SCOTUS Watch: Democrats prepare to (continue to) politicize the judiciary

Posted by: ST on April 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Via The Politico

Democrats hope to turn the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings into a referendum of sorts on controversial recent decisions by the Roberts court — portraying the conservative majority as a judicial Goliath trampling the rights of average Americans. 

As President Barack Obama mulls possible replacements for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, the administration and congressional aides are gravitating toward a strategy that goes beyond the goals of a run-of-the-mill confirmation fight – to define a corporations-vs.-the-common-man battle between Democrats and the high court.  

In addition to building a defensive perimeter around Obama’s pick — whoever that may be — Democrats will use the hearings to attack what they view as a dangerous strain of conservative judicial activism espoused by Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

“I don’t think people are going to tell the nominee, ‘It is terrible what the Roberts court has done — what are you going to do to reverse it?’” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), laying out the argument to POLITICO on Monday. 

“But I think what people are going to do is say, ‘Do you share our concern about the fact that the court always seems to side with the big corporate interests against the average American?’” he added. “I think there’s going to be more of the public realizing they really do have a stake in who’s on the Supreme Court.” 

Obama himself laid the groundwork for the strategy during the State of the Union speech in February, when he stunned Roberts and Alito by sharply criticizing their 5-to-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which loosened McCain-Feingold restrictions on corporate contributions to campaigns. 

“The justice [Obama] appoints will be a pivotal voice on this court on issues like, for example, the one we just saw, Citizens United, where the court ruled that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals and they basically sanctioned a corporate takeover of our elections,” said Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Monday

“Massive new spending by corporations — these kinds of decisions affect people’s lives. And the justice he appoints will be there for a generation,” added Axelrod. 

Still, administration officials suggested Obama won’t seek to balance the court by tapping a controversial liberal. 

Those of you who really believe that raise your hands.

I didn’t think so.

The Hill reports that the GOP is sounding off the alarm bells, warning Democrats not to make the confirmation hearings a litmus test on Citizens United:

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor Tuesday to warn Obama that if he uses the campaign-finance ruling as a litmus test in selecting a nominee for the high court, he would face serious Republican opposition. The tough words followed reports that Obama could be searching for a candidate willing to work to overturn the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds on individual campaigns.

“You don’t go on to the bench [saying], ‘I’m always going to be against the big guy,’ ” Kyl said, referring to Chief Justice John Roberts. Kyl did not mention the word “filibuster” directly but made the comments in the context of when a filibuster would be justified.

The White House and Roberts tangled earlier this year after Obama criticized the court’s Citizens United ruling during his State of the Union address. Roberts called Obama’s comments “very troubling”; White House spokesman Robert Gibbs fired back that the only troubling thing was the ruling, which he said would lift the floodgates on corporate spending on behalf of candidates in elections.

In a speech delivered on the Senate floor on Monday about filling the Supreme Court vacancy, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) also highlighted the Citizens United case. He specifically mentioned the case as an example of conservatives’ dishonesty when criticizing judicial activism.

“Let’s be candid about the Supreme Court being an ideological battleground today,” Specter said. “That happens to be a fact. When some decry judicial activism, what could be more judicial activism than reversing the 100-year precedent that corporations may not engage in political advertising, as the Supreme Court did in Citizens United?”

Amazing, isn’t it? These hypocrites are actually complaining about alleged “judicial activism” coming from certain (chiefly “conservative”) Justices, while at the same time arguing in favor of …  SCOTUS  judicial activism with respect to the Citizens United case.

You really can’t make this up.

Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot and just imagine for a few seconds just how the left, and their accomplices in the MSM, would be treating GOPers – and Bush – had been so blatantly obvious in their intent on judicial activism as Democrats are today over the issue of a replacement for Justice Stevens.  Never mind how the MSM did very little in the way of taking President Obama to task over his juvenile, unprecendented slap at a  (literally) sitting SCOTUS during this year’s SOTU, instead choosing to “debate” as to whether or not Justice Alito’s reaction to it was “appropriate” …

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7 Responses to “SCOTUS Watch: Democrats prepare to (continue to) politicize the judiciary”

Comments

  1. Anthony says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Arlen way off base with the “100-year old precedent” line? That was an anti-free speech talking point after the ruling, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that was not true.

  2. MarkJ says:

    The tough words followed reports that Obama could be searching for a candidate willing to work to overturn the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds on individual campaigns.

    Remember this is all coming from a guy whose campaign, from all appearances, deliberately turned off all of its campaign donation credit card checking software. Remember?

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/162403

  3. chris bowes says:

    Hey ST! Will you be at any tea parties this tax day?

  4. Old Goat says:

    Its just the way it is when you have a narcissist in the WH.

  5. Paul says:

    Truth be told both sides have used these tactics. Whatever happened to simply choosing a qualified candidate ? That’s another story.

  6. Anthony says:

    Paul, I’m struggling to recall when the Republican politicized a Democratic SCOTUS nominee to anywhere near the level experienced by Bork, Thomas, Roberts, or Alito. (Not to mention Estrada and Rogers-Brown to the Court of Appeal.) Both Ginsburg and Breyer sailed through (96-3 and 87-9, respectively). Who would you hold up as an example of Republican politicization of a SCOTUS appointment?

  7. Carlos says:

    Seems to me that the jackasses are right. There should be honor and decorum in the proceedings of the nomination, questioning and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice.

    And I believe the Republicans should show just as much as the jackasses did with Republican nominees, especially Bork and Thomas. Since he’s dead, it would be the sincerest form of flattery for the Republicans to imitate “The Swimmer” in this instance.