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Friday, January 29, 2010

Strategery Behind Dem Attacks On The Sup Ct

Why the sudden slew of attacks on the Supreme Court, specifically Justices Alito and Roberts, by leading Democrats?

The decision in the Citizens United case, which struck down on First Amendment grounds some legislative restrictions on campaign speech by corporations, is the excuse but not the reason.

The Citizens United decision is not a clear victory for either political party, since corporate spending will be matched if not exceeded by union spending, and as we have seen in the health care debate, large corporate interests often support Obama's agenda. Nonetheless, Pat Leahy (D-Vt) has declared the decision the "most partisan decision since Bush v. Gore."

Yet numerous Democratic leaders, not just Obama, are on the offensive against Alito and Roberts, claiming that they "misled" Congress during their confirmation proceedings as to whether they would respect case precedent.

This assertion is patently false. Neither nominee (nor any other nominee in history) ever commits to never overturning an incorrect prior decision of the Court. Many of the most historic Supreme Court decisions, such as Brown v. Bd. of Education, overturned longstanding precedent.

So why the anger and fury?

Let me suggest it has something to do with likelihood that Justice Stevens will be retiring at the end of this term. Democrats are attempting to paint Alito and Stevens Roberts as extremists who misled Congress in order to pressure Obama to pick an activist liberal justice to replace Stevens, and then to justify confirmation.

The argument will go that since Alito and Roberts are activist on the right, there must be an activist on the left appointed as a counterbalance.

There is method to Democrats' madness in attacking the Citizens United decision and in demonizing Alito and Roberts. But it's still madness.

Update: Not surprisingly, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), whose unhinged rant on the floor of the Senate last month launched his career as the Senate's Alan Grayson, has taken a lead in attacking the Supreme Court's "right-wing" activism:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., for instance, said on the Senate floor Friday that he sees the court's recent decision to allow unfettered corporate and union spending on elections (though not as direct aid to candidates) as an overt bid by the majority conservative bloc to pursue "Republican political goals." ...

"Connect the dots," said Whitehouse. "Republicans are the party of the corporations. The judges are the appointees of the Republicans, and the judges just delivered for the corporations. It is being done in plain view."

Tellingly, both Leahy and Whitehouse are on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Leahy is the Chair).

Related Posts:
Alito Was Not "Rude" Enough To His Arrogancy
A Window Into His Divisive Soul
Yes To Sotomayor

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  1. "...attempting to paint Alito and Stevens as extremists who misled Congress...."

    I believe that should read: "Alito and Roberts" - is that correct?

    And - excellent point. I did not know that Stevens was retiring soon; I thought it would be Ginsbrg...she sure looked ready to retire at the SOTU on Wednesday! She seemed to nearly nod off - again! - during the long, LONG, LOOONG speech.

  2. Sorry about my tottally lack of knowldge on USSC, but how are the odds of Justice Stevens keeping his chair three more years after this speech?

  3. I think the key question is whether Stevens and/or Ginsberg retire before the next Congress is seated. Since the next Congress is likely to contain many more Republicans which would make cofirmation of a far left candidate more difficult. Ginsberg has pancreatic cancer and is unlikely to see the end of Obama's term. Stevens is 89, and has been on the SCOTUS since '72, anybody's guess if he'll be here in 3 years.

  4. Well, Stevens needs to stay put. It's his patriotic duty to this country.

  5. This is such a canard. Forget about whether or not Alito and/or Roberts lied during their confirmation hearings about respect for precedent, the Congressmen had no right to ask such a stupid question and are admitting that they submitted the candidates to a litmus test, highly inappropriate. They are only expected to judge them on their being qualified and of sufficient moral character.

    Besides, there is no legal or ethical argument that can be made that all prior rulings should be permanent. When the SCOTUS ruled that slavery was unconstitutional, they were reversing thousands of years of precedent. Was that improper? Same with women's suffrage and other rulings that reversed how many years of injustice.

    Progress is by definition admitting that the past was wrong and so needs to be corrected. By arguing that Alito and Roberts lied, their accusers are implying that our laws are perfect and can never be reconsidered. Intellectually bankrupt. There is just no defending such addle-mindedness.

  6. That would make 3 of the justices due to retire. Kennedy is getting long in the tooth as well. I hope that he will not consider retirement until this Administration is finished.

    What is so very strange is that if one actually reads the decision, one can see that this is not the green light claimed by the Dems. They are the real liars.

    To give an example, it has just come to light that the SEIU is financing some new ad campaigns. It took some sleuthing to connect the SEIU because there were two PACs in between them and the group making the ad. The Dems have been using this method of hiding the real donors for several years, and in particular it was used during the Obama campaign.... in fact a lot of those donations came from overseas...

  7. I thought of a great tag for Obama's polcies:

    Crony Socialism.

    I think this decision is poor; corporations exist via statues so I think Congress ought to be able to regulate them broadly. I'm pro-business, but this seems sloppy. I'm content to consider it a one-off for some anti-Constitutionalism I don't like policy-wise.

  8. This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 1/30/2010, at The Unreligious Right

  9. Before commenting, I read on a blog or on a news outlet that applications to the Cornell Law School are up considerably in spite of the dismal outlook for employment in the field (could always go into banking, lol).

    Commentators knocked themselves out with stats and wonderful responses. Mine was simple:


    My read on the "event" and its aftermath.

    Dear Sen. Whitehouse. The President also misrepresented himself when up for approval. He WAS a centrist who wanted to bring factions together. He has accomplished just the opposite.

    Further, in making his accusations where and when he did, he was again demonstrating that he views himself as being uber alles and can say anything he wants to say - as in "the Cambridge Police acted stupidly" - a phrase that has lingered with me as the first defining moment of his uber alles presidency.

    Democrat Progressives have become vicious practitioners of venomous oratory. Perhaps they are trying to impress dictatorial powers around the globe that only respect this kind of behavior in "leaders."

    This is not democracy, this is slander; this is not democracy, this is intimidation of the minority and in this instance Obama intimidated an entire branch of government that exists to ensure balance of power.

    Whitehouse and Obama yesterday presented to the American people the two sides of the Obama Administration position: Obama making nice with Republicans at their retreat; Whitehouse making mad, divisive comments in the Senate Chamber. Obama not only speaks out of both sides of his mouth but approves of this methodology for the Congressional Democrats.

    When will the Gods bring earthquakes to Washington? And there will be no moral imperitive to dig out the Democrats!