Hugo Black

Utah Senator Mike Lee Seems To Have An Edge For Supreme Court Nomination

On June 28, this blogger suggested that Utah Senator Mike Lee was a likely potential possibility for the Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He would be a rarity, a sitting United States Senator, chosen for the Supreme Court.

There is no requirement that a sitting Federal Court judge must be chosen, although that has become the tradition since Governor Earl Warren of California was chosen to be Chief Justice by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, with only Sandra Day O’Connor, who served in the Arizona State Senate, and chosen by Ronald Reagan in 1981, having any elective experience since then.

As stated on June 28, we had Senators earlier, including most impressively, Hugo Black, who had done good deeds on the Supreme Court.

So the belief that Mike Lee has the advantage comes to the forefront again. It was announced that Lee had been interviewed for the position, so he is on the short list.

Lee is 47, which from the viewpoint of Donald Trump and conservatives, is ideal, meaning a 35 year term on the Supreme Court under normal circumstances.

Lee is a sometimes critic of Trump, who did not back him, which makes him seem independent of any influence by Trump if Lee was on the Court.

Lee is pro life, which would make it hard for Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to support him, but neither is needed as long as some Red State Democrats—Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp—all who voted for Neil Gorsuch last year—support him. And both Collins and Murkowski ended up voting for Gorsuch, so their protestations seem weak.

It would be difficult for either Collins or Murkowski to vote against their own party and Senate colleague in the end, as after all, both voted for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and Collins even gave a strong endorsement presentation before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his nomination to the Justice Department, despite his outrageous racism.

So I suggest that Lee might be the choice of Trump, and more likely to sail through confirmation, and with a likely 53-46 vote (without John McCain voting), and possibly more Red State Democrats justifying the vote for their “Senate colleague”!

Party loyalty and Senatorial “courtesy” give Mike Lee the advantage, at least in theory, but we shall see!

What If Utah Senator Mike Lee Is Nominated For Supreme Court?

Early speculation on who Donald Trump might select to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court centers on Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, an original Tea Party member, having served in the Senate, and promoting libertarian ideas since 2011.

Not always a supporter of Trump, and not backing him in 2016 due to the Access Hollywood tape, Lee would still be a prime choice for Trump.

Lee is only 47 and could be expected to serve on the Court until 2050 and beyond.

He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has to consider the Supreme Court nomination, and there are 11 Republicans to 10 Democrats on that committee.

To believe that any of his GOP colleagues on the committee, or even in the Senate, would vote against their party member, is hard to conceive.

And if all 50 Republicans stay united (minus John McCain, who is not likely to return to Washington DC anytime soon), at the worst, Vice President Mike Pence can vote if need be, but a 50-49 vote is a majority, and likely, a few Democrats, in red states facing election, would cross the aisle and vote for Lee, as they did for Neil Gorsuch a year ago.

Having a Senator on the Supreme Court is not unheard of, as it has happened 15 times in American history.

Most famously, there was Alabama Democratic Senator Hugo Black, who served on the Court for 34 years from 1937 to 1971, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. And President Harry Truman appointed two Senators—Sherman Minton of Indiana, who served from 1949-1956; and Harold Burton of Ohio who served from 1945-1958.

Also, there have been 17 Congressmen who served on the Supreme Court, including Warren G. Harding appointee George Sutherland of Utah who served from 1922-1938; and Chief Justice Fred Vinson of Kentucky, who served from 1946-1953, appointed by President Truman.

Finally, 6 Governors have been appointed to the Supreme Court, the last and most famous being California Governor Earl Warren, appointed Chief Justice by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 and serving to 1969; along with significant appointments by President Abraham Lincoln of Ohio Governor Salmon P Chase to be Chief Justice, serving from 1864-1873; former New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes, first appointed to the Court by William Howard Taft from 1910 to 1916, and then returning to the Court as Chief Justice by appointment of President Herbert Hoover from 1930-1941; and Michigan Governor Frank Murphy, appointed by FDR and serving from 1940-1949.

Democratic Party Historical Accomplishments

The Democratic Party has been criticized for the fact that in its 188 year history, it was the party that promoted slavery, segregation, and lynching, being dominated for a long time by its ugly Southern membership.

This cannot be denied, but it is the Democratic Party which has also, in the last century of history, had many historical accomplishments.

