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dpworkin's avatar

Justice John Paul Stevens has announced that he will resign this Summer. What do you think this means for the Supreme Court and to the Nation?

Asked by dpworkin (27025points) April 9th, 2010

Can Obama get his first choice passed? Is Stevens really “replaceable” (considering his deep knowledge of the way the Court works, and his sensibility?) Will the Court take yet another rightward turn because of opposition to Obama’s appointees, and because the new replacement will not have Steven’s skills? Does it matter?

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52 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think there will be a rightward turn. I think Obama will be able to get his nominee through so long as they don’t discover malfeasance. Of course, Stevens’ knowledge will be lost.

It unfortunate that it isn’t a conservative jurist who is resigning. But perhaps Stevens was waiting for a more liberal president to resign. It’s amazing he’s still there—at around 90 years old. In any case, I think of this change as being like treading water. No movement to the left or the right. Mores’s the pity.

dpworkin's avatar

@wundayatta Even if Obama succeeds in getting a Liberal appointment through, (and that is doubtful, considering the obstructionist bent of the current Senate) the new appointee won’t have the experience or the gravitas that Stevens now has. That will strengthen the Right, in my opinion.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Probably no difference in court decisions. Stevens is center-left as his replacement is likely to be.

cockswain's avatar

I think it will be even messier than the Sotomayor confirmation, as the conservatives will make a big show about not having our freedoms further stripped away and libs “shoving things down our throats.” I think Republicans will try to block whatever nomination Obama presents. The whole thing will be pure politics. Not like it isn’t always. Can’t wait for Sarah Palin to weigh in with her intelligent analysis of the situation.

Sure it matters as to the political leanings of the nominee. The decision to allow corporations to freely funnel money into campaign ads wouldn’t have passed with a more left leaning court. Why do you think it would move more right when a left president chooses?

rahm_sahriv's avatar

We are probably screwed.

bob_'s avatar

It’s going to be the end of the Republic.

Okay, not really.

filmfann's avatar

Stevens is not center-left. He is far left. Whoever Obama replaces him with, he will not be as far to the left as Stevens. That would be a subtle move to the right, though it will not cause a change on most votes.
Stevens certainly has been a voice of the left for a long time, and he deserves to retire, but I will miss someone who will stand up to Scalia.
If anyone wants to know the value of Stevens, you should read the entire decision by the Supremes on the Gun Control law from last year. Scalia name calls, and belittles, while Stevens states law and precedent.

Cruiser's avatar

I agree with @cockswain as Obama surely will appoint a liberal crony he owes a favor to and the Republicans will take most likely “her” to the woodshed over every nit picky detail. Another Partisan brawl for sure.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Agree with @filmfann. Even Sotomayor was a subtle shift to the right. And I can’t stand Scalia’s questioning. He definitely does belittle and seems to be looking for a laugh.

dpworkin's avatar

@cockswain I thought I explained that above. Obama can’t get a real Left of Center Liberal through appointment, and anyone else he names will not be as powerful a counterweight as Stevens, which will, in effect, move the Court to the Right.

CaptainHarley's avatar

The Court will probably retain its Left/Right mix of Justices, thank God!

janbb's avatar

I think whomever he chooses – and it won’t be a far-Left liberal – there will be a bloodbath in the Senate and it will take a long time for them to be approved, if at all. The court will likely end up skewing rightward. Ginsberg will probably be the next to go.

cockswain's avatar

@dpworkin I see what you mean, in that any appointment won’t be as left as Stevens, thus shifting the court right to some degree. But how does this approval process work? What happens if Obama keeps suggesting liberals? Can the Repubs turn them all down indefinitely? I don’t know enough history on Supreme Court Justice nominations, nor how they can legitimately be denied. My understanding is generally it’s just a dog-and-pony show, and almost everyone nominated has been approved.

dpworkin's avatar

It used to be more collegial, but you saw what happened on health care reform. The Republicans are very disciplined, and can keep things in suspended animation indefinitely. They will, whether or not they agree with his choice, even though they screamed bloody murder when Democrats threatened to filibuster one of Bush’s nominations: do you remember all the talk of the “Nuclear Option”, and the “Gang of 14”?

AstroChuck's avatar

It means some younger blood who’s not a conservative. Works for me.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@dpworkin One almost wishes that the Repubs did go nuclear back then. Now they’d be forced to abide by their own rules.

davidbetterman's avatar

The Supremes will continue to whittle away at our Bill of Rights regardless of who gets appointed.

CaptainHarley's avatar

You know, I have never been able to understand why liberals will fight tooth and nail for certain civil rights, but not for all of them. I suppose they just like to pick and choose, since they know so much better than we how our lives should be run, and how our money should be spent. And the (<strong>&</strong>^&#%$ conservatives aren’t much better!

