President Barack Obama will very likely get a chance to name some Supreme Court Justices, perhaps as many as two in his current term in office. If Ken Starr, former Independent Counsel, is correct, Barack Obama is in for some trouble.
The difficulties Barack Obama will face naming one or two Supreme Court Justices stems from his approach to Supreme Court nominees during his brief time as a United States Senator. Then Senator Obama not only opposed but filibustered against the two President George W. Bush picks, John Roberts and Sam Alito. Both Roberts and Alito were confirmed, but as Ken Starr suggests, Elephants do not forget.
Barack Obama has two possibilities for his own Supreme Court Justice. Justice John Paul Stevens is 88 and will turn 89 in April, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While her medical prognosis is hopeful and as human beings one must wish Justice Ginsberg a long life and career, pancreatic cancer is one of the nastier forms of cancer and one should approach the situation with realism.
Besides Justice Ginsberg, Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Breyer are in their seventies.
How much trouble President Barack Obama will face will depend on the behavior of the Senate RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), Snowe, Collins, and Specter. Senate Republicans will need two of the RINOs to sustain a veto. Another factor will be who President Obama chooses to pick. If the Supreme Court nominee has a too obviously liberal record, the nomination will be much easier to oppose. Then again, President Obama could choose either a centrist, like Kennedy or retired Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, or someone with no record to speak of, like a David Souter.
Another possibility arises because of recent events. The Obama vetting operation has proven to be so dysfunctional that it is entirely possible that an Obama Supreme Court nominee will be found to have some disqualification, such as a tax problem.
Barack Obama’s potential problem will be mitigated by the fact that he will likely be replacing a liberal for a liberal, since Justices Stevens and Ginsberg are members of the liberal bloc of the Supreme Court. If Obama were-say-picking someone to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, expect Armageddon in the Senate.
If Barack Obama has a nasty fight for a Supreme Court nominee, he will only be following a tradition started by Democrats during the Robert Bork nomination fight in the 1980s. President Reagan nominated Robert Bork, then a respected Appellate Court Judge, with decidedly conservative leanings. Up until that point, Supreme Court nominees were generally opposed for incompetence or some other disqualification, even if the real reason is ideology. Robert Bork was opposed by Senate Democrats solely on ideological grounds. No one could say with a straight face that Bork was unqualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. The Robert Bork fight even contributed a verb to the political lexicon, “to bork” or to destroy a Presidential nominee for political reasons. Besides Roberts and Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas faced a particularly nasty nomination fight that featured spurious accusations of sexual harassment.
Will Barack Obama’s future Supreme Court nominees get “borked?” If so, then Obama and the Democrats will have only themselves to blame. They, after all, started it.
Source: Ken Starr: Obama’s Supreme Court picks will face trouble, Carrie Sheffield, Washington Times, February 14th, 2009