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'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Justice Stevens, the Supreme Court

The recently announced retirement of Justice Stevens highlights the primary reason I will not be able to abide another Republican President until either the balance of the court changes of the philosophy of the party does. I mentioned the other day that one of my fears after Bush v Gore was the inevitable hard-right shift of the court. Bush replaced the hard-right Chief Justice Rehnquist was the even more hard-right, yet much, MUCH younger Chief Justice John Roberts. But that was only insurance, it didn't created a shift it just prolonged the status quo. The real shift came when regular swing-vote, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired, we get the hard-right Samuel Alito. (Or Justice "Scalito," as I think you can safety call him.) THAT was HUGE.

Prior to that, the vast majority of non-unanimous case lined up with Rehnquist, Thomas and Scalia on one side, Breyer, Souter, Stevens and Ginsberg on the other and both O'Connor and Kennedy as swing votes. And O'Connor sided with the liberal wing more often than Kennedy did. By the time Bush was done The Right had Roberts, Thomas, Scalia and ALITO voting reliably in one four-vote block, Breyer, Souter, Stevens and Ginsberg reliably voting in the other... and suddenly Justice Anthony Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world. (Honestly? Looking at how things worked out? At this point, I'd have strongly preferred Harriet Myers! File that under, "Be careful what you wish for!")

So Obama has now replaced the retiring Justice Souter with Justice Sotomayor, and will soon have to nominate a replacement for Stevens. And not to be morbid, but givien Justice Ginsberg's health issues, I'll give you even odds that he'll be facing a third vacancy within this term, and I'll guarantee you he'll be filling her seat if he wins reelection! Now just imagine for a moment what the prospect for our civil liberties going forward would look like if JOHN McCAIN (with Sarah Palin whispering in his ear ala Greema Wormtounge) had the opportunity to replace 3/4 of the court’s liberal wing! The ACLU might as well close up shop right now!  And I have to tell you, knowing that the three of the four memebers of the "liberal wing" were also the three oldest members of the court made another conservtaive presidency a truly terrifying prospect for me.  How this wouldn't scare the crap out of ANY freedom loving American, I'll just never understand.

Anyway, that's all I really wanted to say.  As for who Obama chooses?  I'm not all that concerned.  I'm sure it will be someone, like the other three members of the Liberal Block that reliable VOTE liberally.  But that's not really the problem.  The problem is that whomever he chooses will probably not have the charisma and influence that Stevens had, and thus will almost certainly not have the level of skill in persuading Justice Kennedy that Justice Stevens had.  So while we'll still have our FOUR reliable votes, we'll inevitably be less able and likely to get that fifth vote.  Can't be helped, but if McCain had won, it wouldn't even be a issue.


  1. ABC News ran an absolutely appalling report on Stevens' retirement yesterday in which it noted that he was the last Protestant on the court--all of the others are Catholics or Jewish--and questioned if this would be a factor in the nomination! As if that wasn't bad enough, the report then listed several potential nominees (most of them AWFUL, btw), and listed THEIR religions!

    A few notes on the larger issue: It isn't true there's a "liberal wing" on the current court. That's "conventional wisdom" bullshit. There are only two more-or-less reliable liberals (Ginsberg and Stevens). The make-up of the court, for many years, has been that there's a conservative wing and a reactionary wing. The reactionaries are usually so overreaching that they drive everyone else into often less-than-comfortable alliances with the liberals. It's no coincidence that a court virtually shorn of liberals has gained a reputation as one of the most intellectually lightweight courts ever.

    When it comes to replacing Stevens, this is an issue on which the left should offer NO compromise. The current court is an absolute nightmare, to an extent that almost no one seems to recognize. It needs to be made VERY clear to Obama that pulling more Sotomayor-ist bullshit will NOT be tolerated. Obama needs to nominate the most extreme lefty radical he can find, and fight for that nominee until confirmation is achieved.

    The other relevant story in the news--one that got almost no play--is that Obama has pulled the plug on his nominee to head the White House Office of Legal Counsel. His nominee, Dawn Johnsen, was a die-hard opponent of everything Bush's OLC did--like making official policy the idea that Bush had unchallengeable fascist powers--and, with Republicans obstructing the nomination, Johnsen has just "withdrawn." Translation: been thrown overboard. This was one of the VERY few liberals Obama nominated to a top slot, and this is how he supports her.

    Given what's happened, I think she'd make a hell of a Supreme Court nominee.

    But whoever Obama nominates needs to be a die-hard opponent of Bush's assumed powers. Most of the potential choices outlined by ABC News last night were not, and that needs to be a threshold issue, a carved-in-stone litmus test. Anyone who even even entertained the idea that Bush's executive powers were legitimate belongs nowhere near the court, and it should be made clear to the Obama that such a creature will NOT be tolerated as the nominee.

