Third Party & Independents Archives

Why didn't the Supreme Court play in this year's ads?

Back in January, during the Samuel Alito confirmation process, I noted the following at AtlasBlogged:

If the Democrats had any confidence in their ability to win the Senate in the 2006 elections, they would have filibustered Alito and forced the Republican hand.

But it seems they are wisely saving the filibuster issue for the next nominee - the one to replace John Paul Stevens. We speculate the elderly Justice Stevens will retire (or be poisoned) before the end of Bush's term. And you thought we had heard the end of the "nuclear option" vs "constitutional option" debate, and the (un)importance of Roe vs Wade.
(To be clear, the poisoning comment was a joke. Follow the link and you'll understand.)

I am very surprised that this has not been a prominent part of the Get Out The Vote efforts. I mean for the Democrats, and for the Republicans. The process of placing a justice on the Supreme Court is so contentious that it seems like a great strategy for both parties to rally the base. Stop the ACLU posted an article on it last night, linking to this rumor about Justice Stevens’ health. But at eighty six years of age, Justice Stevens does not have to be in poor health right now in order for SCOTUS appointments to be a GOTV issue. It’s just really surprising to me that so little noise has been made about this, what with control of both houses having been called into question this cycle, and with several senate races being too close to call.

If it doesn’t get mentioned in the ads, it won’t be on people’s minds. SCOTUS: Out of sight, out of mind. Do both major parties really think that it would not have been good for the campaign to have voters thinking about it?

I am a little curious to know what Justice Stevens will have to say about the confirmation hearings for whoever is nominated to be Stevens’ successor (assuming he lives through the confirmation process, that is). After all, he didn’t seem to have any problem discussing John Roberts during his confirmation. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but commenting on your own successor might be even more bizarre.

Posted by Wulf at November 5, 2006 1:08 PM
Comment #193534

The Supreme Court news has centered on values issues. And the values issue is no longer one Republicans want to wave in the face of voters in this election due to the many values scandals their politicians have been caught up in.

Democrats don’t want to touch the issue for obvious reasons, their general position on gays, abortion, and church are a liability with more than half the electorate.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 6, 2006 2:40 AM
Comment #193591

Ummm, because this isn’t a presidential election, and I believe the president appoints the Supremes. (Wouldn’t it be nice if it were Diana Ross?)

Posted by: gergle at November 6, 2006 12:17 PM
Comment #193593

The Supreme Court upheld abuse of eminent domain laws.
That does not bode well for the future.
It smells like a Supreme Court that carries the water for the wealthy elitists that abuse vast wealth and power to control a government that is increasingly FOR-SALE.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 6, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #193685

But Gergle, the Senate does play a significant role - which is why we do not have a Justice Harriet Meyers right now.

I think David is right - Democrats would only make themselves look like obstructionists on this issue. And Republicans are weak on values at the moment. But I’m still very surprised that it wasn’t pushed even at the fringes. There are plenty of people in this nation who think we are in a culture war, and the courts are the battle ground. It really speaks poorly of these two parties if neither one is able to make court appointments into an issue for voters.

Posted by: Wulf at November 6, 2006 6:05 PM
Comment #193707

I disagree, Wulf, that it hasn’t been an issue—Bush has certainly been talking about it in his campaign speeches, and plenty of candidates have been talking about it to one degree or another.

There have been reports of Stevens imminent demise/retirement for years now, so it just isn’t as pressing an issue as others out there right now.

Also, I’d be very surprised to see the Democrats shoot down any qualified nominee—even in one in the mold of Alito or Roberts—if Bush makes another appointment. You have to remember that the Alito and Roberts nominations went over quite well with the political middle.

Even if the Dems get a senate majority, it’s unlikely that they’d get moderate Democrats (or Lieberman) to sign on for blocking a qualified nominee for ideological reasons. And if they’re still in the minority, it’s out of the question.

Definitely not heading into the 08 presidential election: a judicial fight would be a huge gift to the Republicans. And you can believe that John McCain in particular would love nothing so much as a fight over a Supreme Court nominee heading into his presidential campaign.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at November 6, 2006 8:37 PM
Comment #193756


You might want to go back and check out just which justices were on the side of imminent domain abuse and which were on the side of everyday Americans.(HINT: The evil Scalia and Thomas don’t look so evil on this issue)

Posted by: Duane-o at November 6, 2006 11:11 PM
Comment #193823

I never said which judges were on the side of eminent domain abuse, and have never said Scalia or Thomas were evil or looked evil or concurred on the judgement. If my memory is correct, Scalia, O’Connor, and Thomas dissented.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 7, 2006 12:57 PM
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