As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically. Antonin Scalia
Supreme Court justices are appointed for life and not accountable to the electorate so that they can make decisions without consideration of politics. In theory, this this a noble goal but, in practice it falls short. Most Supreme Court nominees have been politically charged. The oath of all judges and politicians is to “protect and defend the Constitution”. However, the court has become two voting blocs, the strict constitutionalists versus the living constitutionalists.
Antonin Scalia provoked extreme emotions from his followers and detractors. As the longest serving justice of our present Supreme Court, the Reagan nominee has ruled on cases the last three decades. His polarizing votes and writings resulted in tasteless celebrations of his passing. He was a justice but also a good man. His friendships were not limited to people with similar ideological stances.
One of his best friends on the Court was uber-liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. They disagreed vehemently on some of the most pivotal cases but, remained friends. They did their jobs and then left the court work at court to continue their personal lives. What a great example to all of us.
Scalia recommended his friend uber-liberal Elena Kagan as a nominee to the court. She was passed over for Sotomayor during Obama’s first appointment but then was the nominee for his second appointment. He respected strength and conviction, even among his opponents.
Scalia will be missed for his influence on the court and for his professional conduct. As expected, his unexpected passing has become a political firestorm in this election year. Politicians who regularly disregard the Constitution, from both sides of the Senate, are now claiming that we must adhere to the Constitution. Their opinions are polar opposites but they all claim that the Constitution must be honored. Let’s look some instances of politics and the Supreme Court.
John Tyler nominated five justices that were rejected by the Whig controlled senate. The Whig’s believed that the Federal government trumped state’s rights. Tyler stuck to his Constitutional oath that the Federal Government is limited and all implied rights are ceded to the States.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt demanded that the Supreme Court bend to his will. When they didn’t then he proposed an amendment to expand the court from 9 to 15 members so that he could appoint 6 new justices to the bench. His proposal was rejected by the Congress.
George H. W. Bush appointed David Souter after his first two nominees were rejected by the democrat controlled Senate. Souter was a liberal in conservative clothing. He became a swing voter for the next 19 years. Even though he was appointed by a Republican, he waited for Obama to be elected before stepping down. His replacement was uber-liberal Sotomayor.
Nominees from both parties have planned their departures for when a President from their preferred party is in office. This is a political maneuver for all justices. Presidents and senates battle over a candidate that was be true to their beliefs. The days of appointing an unbiased candidate that will interpret the Constitution according to what is written is fading. One of the most influential and long lasting impacts of any president is the appointment of a Supreme Court justice. Scalia’s passing has elevated the nomination of his successor to the center of this election campaign.