    The lunatic fringe right managed to beat back Harriet Miers and get another reactionary, instead. Two can play that game, and the liberals damn well better be ready to play it. They didn't with Sotomayor, and we're stuck with her for decades, now. With the replacement for Stevens, there can be no "compromise."

  2. I hear you.

    There's one thing I've come to realize though. You mention that there's a Conservtaive Wing and Reactionary Wing. And you're right, of course. But I think there's a reason that, unless you're in the reactionary mold, you're going to tend to vote liberal once apointed to the court. And that's because the job of defending and upholding the U.S. Contitution is inherently a liberal endevour. It's a LIBERAL DOCUMENT after all!

    So I'm OK with counting Souter & Stevens as "Liberals," based on how they voted in any of the more contrentious (5-4) cases and based on the fact that, if anything, they'd have been in the more libertarian wing of the Republican Party - the part I basically identified myself with, back when it still had a voice. (Before the funny-mentalists took over and the Libertarians sold out their principled stance on civil liberties in favor of lesse-faire corporatism and money money money.)

    But regardless of how one might LEGISLATE, when it comes to freedom, unless your going to be a ACTIVIST JUDGE in the mold of these so- called "constructionists" like Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito (and Rehnquist before them) you're going to end up casting your share of liberal votes. And, like I said, for the life of me I'll never understand hos someone gets brainwashed into thinking that defending CORPORATE Rights, while taking AWAY rights from citizens somehow constitutes "FREEDOM."

    Those people are sofa king stupid.

    I'll part ways with you on one thing though. While I'd like to see a REAL LIBERAL on the court, one that would satisfy all of your criteria (because then they'd more than satisfy MINE) I would be willing to settle for a more moderat liberal if what was lost in idealism was made up for in their ability to influence the swing votes. Because it's like you said: The reactionary wing is so appalling they prectically FORCE the moderate conservtives to go with the liberals. But KENNEDY is, appartantly, hard to apall, yet realitive easy to infuence. So someone who can pull him (and future swing votes) to the left, IMHO, would be more useful than one who is farther to left THEMSELVES, but less able to convinvce other to come a long.

    And ideally? I'd like to see a court with only ONE hard-core RW'er and only ONE hard-core LW'er. (Meaning no more than two predicatoble votes on any given matter.) I don't think there should be 'voting blocks.' This isn't SURVIVOR for cripes sake, so let's quit with the damned alliances. I'd like to see SEVEN solid SWING votes on the court, and in ANY CASE, no less than THREE, with no MORE than THREE locks on the Left or the Right. And, OBVIOUSLY, I'd prefer MORE on the Left than the Right, but if there were 3-7 honest swing votes, all from different schools of thought, the arguments would have to be THAT MUCH BETTER, and the whole process would be so much more about the CONSTITUTION and less about the POLITICS. That's how I see it anyway. It would never HAPPEN, but that's how I'd have it.

  3. Dawn Johnson on the Supreme Court! Oh that it were so! If not her then how about the lesbian, handicapped, black woman that Beck keeps mentioning....that sounds pretty good,too.

  4. Personally, I'd love to see eiher a gay or an atheist. There are already enough handicapped members... MENTALLY handicapped, that is. (Thomas, Scalia, Roberts & Alito.) So there's quite enough of that.

    But my first choice would be anyone who leans liberal, even slightly, who can really manipulate Justice Kennedy. Maybe some really hot chick he has a crush on or something. See if he's a "real" Kennedy. LOL

    Thanks for you comment.

  5. I don't hope for anyone's death or illness, but I come close when I think about the right-leaning justices in the US Supreme Court.

  6. Anon,

    Hey, I here you. The logic these guys come up with, it just makes my blood boil. Given that we even HAVE a Sumpreme Court with the mandate that it has, we shouldn't even NEED the ACLU. The SCOTUS should BE the ACLU! But as things are, the ALCU is the COURT'S biggest adversary! That's just... BACKWARDS! Isn't it?

    Thanks for your comment.

  7. The court needs a radical, and to hell with anything less. Sotomayor was supposed to be a consensus-forging nominee. That was the big argument for her being on the court. We've already seen how that worked out. As for manipulating Kennedy, he has to be pushing 80, by now. Forget that. The advocates of "consensus-builders" have had their shot. Now, it's time for a real nominee.

  8. Anon,

    A red-blooded liberal will certainly get nothing but applause from THIS corner.

  9. As Justice Stevens has said, beginning with the Nixon appointments, every new Justice, INCLUDING HIMSELF, has been more to the right than the Justice he/she replaced. That must be reversed. Obama won't nominate Dawn Johnson, for the same reason he didn't fight for her. He's now in the position of preserving presidential powers which, before he gained the office, he knew were wrong. I would love to be wrong about this, by the way. In any case, given his penchant for preemptive compromise,
    I think the best we can hope for is that his nominee has no affiliation with the Federalist Society.