Monday, April 12, 2010

The Supreme Court

The New York Times puts the following Orrin Hatch quote about the upcoming Supreme Court nomination in large, bold type in its Week in Review section on Sunday, referring to it as one of the quotes of the week: "There's going to be a whale of a fight if he appoints an activist to the court. That's not good for him, it's not good for the Senate, it's not good for the country." Why is that the quote of the week? And how is it that this upcoming nomination has been reframed, so that only a moderate or a conservative is somehow generally acceptable? Finally, and most shamefully, why has the NY Times coverage been simplified to such an extent that we are reduced to only three possible nominees who are pretty much caricatured as Garland: Moderate and Acceptable (especially to Orrin Hatch); Kagan: Friendly to conservatives, Former Dean of Harvard Law, Opinions unknown; Wood: Dangerous liberal who actually supports abortion rights. What especially appalls me is the Times' failure, at least so far, to tell us anything about their effectiveness as lawyers and jurists. Or has that stopped mattering as criteria for these appointments? How good are Garland and Wood as judges? Is anybody willing to say? Does Kagan have any kind of track record in, say, scholarly articles with respect to her judicial opinions? Most important of all, are these three really the only qualified nominees? You can't tell me there aren't a number of folks out there, perhaps even people of color, who aren't as qualified. Why aren't we hearing about these others? In the end, I guess, I'm just very disappointed in the way this whole story is being reported. I look forward to this changing very soon.


  1. I've enjoyed reading about John Paul Stevens over the last few days. Remarkable that his confirmation was completed in less than a month with unanimous support in the Senate.
    Brings home the terrible deterioration of advise and consent....

  2. Yes, and we've all been shaped by this great move rightward. We think of Stevens now as the great liberal on the court, but, of course, he was appointed by Ford and does not regard himself as a liberal at all. Yet, in the case of this upcoming appointment, we almost certainly will have to settle for a moderate in the ideological climate we now find ourselves in.