May 23, 2007

Judicial Nominations and 2008

At SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein says that “it is not too early to start the hyperbole on the importance of the election for the future of the Court and, as a consequence, the future of American law.”

But is it really hyperbole? Of the nine current justices, five were born during the FDR administration and one, John Paul Stevens, was born the same year Warren Harding was elected president (1920). Though Goldstein discounts them, there are constant rumors that Ginsburg and Scalia are looking to retire sometime in the near future. Furthermore, as even Goldstein admits, it is generally accepted that Souter has never become enamored with the Supreme Court or with Washington , D.C.

Overall, this is an evenly split court with four activists on one side, four originalists/textualists on the other side and one swinging justice in the middle. Even one addition or subtraction on either side of the court could make all the difference in the world.

***

In Iowa, a key primary state, judicial nominations ranks high on the list of issues considered “extremely important” by Republicans, according to a Des Moines Register poll. Iowa Republicans feel judicial nominations are as important, if not more important, than hot-button issues like stem cell research, global warming, renewable energy, the economy and taxes. Only national security concerns such as terrorism are ranked as extremely important by significantly more Iowa Republicans.

What is crucial for every voter to understand is that the federal courts, and hence judicial nominations, have an effect on all of the issues listed in the poll. Therefore, if you think that terrorism or abortion or global competitiveness are “extremely important” issues, what kind of men and women a presidential candidate would put on the federal bench should also be “extremely important” to you.

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Speaking of which, here is a video from Senator McCain’s campaign website on the judges issue (HT: ConfirmThem). To those of you out there who support one of the other guys: Don’t worry! We’ll have stuff from your favorite candidate as well as the campaign continues. We aren’t going to play favorites here at CFJ.

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