One can only wonder what the mindset of a newly appointed Supreme Court nominee would be in these days of hyper-partisan political wrangling with divided party control and a country so split down the middle that talk of a national divorce is growing in volume and frequency by the hour.
Not only must said nominee dread the prospect of having their (including their family’s) life dissected in full view (well, in truth, this only happens to Republicans), their names smeared, reputations slandered and faces plastered all over the tabloid-like establishment media for weeks, if not months, perhaps the most daunting obstacle of all is the very real possibility that they’ll never retire on their own terms.
Even congressman in safe districts, bureaucrats and teacher’s union leaders have that power of choice. But when a Supreme Court justice decides to leave – or dies -- the world is set on fire at the release of the news.
Yes, it’s true, if successfully approved by the senate, a Supreme Court justice can serve for life. A pair of judges exercised that option in just the past seven-plus years -- Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In the latter’s example, she’d been sick for years and refused to exit when a liberal president was in power.
In times long past it wasn’t all that uncommon for justices appointed by Democrats to retire during a Republican’s tenure, realizing that whomever came after themselves could have an entirely different constitutional judicial philosophy. But Democrats could also take heart that there probably were a good number of “moderate” Republican-appointed jurists -- such as Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter (who was a dedicated liberal) or Anthony Kennedy -- to act as “swing” votes and therefore purportedly keep “balance” on the Court.
Therefore, the Court always has a way of steadying itself, so to speak. Now, however, the embarrassingly difficult and specious confirmation hearings (or non-confirmation hearings) of Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett would virtually guarantee Democrats a full “vetting”, if not worse.
The Supreme Court’s recent decisions on Obamacare, Illegal immigration, Abortion, Joe Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness program, Affirmative Action, the Second Amendment, state legislature redistricting powers and various forms of religious freedom have all served to magnify the importance of personnel on the Court. The anger that liberals expressed in the wake of rulings they saw as unfavorable to their leftist cause has since turned to rage – and in some cases, violence.
It goes without saying that if liberals were to get their chance to replace a couple of the current Court’s stalwart conservatives, they would regard it as an opportunity to “win” back some of what they lost, to obtain through judicial fiat what they couldn’t cram through Congress. Constitutional “originalism” is back in vogue, and the left hates it.
If there were Supreme Court retirements pending, the 2024 election dynamics would never be the same. In an article titled “Retirement talk surrounding Thomas, Alito raises stakes for 2024 election”, Alexander Bolton reported at The Hill:
“Lawmakers are looking ahead to the 2024 election as a pivotal opportunity to shape the future of the Supreme Court because of the possibility that conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, 75, and Samuel Alito, 73, could retire. Democrats are worried that if Biden loses and the GOP wins the Senate majority, it could allow a GOP president to replace both men with younger conservatives who could rule far into the future.
“’It’s critical. President Biden, who I feel confident will be reelected, needs to be able to put more judges on the bench, federal judges, including Supreme Court. It is absolutely critical that the Senate remain in Democratic hands,’ said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who will retire at the end of next year.
“Stabenow warned that if Republicans flip the White House and Senate and replace Thomas and Alito with younger conservatives, ‘it would be devastating for anyone who cares about privacy and their own personal freedom,’ alluding to last year’s 6-3 Supreme Court opinion that overturned the constitutional right to an abortion and raised questions about other rights protected by the 14th Amendment.”
Hogwash. The Court’s current course, as verified by recent decrees, is to grant a great deal of deference to states and localities to make up their own collective minds as to how to govern themselves. Liberals threw a hissy fit over Roe v. Wade being tossed out, but the Dobbs decision didn’t lead to the end of abortion. Far from it. Some states, such as California, New York and Illinois doubled down on infant in utero execution.
Other states, such as Florida, banned the practice after a certain number of weeks. The state-level fights were intense, but at least the voters in those places got a much larger say in the matters after the Supreme Court acted. Isn’t that regarded as the concept of federalism?