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley I think you know that old saying comparing politics to sausage….

thriftymaid's avatar

Probably nothing; I expect his replacement will be pretty much the same.

jerv's avatar

Was that supposed to be in boldface? I can’t figure out why, but It seems to be the whole thread now….

thriftymaid's avatar

@jerv I don’t even know how to make the text bold.

bob_'s avatar

Oh oh. You guys broke it.

jerv's avatar

I blame Captain Harley :D

@thriftymaid The instructions are right below the box you type your post in.

jerv's avatar

(Removed by someone who spoke prematurely)

dpworkin's avatar

I mentioned this strangeness to the powers that be.

jerv's avatar

I wonder if this would’ve happened if @CaptainHarley had just typed “fucking” instead of trying to be a gentleman about it….

janbb's avatar

There’s an article in the Times to day about his resignation and Obama’s opportunity to appoint another justice. One complicating factor it mentions is the effect the midterm elections will have on strengthening conservative opposition to any nominee. As I said above, I predict a bloodbath and a stalemate – if you can have both at once!

davidbetterman's avatar

Is it okay to say fucking?

jerv's avatar

@davidbetterman Around here, yes. So long as you are too insulting or overtly violent, you can say all sorts of shit on Fluther. People here (admins included) are less worried about the words than the context.

Ron_C's avatar

There is going to be a big fight with the same people that bought ultra-conservatives like Alieto and Roberts, and a loser like Thomas into the court. They are already saying that they will undermine any candidate on the short list. This is about ideology, not justice. Stevens brought an enlightened view point into a court shrouded in conservative darkness. His shoes would be hard to fill even without the anti-Obama neocon shouting match that is to come.

cockswain's avatar

Now that Kagan has been nominated, how do you feel about her?

janbb's avatar

@cockswain I was thinking of asking the collective about the same thing. I haven’t read a ton about her yet, but it seems like the Obama team is thinking she’ll be passable after scrutiny. She sounds like a moderate liberal which I assume means her stance on abortion rights is where I would want it, although I know she hasn’t left much of a position trail. (Maybe she was setting herself up for a Supreme Court nomination one day? : P) She certainly sounds like a competent person, I am hoping she is liberal enough for me, and conservative enough to get passed. Do you think SC judges need to have judicial experience? Apparently, many of the best in the past did not.

cockswain's avatar

Do you think SC judges need to have judicial experience? Apparently, many of the best in the past did not.

That’s interesting, I didn’t know that. I guess that indicates judicial experience need not be a prerequisite.

janbb's avatar

Yes, I saw an article somewhere the past few days listing several great ones that weren’t. It was probably in the NY Times.

dpworkin's avatar

She’ll be an adequate Justice. What we need is a Liberal Justice to counter the dangerous Conservative agenda that has been established since the Reagan presidency, but Obama is no Liberal, so we may be waiting many years.

cockswain's avatar

Obama is definitely liberal, but not as far left as many thought. Not left enough for some, definitely not right enough for many.

Why do you think he isn’t a liberal?

dpworkin's avatar

I used a dictionary, and he doesn’t fit the definition. What makes you think he is? Maybe his determination to defend the unitary executive? Is that a Liberal notion? How about his support of ungovernable foreign wars? Liberal trait? His refusal to champion a single payer health care system? Would a Liberal have taken that cowardly path?. Duck quacks, pal.

cockswain's avatar

How about his support of ungovernable foreign wars?

What good options are there? I’m not arguing it is liberal to support it, but seriously, what the hell are the good options for the quagmire? Afghanistan arguably has the worst human living conditions on earth.

His refusal to champion a single payer health care system?

It wouldn’t have passed. This whole thing was his initiative, and you can’t say a large first step towards universal health care isn’t liberal policy.

dpworkin's avatar

I can, and I have. You don’t begin a negotiation having dropped it from consideration unless you never wanted it in the first place.

cockswain's avatar

So many concessions needed to be made to get HCR through the House and Senate. Zero chance of getting it through with single payer and he knew it.

He’s condemning the Arizona immigration law and having a task force examine the constitutionality. He has immigration reform on his agenda (but we don’t know how it will look yet admittedly). I don’t know, I just don’t see what you can call him if not liberal. Are you suggesting he’s a conservative?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

I think Diane Woods would have been a better choice. She most closely resembles Stevens in her rulings, and this would keep the Court at its status quo.

dpworkin's avatar

He is a right-of-center Democrat who would have been considered a Rockefeller Republican in the 1970s if he had been White. Where is the end of DADT? Where are civil Gay marriages? Where is a Liberal appointment to the Supreme Court? (He has had two chances.) All you have done is de-define Liberal. Maybe because you are not old enough to remember what Liberalism used to be here in the USA.

cockswain's avatar

Fair enough. But isn’t he going after “don’t ask don’t tell” right now? I know a general conceded it should be overturned. He is pro-gay marriage, isn’t he? I mean, how can he fix all these things in 15 months? Look how congested Congress was with HCR for all that time.

How could he get a liberal judge confirmed? You said this earlier in this thread: ”The Republicans are very disciplined, and can keep things in suspended animation indefinitely

Perhaps I’m overly optimistic. Yes, I wasn’t in my early 20s in the late-60s, and won’t pretend I know what that was all about beyond what I’ve read and heard. but I did watch a documentary about William Kunstler a couple nights ago. It is entirely possible what you and I consider the word “liberal” to define are several degrees apart. “Right of center” still falls under the “liberal” category in my eyes, but I respect you’ve got other views.

dpworkin's avatar

It’s probably this darned old generation gap.

janbb's avatar

Yeah – I told you not to trust anyone under 30!

cockswain's avatar

Does being 34 give me a shred of credibility then?

janbb's avatar

mayhaps a shred. :-)

cockswain's avatar

(sigh of relief)

cockswain's avatar

Hey, just found this. Apparently Kagan is getting some flak from the right for her anti-DADT sentiments.

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