Article for Sunday; Opinion on the Supreme Court

Neither a Souter nor a Specter be   William Kristol of the Weekly Standard writes about the rather dismal week the Republican Party just went through. The defection of senator Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party was bad enough, but then liberal Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced he will be stepping down soon. It would be easy for Republicans to be worried or upset about the departures,especially that of Specter, but Kristol argues that this gives Republicans many opportunities to counter and rebuild. It is undoubtedly Obama’s Congress now and what he says will go. This means the GOP will have ample opportunity to provide alternatives. There will be no excuses if Obama’s plans do not work out because it is all on the Democrats now. Kristol concludes that in the end, neither Specter nor Souter were going to help the conservative movement. There is much work to be done, but conservatives now have a better chance to present a reasonable, unified alternative.

That leads to what my opinion is of what will happen in the new search for a Supreme Court Justice. The chance of nominating a justice is a fabulous opportunity for Democrats. This gives Barack Obama the ability to nominate a younger liberal judge that would establish the presence of a long term liberal Justice. The average age of the three remaining “liberal” judges is 78 years old, while the four judges that are thought of as conservative only average out to be 61 years old. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is thought to be the swing vote of the Justices, is 72 years old. With this info, it is reasonable to assume that Obama will be able to nominate more than one justice during his term.

The process of naming a new Supreme Court Justice is a interesting one. After Obama makes a nominee, they have to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a 19 member committee. Of course, Arlen Specter was the ranking Republican on this committee, so it only makes sense that he will have an impact on who the new Justice is. If the SJC approves the nominee, the entire Senate votes on approval of the nominee. All that is needed is a majority vote to approve the nominee. While there is no doubt that will happen in the Senate with plenty of Democrats willing to carry out Obama’s agenda, there seems to be a bit of an issue about the SJC which was brought up Rush Limbaugh on Friday.

Because Arlen Specter has now switched to the Democratic Party, he is no longer part of the minority party, the GOP. For a Supreme Court Justice nominee to be approved by the SJC, he or she needs ten votes of approval from members of the SJC. The catch, however, is that one of those votes must be from the minority party. Had Specter remained a Republican, he would have been the easy vote for Democrats to get from the minority. Specter, however, switched parties so if the remaining Republicans wanted to, they could band together to prevent the approval of a liberal Supreme Court Justice. This all of a sudden doesn’t look like such an easy path for Democrats to get what they want.

Now, on the topic of an actual nominee for the Supreme Court. Many sources seem to indicate that the early betting money is on Judge Sonia Sotomayor, currently a federal appeals court judge on the 2nd circuit. Sotomayor is getting early attention not because she is qualified or because she has been highly regarded as a fair judge, but because she is of Latin descent and a female. Hispanics are begging the first African-American president to name the first Hispanic to be a Supreme Court Justice. Obama has long campaigned when talking about the Supreme Court that a new justice should have “empathy” and have real-life experiences. Hispanics believe that Sotomayor brings these qualities to the table and they also believe that they are owed a favor for their historic turn out in the 2008 election in support of President Obama.

Call me crazy, but shouldn’t a potential Supreme Court Justice be nominated on a basis of accomplishments and qualifications, instead of her heritage? It seems a little dangerous and irresponsible to be using the Supreme Court, the highest court in our nation, as a platform to give political paybacks for certain groups of people. We shouldn’t be looking at this as an opportunity to name the “first this” or the “first that”. Instead, the nominee should be the person who has been most reasonable as a judge and has the most qualifications to become a Supreme Court Justice. It shouldn’t matter what the person looks like or where the person’s parents come from. What if there was a male, white, Christian liberal judge who has all the qualifications and experience needed to be a Supreme Court Justice, more so than any other nominee? Will Obama pass over that person because he is a white male and we already have those? Doesn’t that sound like racism? So does picking a judge just because of how she looks.

If Sotomayor has more experience and qualifications to be a judge than anyone else Barack Obama can find, then she should be the nominee. Just because she is a female of Latin heritage, however, doesn’t mean she is a good nominee and people that say she should be because of her gender and heritage border on promoting racism. The political correctness that has run amok in this country will prevent anyone from truly calling out this disturbing trend of racism. Let’s hope that President Obama refuses to cave in to doing political favors for minority groups and instead picks the person who has earned the nomination.

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