But instead of general acceptance of racial blindness (end of affirmative action in college admissions), the right to bear arms (Second Amendment cases) or limitations on Congress to nationalize local issues, the left goes bonkers and says things like what Stabenow uttered above, namely that “privacy” has been eliminated and “personal freedom” has gone by the wayside. In reality, it’s just the opposite.
So, basically now, liberals are mounting a death watch for two of America’s greatest constitutional minds. They’ll do anything to keep senile Joe upright and in power, but not the guys with brilliantly functioning brains. Talk about hypocrisy.
It’s a really strange – and sad – phenomenon that so many in this country (again, all entirely on the left) are hedging bets on the mortality of distinguished government servants such as Justices Alito and Thomas. I speak for myself – I welcomed the potential Supreme Court opening in 2020, but in no way, shape or form was I rooting for Justice Ginsburg to succumb to her diseases. She should’ve retired but was clearly hanging on to see if President Trump was defeated.
That’s certainly not the case with Justices Alito and Thomas. Thomas has said many times that he intends to serve as long as he can, and, Alito, to my knowledge, hasn’t tossed out any hints that his departure was imminent. I also speculate that neither would dream of bowing out now, recognizing full well that their seat would be occupied by an ideologically malleable liberal who matches senile Joe Biden’s pre-determined race, gender and ideology checklist, effectively another affirmative action hire who “fits the robe”.
Perhaps Biden would try to make history by appointing the first transgender justice. It could happen.
Both Thomas and Alito will go down in history as two of the greatest defenders of the Constitution and its ratified protections of God-given individual rights and freedoms. It’s liberals who trust unelected judges to decide whether racial (or sexual, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) classifications should enjoy special privileges under the 1787-based Law that Governs Government.
So let’s assume that both Thomas and Alito remain in place until the end of next year. Were one of them to step down or fail to complete another term by other means, the vacancy – and subsequent appointment – would almost certainly be rammed through the senate by “Chucky” Schumer, as revenge for being pushed to the side by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016 and 2020.
You will likely recall that if McConnell hadn’t held the opening until the 2016 election that current Attorney General Merrick Garland would’ve possibly been confirmed and he’d be poisoning the Court for decades to come just like he’s doing to the Justice Department as the nation’s top law enforcement official now. What a nightmare.
Therefore, there’s a likelihood that future Supreme Court appointments will, as the senators quoted in Bolton’s story suggest, be a major issue going into the primary and general elections next year. Donald Trump, as he’s done a lot lately, will claim credit for adjusting the personnel on the Court to boost the pro-life Cause and give hope to all conservatives that judicial tyranny will have been defeated for many years to come.
Democrats will take the opposite approach, morbidly suggesting that Alito and Thomas are nearing the end of the actuarial table and that the election, along with the power to appoint more justices like Ketanji Brown Jackson (to return to the activist Court days when its members dredged up “penumbras” and peculiar legal premises to discover “rights” that aren’t really there, such as the as ability to marry a person of your same sex), is crucial to “progress” and restitution for past wrongs.
Bolton’s article also pointed out that the battle for control of the senate will reach its maximum next year, since whoever makes the senate calendar is vital for scheduling hearings and moving the process. It’s also a given that both parties would struggle to confirm nominees with the current makeup of the chamber being so closely divided at 51-49 (including three independents who caucus with and act like Democrats).
West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin may or may not run for reelection next year, so it’s hard to predict what the partisan numbers will look like when the next president is sworn-in in January, 2025. Winnable races (for the GOP) in Ohio, Montana and Wisconsin (among others) will make potential Supreme Court vacancies a top issue for voters to hash over, and will definitely attract millions in leftist dollars to bolster liberal Democrat senators’ campaigns.
As of today, there are no Supreme Court vacancies and here’s thinking there won’t be for the foreseeable future. But this doesn’t mean the Supreme Court – and other nominations – won’t be brought up as a scare tactic by Democrats to employ in selling the candidacy of senile Joe Biden or any other party nominee. To liberals, the law is in the mind of the beholder. Who will prevail?
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