A Liberal's Supreme Court Scenario

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Adam's Apple, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple

    Adam's Apple Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2004
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    Supreme Court Scenario Scares Democrats, Liberals
    By Ken Bode, The Indianapolis Star
    July 15, 2005

    In somewhat unprintable phrasing, Richard Nixon once said that if a president is not irritating his base, he is not accomplishing all that he might.

    As he prepares to send up a name to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, President Bush is hearing daily from the core of his base, the Christian right. The Supreme Court, they say correctly, will be an enduring legacy of his presidency. Their legal watchwords are strict construction and original intent. Translated into more meaningful parlance, that means a nominee who is demonstrably correct on abortion, stem cells, affirmative action, religious issues and same-sex marriage.

    If the common assumption is correct -- that Justice William Rehnquist will not remain on the court much longer -- Bush will have two appointments, with the possibility to stretch it to three. This is how it could happen.

    First, the president irritates the base and pleases Karl Rove by using the O'Connor vacancy to nominate Alberto Gonzales, the first Hispanic.

    Gonzales has the credentials: Texas Supreme Court justice, counsel to Bush as governor then later as president, confirmed by the Senate as attorney general. He fills the bill for those urging the president to look for diversity of background, not just nominate from the federal bench. The political calculus of a Gonzales nomination is that a high-profile appointment like this could help anchor the loyalty of the large, free-floating bloc of Hispanic voters. This matters to those in the GOP whose futures involve winning elections, not just pulpit politics.

    Gonzales, however, is the nominee the Christian right fears most. His credentials are suspect on both abortion and affirmative action and conservative leaders have responded quickly and critically to the possibility he might be chosen. Invoking the prior choices of Reagan and Bush Sr., appointees who have proved to be insufficiently orthodox, they insist, "Gonzales is Spanish for Kennedy (or Souter)".

    Bush bluntly advised Gonzales' opponents to stifle that criticism. And some conservative leaders who voiced opposition to his nomination were quietly invited to visit with the attorney general. The implicit message: Maybe we're not so far apart after all.

    President Bush knows and trusts Alberto Gonzales. He also knows Gonzales would be confirmed; minority leader Harry Reid has admitted as much, and this is an important consideration for the first nominee. Conservatives might not like Gonzales, but they would not torpedo his selection.

    With Gonzales safely in place, Justice Rehnquist could retire. This second selection is where the president begins to pay off his base.


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