strategy has worked.

    Ending the draft
    Ending Jim Crown
    Gay rights
    legalizing medical marijuana and soon legalizing it entirely.

    Similarly your practical parties created

    Jim crow
    the draft
    laws that prohibit gay rights
    Pot prohibition

    You are so fucked and don't even know it.

  • ||

    Cue accusations of HitnRunpublican partisanship.

    In all fairness you are to the right of Epi.

    Of course when you get to the Epi stage of political thought the laws of the universe tend to break down.

    Left or right tend to lose thier meaning.

  • T o n y||

    "But they will never disappoint their respective bases on Supreme Court nominations."

    As the Tea Party awaits John Roberts's return with pitchforks in hand.

  • ||

    Whoever wins, we all lose (excepting robc's absurd possibility).

  • Mo' $parky||

    "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"

  • sloopyinca||

    Ooh, I want to be the guy that hugs Ally Sheedy.

  • ||

    None, however, has affected the court's balance

    This is bullshit.

    Kagan and Sotomayor are not as severely left wing as those they replaced.

    O'Connor was more left leaning then Alito.

    Roberts is more centrist and deferential to Government power then Rehnquist.

    This whole premise seems to be about the Bush vs Gore Florida ballot decision and has nothing to do with the other 99% of what the supreme court actually does.

    What are the conservatives afraid a new court will over turn the 2000 election? is the left hoping to have it over turned?

    This is all bullshit.

  • Mike M.||

    "Conservative majority", that's a good one. It sounds to me like the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick isn't living on planet reality. Fuck the Scrotus right in the ass.

  • ||

    None, however, has affected the court's balance

    This is bullshit.

    Kagan and Sotomayor are not as severely left wing as those they replaced.

    O'Connor was more left leaning then Alito.

    Roberts is more centrist and deferential to Government power then Rehnquist.

    This whole premise seems to be about the Bush vs Gore Florida ballot decision and has nothing to do with the other 99% of what the supreme court actually does.

    What are the conservatives afraid a new court will over turn the 2000 election? is the left hoping to have it over turned?

    This is all bullshit.

  • ||

    Whoever wins, we all lose (excepting robc's absurd possibility).

  • Mike M.||

    "Conservative majority", that's a good one. It sounds to me like the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick isn't living on planet reality. Fuck the Scrotus right in the ass.

  • A Serious Man||

    The squirrels power have expanded to double up not one, not two, but THREE different posts.

  • ||

    They must be on steroids. I suggest a congressional panel to investigate.

  • ||

    I even reloaded to make sure my first post was not up before i re-posted.

    Fucking squirrels have gone ninja.

  • ||

    I for one welcome our newly terrible squirrel overlords.

  • Loki||

    Not only that but they put them in a different order when they doubled them up. I think the squirrels picked the wrong week to stop sniffin' glue.

  • Registration At Last!||

    If second-order property-rights and federalism stuff is your primary concern (Kelo, ACA) then the GOP is your choice for SCOTUS appointments.

    If primary, life-and-death, blood and bone stuff like police brutality and wrongful convictions is your primary concern, then you want Earl-Warren-type liberals on the court.

    Easy choice as I see it.

  • cw||

    Simplistic analysis, per usual.

  • Registration At Last!||

    You can complicate it all you want -- 2nd Amendment, religion clauses, interstate commerce -- but the irreducible fact is that the GOP appointees are never going to put limits on prosecutorial excesses or police street violence.

  • ||

    Funny that the liberal ones haven't done a very good job of that either(at least out of the current batch we have).

  • Registration At Last!||

    No, and the conservatives haven't been very strong on economic freedoms, either. We are talking about cases at the far margins -- the worst excesses of the system. And there are always surprises, where a "liberal" or "conservative" judge switches from the expected outcome.

    But, if you think that a mother alone with her child in the car shouldn't be handcuffed and taken to jail for violation of a seatbelt law, then your choice is clear.

    If you are more obsessed with chasing the horizon for some SCOTUS-restored pre-Wickard federalist utopia, that's your choice.

  • ||

    That's why I'm "wasting" my vote and going with the person I think is best for the job, instead of the two empty suits that have been campaigning for it since 2008.

  • BarryD||

    Even if we were to get an Earl-Warren-type liberal on the court, what good would one justice really do, anyway?

  • Registration At Last!||

    Swing 5-4 cases, obviously.

  • BarryD||

    We don't have any such types on the Court right now, so what will there be, to swing?

    Raich was a Commerce Clause case. The few law enforcement/due process cases were not 5-4 as I recall, anyway.

    So, IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ACTUAL COURT, what would it accomplish?

  • Registration At Last!||

    Your "recall" is mistaken.

    Very much mistaken, indeed.

  • Registration At Last!||

    You need to rethink your assumptions.

  • Mike M.||

    California is one of the most liberal, democrat controlled states there is, and they have probably the most out-of-control, brutal police force and the biggest prison-industrial complex in the nation. Not quite sure how you manage to reconcile all that in your mind.

  • SugarFree||

    It's a very small mind, so things are quite cosy.

  • Registration At Last!||

    Not even close. Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi have it all over California. California's rate of incarceration is lower than that of Arizona or Nevada, and only incrementally higher than Oregon.

    And, besides, California has had mostly Republican governors of late. A

    And, anyway, we are talking about court appointees, here, not the political branches. It is in judicial appointments, not political policy, where the Democrats have advanced individual protections against the power of police and prosecutors.

  • ChrisO||

    So, property rights and federalism and commerce and all that grown-up stuff you apparently don't understand is "second order," huh?

    It's the overly intrusive regulation of that stuff that makes all that "primary" bad stuff happen in the first place. But that's probably over your head.

  • Registration At Last!||

    Sorry, I don't think a different outcome in Kelo would substantially reduce the incidence of "stop-resisting!" beat-downs.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Those beat-downs haven't been substantially reduced under Obama's watch, so I wouldn't go all hair-shirty just yet, RAL.

    If at all.

  • sloopyinca||

    Whoever is put on the court will be nothing more than a toady for the Legislative and Executive branches. It's how you get nominated and confirmed nowadays. You play politics to the party establishments and you get put on the court because you agree to do their bidding.

    Unless there's a Tom Clancy-esque attack at the SOTU which results in a libertarian somehow ending up in the WH, there is no turning back from the court deferring way too much power to the other two branches.

  • ||

    Eliminationist Rhetoric!!!11!!!!1!

  • JeremyR||

    4 liberals, 2 moderates that vote either way, and 3 conservatives is somehow a conservative majority?

    It should be a conservative majority, but Republican presidents have trouble nominating conservative judges.

  • Cell||

    "they will never disappoint their respective bases on Supreme Court nominations."

    I'm not sure that's true.

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