General Election and the Supreme Court


April 13, 2008, 12:33 PM
Long post, but please hear me out.

There has been a lot of talk about he's not conservative enough for the "core", how he's not 2A friendly enough, etc. That might all be true. But some have even claimed that there is no difference between Obama/McCain/Clinton. That is not only untrue, but a dangerous spread of misinformation - lest someone who doesn't know any better believe it.

You see, there is another consideration here - a big consideration - and that is Supreme Court nominations made by the president. This is, unfortunately, becoming more and more true as the court gains more and more influence politically. Sometimes even unpopular and "lame-duck" presidents leave a strong and influential legacy behind in the courts. Think what you will of GW Bush, but two men will be his main legacy...Samuel Alito and John Roberts. No big deal? Without just those two (given a Gore and/or Kerry presidency we would NOT have them), it's very possible that the court would rule this June that the 2A does NOT protect an individual right to keep and bear firearms. And then....OMG....the gun ban bills would fly like dust in west Texas.

No one really knows when a Supreme Court justice will be replaced. They are "life" appointments but often step down for health or mental reasons, etc. before the end of their lives. I am not sure about all the details and dynamics, but that's the general jist. This court makeup issue is perhaps where it will make the most difference whether a Obama/Clinton is elected or a McCain.

In general, presidents nominate potential justices who broadly share their views in an ideological sense. McCain, for a variety of reasons (including party affiliations and pressures), will nominate justices more along the lines of Alito, Roberts, Scalia, etc. Obama/Clinton will nominate those along the lines of Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer. Think it makes no difference? Wait until the Heller votes are out...

It's probable then that Ginsburg and Stevens might be the next to be replaced (see below). Stevens is by far the eldest...and Ginsburg is suffering poor health. If McCain becomes president this next term, the court has the potential to become decidedly "conservative." (Note I hate the terms "liberal" and "conservative") If Obama/Clinton become president, then the make-up of the court will probably remain about the same as it is now.

Given the likelihood that some post-Heller SCOTUS challenges are going to be coming in the next 4-5 years or so (such as incorporation), it would be very nice to have the court a little more "2A friendly." And that is what a McCain presidency would get us. Of course 2A friendly justices are often states-rights friendly. I am all for states rights....but against states powers that seek to over-rule the fundamental protections outlined in the bill of rights.... And I trust that a Scalia, Alito, Roberts, Thomas, etc., would concur.

The proof is in the pudding. I looked up the Senate confirmation votes for Justices Roberts and Alito. The results are revealing, and this quite likely will be the issue I use to justify my vote come November.

Vote to confirm Samuel Alito to United States Supreme Court Justice:
McCain YES
Clinton NO
Obama NO
Kerry NO

Vote to confirm John Roberts to United States Supreme Court Justice:
McCain YES
Clinton NO
Obama NO
Kerry NO

How senators vote is how we know them, and judge them. It is the only objective means by which we may evaluate their future positions and performance. These votes above are very meaningful - do not make the mistake of taking them lightly.

Here is a list of the justices, in order of their ages (descending), who nominated them, and when they took office.

John Paul Stevens
(age 87)
December 19, 1975

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
(age 75)
August 10, 1993

Antonin Scalia
(age 72)
September 26, 1986

Anthony Kennedy
(age 71)
February 18, 1988

Stephen Breyer
(age 69)
August 3, 1994

David Souter
(age 68)
G.H.W. Bush
October 9, 1990

Clarence Thomas
(age 59)
G.H.W. Bush
October 23, 1991

Samuel Alito
(age 58)
G.W. Bush
January 31, 2006

John Roberts (Chief Justice)
(age 53)
G.W. Bush
September 29, 2005

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April 13, 2008, 01:09 PM
Good post.

As disappointed as I am with the current Presidential candidates from both parties, I am even more dismayed to hear from those who intend to sit out the general since none of the choices fit their ideal. I am disgusted too, but I'll vote nonetheless.

The potential for damage that can be inflicted by four years in the executive office is large, but transient. Supreme court appointments endure for decades. Judicial branch decisions have permanent and far-reaching effects.

April 13, 2008, 01:16 PM
As much as I despise McCain, I'll take his nominees over more Clinton hacks or Obama ideologues.

Samuel Adams
April 13, 2008, 01:44 PM
There is only one standard on which we must judge our elected officials. That standard is the US Constitution in its Original Intent. Anything else is criminal. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil and for that very reason I won't be voting for Obama, Clinton, nor McCain. This is a firearms forum and the 2nd Amendment being one of the most important of the Bill of Rights is more incentive to hold up that standard.

April 13, 2008, 01:51 PM
Voting for the lesser of two evils is really the only viable option at this point. Not voting for McCain is a vote for Hillary or Obama. Sure, we could vote for some independent just to make a point, but it is a point that no one will actually notice or care about. If McCain loses because Conservatives refuse to vote for him, those Conservatives will have to endure a minimum of four years of hell, and know they are partly to blame for it. McCain is an absolutely horrible Republican nominee, but he is who we are stuck with! Better McCain than Obama or Hillary!

April 13, 2008, 02:25 PM
We absolutely have to vote for McCain, and let the GOP know that he is exactly the kind of candidate that we want in the future.
Yes, we will probably suffer more under a Dem than under McCain, but not necessarrily so, and I firmly believe that a Dem presidency will build a strong groundswell back to the Constitution (note that I did not say back to the Republicans) for future elections. That is the audicity of my hope: that although things will get worse, they will get better because of it.

Of course, here in California, I can freely cast my vote based on principle (rp):evil:, since all California electoral votes will go to the Dems. :cuss::banghead:

Derek Zeanah
April 13, 2008, 04:09 PM
This board has been around long enough that we have a chance to look back a bit and see how these issues have been argued in the past. It seems to go like this:

1. Argue that "our" guy isn't as bad as the alternative. Some won't buy in to this, so instead...

2. Talk about ancient folks on the Supreme Court and the importance of appointments.

We saw this a lot in the last general election, and as a result we had a President who wanted to see Harriet Myers and Alberto Gonzales sitting on the Supreme Court. Hooray!

I don't think it's any more compelling this time than it was last time, thanks. Vote the way you want, but I'm one who recognizes that our system is broken in that every election we get to choose between bad candidates on "both" sides of the aisle.

We're screwed whichever way we go. Personally? I think we'd have seen fewer encroachments on our liberties if Bush hadn't been in office, as Republicans in congress pretty much rubber stamped whatever he wanted. We're worse off as a nation because of it.

Me? I don't know. Doubt I'll vote for McCain, Obama, or Clinton though.

Derek Zeanah
April 13, 2008, 04:15 PM
Oh yeah - this is OT and will be closed. Of course, I like these kinds of topics and participated before I thought about it, but someone will be along soon to close it. :D

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