Friday, July 01, 2005

Justice O'Connor: An Unwanted Legacy

The Legacy of Sandra Day O’Connor, who resigned her seat on the Supreme Court this morning, as seen from today's National Review Online[The Irony Of Justice O'connor,by Ramesh Ponnuru]:

Second, her career on the Court--along with those of Justices Kennedy, Souter, and to a lesser extent Stevens--made the Right suspicious of nominees whose loyalty to conservative principles had not been explicitly demonstrated. Conservatives learned that nominees often drifted left, and almost never drifted right, and adjusted their demands accordingly. It may not be the legacy she wanted, but it's the one she's left [Apparently, no pun intended].”

The New York Times weighs in with an analysis, disguised as news, that is peculiar at best:

The President's comments [that he wanted his replacement of O’Connor to have a fair treatment] could be interpreted as a signal that he plans to name a conservative to fill Justice O'Connor's seat, and thus tilt the court further to the right.”

When you think about it, if the New York Times reporter, Richard Stevenson, thinks that a conservative replacement to O’Connor would “tilt the court further to the right,” then he must think Justice O’Connor was not a conservative, making her either a “liberal” or more likely, “a centrist swing vote.” No doubt, Justice Kennedy would fall within the same category of a “centrist swing vote.” Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Stephens and Souter would clearly fall within the “liberal,” voting block on the Supreme Court and Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas within the conservative voting block on the Supreme Court.

So, it should be clear that the NYT’s Stevenson has the court pegged as a four liberals, three conservatives, two centrists ideological split. If so, how does that come out as a “right” Supreme Court. And, if the court is NOT now on the “Right,” how could a Bush nomination of an O’Connor replacement push the court FURTHER to the right. In the lingo of the NYT, how indeed?

Slate, which is unabashedly left, has a good short list, here, of the likely nominees to replace “O’Connor. One, in particular stands out, Mike McConnell, who followed me, by a year, at the University of Chicago Law School and edited a law review comment I co-authored for the University of Chicago Law Review. As Bazelon and Newman note, the combination of 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge McConnell’s hard line [of course, they are going to say hard line, it is Slate] conservative views with his sunny disposition could make him extremely effective at bringing about change. Bazelon and Newman also emphasize that liberal law professors supported McConnell when he was nominated for his current judgeship, perhaps because of his distinguished academic teaching and research credentials at the University of Chicago and University of Utah, as well as his winning personality.

Moreover, when I asked then Democratic Primary U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama what he thought of his former colleague, Mike McConnell, as a Supreme Court nominee—Obama did not quite endorse McConnell as a nominee, but he did say some nice things about him. Perhaps I should dig up that tape.

Most importantly, as I noted, above, Judge McConnell did edit the law review comment that I co-authored, so I think the producer of “Public Affairs,” might be able to line up a Justice McConnell as a guest to be interviewed by the host of that TV show. How do you like them apples?
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at *****************************************