Among these are:

First Catholic nominee for President–Alfred E. Smith 1928
First Catholic President elected–John F. Kennedy 1960
First Catholic Vice President elected–Joe Biden 2008
First Jewish nominee for Vice President–Joseph Lieberman 2000
First Jewish Presidential candidate as serious contender–Bernie Sanders 2016
First African American President–Barack Obama 2008
First Woman nominated for Vice President–Geraldine Ferraro 1984
First African American Presidential Contender–Shirley Chisholm 1972
First Woman nominee for President–Hillary Clinton 2016
First woman Secretary of State—Madeleine Albright under Bill Clinton
First Southerner elected President since 1848–Jimmy Carter 1976
Youngest elected President–John F. Kennedy 1960
President who gave us Social Security–Franklin D. Roosevelt 1935
President who gave us Medicare and Medicaid–Lyndon B. Johnson 1965-1966
One Term President who advanced Environmental Causes the most in history–Jimmy Carter 1977-1981
President who gave us ObamaCare–Barack Obama 2010
President who advanced Civil Rights—John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson 1960s
President to appoint first Jewish Supreme Court Justice—Woodrow Wilson 1916 (Louis Brandeis)
President to appoint first woman Jewish Supreme Court Justice—Bill Clinton 1993 (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)
President to appoint first African American Supreme Court Justice–Lyndon B. Johnson 1967 (Thurgood Marshall)
President to appoint first Hispanic-Latino Supreme Court Justice—Barack Obama 2009 (Sonia Sotomayor)
President who promoted Containment Foreign Policy with the Soviet Union—Harry Truman
President who promoted concept of international cooperation—Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt
First Woman Speaker Of The House of Representatives–Nancy Pelosi 2007
Most accomplished Congresses, Democratic controlled—-63rd and 64th (1913-1917) under Woodrow Wilson; 73rd and 74th (1933-1937) under Franklin D. Roosevelt; 89th Congress (1965-1967) under Lyndon B. Johnson; 111th Congress (2009-2011) under Barack Obama
Great Supreme Court Justices appointed by Democratic Presidents—Louis Brandeis 1916 by Woodrow Wilson; Hugo Black 1937 by Franklin D. Roosevelt; Felix Frankfurter 1939 by Franklin D. Roosevelt; William O. Douglas 1939 by Franklin D. Roosevelt; Thurgood Marshall 1967 by Lyndon B. Johnson; Ruth Bader Ginsburg 1993 by Bill Clinton; Stephen Breyer 1994 by Bill Clinton

No Comparison Between David Duke And Robert Byrd! Or For That Matter, Hugo Black, George C. Wallace, Or Strom Thurmond!

A massive controversy has arisen over the initial refusal of Donald Trump to repudiate the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke of Louisiana, who ran for Governor 25 years ago, and later for the US Senate as a Republican, losing both times, and being denounced by President George H. W. Bush and other reputable Republican leaders in the 1990s.

Those defending Trump’s hesitation are now comparing the despicable hate monger David Duke, who is not only a racist but also an anti Semite of a major order, to the late Democratic US Senator Robert Byrd, who served longer in the Senate than anyone in American history (from 1959 to his death in 2010).

No one is saying that Byrd cannot be criticized, as he was a youthful member of the Klan in West Virginia, and opposed the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s.  But over time, he evolved, and repudiated his despicable past, and even supported Barack Obama in 2008 for the nomination and election as President, and helped to make ObamaCare make a successful journey through the legislative process, including being brought in a wheel chair to cast votes for the legislation, in his last months of life.

David Duke has never done anything to repudiate his past record, and is still defiant as a racist and anti Semite, unlike Byrd.

Also, former Alabama Senator Hugo Black sat on the Supreme Court for 34 years (1937-1971), repudiating by his words and actions the fact that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his youth.

Also, Alabama Governor George C. Wallace, after running racist campaigns for President in 1968 and 1972, repudiated his past and apologized, although he was never, actually, a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Even Strom Thurmond, who ran as  a racist for President in 1948, and served in the US Senate from South Carolina from 1954-2003,  later modified his views, even if not formally apologizing for his earlier behavior and statements.

No one is saying that we cannot criticize Byrd, Black, Wallace, and Thurmond, but none of them were on the level lifetime on racism and anti Semitism of David Duke, so the comparison is preposterous!

Barack Obama’s Supreme Court Choices

Barack Obama has every right, and the responsibility, to select a replacement for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

We have never had more than 125 days from an appointment to confirmation, and never more than 114 days from an appointment to rejection by the US Senate.

The Supreme Court cannot do its proper job with eight members for more than a year, so Obama must push for his nominee, and if the GOP refuses, they will suffer in the Fall campaign in Congress and for the Presidency.

The Republicans have prevented action in the legislative branch, and tried to bottle up the executive branch, but cannot get away with blocking the judicial branch.

As far as who Barack Obama should select for the Court appointment, there are many names mentioned, but it would be good to have a Supreme Court Justice who has NOT been a federal judge, as this trend did not always exist in the past.

We need a wider variety of experiences, and one can think of Earl Warren, Governor of California, and Hugo Black, Senator from Alabama, as two exceptional Justices who never served as judges. We have had 14 Senators and 17 Congressman on the Court, with Warren an outlier, but Governor of a major state that was on its way to being number one in population.

So one can think of former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick;  Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey; Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; and Attorney General Loretta Lynch as excellent possibilities, with hints that Lynch might be the choice!  Some mention of Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has arisen, as well.

We would have our first African American woman on the Court with an appointment of Lynch, and she is used to long waits for confirmation, as with six months to become Attorney General.

IF Obama took action this week, during the recess of Congress for Presidents Day, the nominee would take his or her seat immediately, and the GOP could do nothing about it, so why not take action when one can?

But at worst, if the Court had to live with eight members, Lynch could stand by, stay as Attorney General to the end of the term, and then be chosen by Democrat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, assuming one of them become the 45th President of the United States.

But really, the Court NEEDS a new Justice NOW, and tough luck that the Republicans lose their control of the Court majority after 44 years!  Such is life, and it is time for the liberal-progressive agenda to be the majority of the Supreme Court’s future, as elections, as that of Barack Obama in 2012, DO have consequences!

Politicians Who Served On The Supreme Court In The Past Hundred Years

The Supreme Court has, in recent decades, become a group of lower court judges who move up to the Supreme Court.

The thought that politicians, who were elected to public office or appointed to a President’s cabinet, would end up on the Supreme Court, is no longer a likelihood, which is, in many ways, tragic, as being a politician gives a different perspective on law than those appointed to lower courts and moving up to the Supreme Court.

Among those few politicians elected or appointed to public office who served on the Supreme Court in the past century of time are:

Charles Evans Hughes–Governor Of New York 1907-1910, Republican Presidential nominee in 1916, Secretary of State 1921-1925, along with serving as Associate Justice 1910-1916 and Chief Justice 1930-1941, appointed by William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover.

William Howard Taft—Secretary of War 1904-1908, President of the United States 1909-1913, along with serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1921-1930, appointed by Warren G. Harding.

George Sutherland—Utah Congressman 1901-1903, Senator from Utah 1905-1917, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1922-1938, appointed by Warren G. Harding.

Hugo Black–Senator from Alabama 1927-1937, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1937-1971, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Frank Murphy–Mayor of Detroit 1930-1933, Governor of Michigan 1937-1939, Attorney General of the United States, 1939-1940, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1940-1949, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Harold Burton— Mayor of Cleveland Ohio 1936-1940, Governor Of Ohio 1941-1945, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1945-1958, appointed by Harry Truman.

Sherman Minton—Senator from Indiana 1935-1941, along with serving as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1949-1956, appointed by Harry Truman.

Earl Warren—Attorney General of California, 1939-1943, Governor of California 1943-1953, along with serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 1953-1969, appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

These eight Supreme Court Justices include four Governors, three US Senators, three Cabinet members, two Presidential candidates, one Congressman, two Mayors, and one State Attorney General.

Two prominent politicians came under consideration for the Supreme Court under President Bill Clinton, but both turned down an appointment—New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Maine Senator and Majority Leader George Mitchell.  Both would have been valuable additions to the Court, but instead two people with judicial experience—Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer—were chosen, although they have worked out very well in their time on the Court.

 

 

The 15 Greatest Supreme Court Justices Since 1900

The Supreme Court has become more controversial than ever in recent years, and the decisions of the John Roberts Court in 2015 only added fuel to the fire, regarding who the greatest and worst Supreme Court Justices have been in American history.

We have had 112 Supreme Court Justices, and 17 Chief Justices, including 5 who served as Associate Justice as well.

58 Justices have served since 1900, with a few selected before that date but serving into the 20th century. This includes 9 Chief Justices, including four who had served as Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.

If one had to select the top 15 Supreme Court Justices since 1900, without ranking them specifically, but instead creating a list chronologically, they would be listed as follows:

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Charles Evans Hughes
Louis Brandeis
Harlan Fiske Stone
Benjamin Cardozo
Hugo Black
Felix Frankfurter
William O. Douglas
Earl Warren
William J. Brennan, Jr.
Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun
John Paul Stevens
Sandra Day O’Connor
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Note that 9 of these 15 Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Republicans—Holmes by Theodore Roosevelt; Hughes by William Howard Taft and then elevated to Chief Justice by Herbert Hoover; Stone by Calvin Coolidge; Cardozo by Herbert Hoover; Warren and Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Blackmun by Richard Nixon; Stevens by Gerald Ford; and O’Connor by Ronald Reagan.

Democratic Presidents chose the following: Brandeis by Woodrow Wilson; Black, Frankfurter and Douglas by Franklin D. Roosevelt; Stone elevated to Chief Justice by FDR; Marshall by Lyndon B. Johnson; and Ginsburg by Bill Clinton.

The Republican Attack On The Constitution: A Threat To American Democracy!

The Republican Party loves to assert that the Democrats, and progressives in particular, are attacking the Constitution, and that they are the experts on the Constitution.

So therefore, in this Presidential primary season, and in the party membership in Congress, there are statements constantly attacking the court system, anytime that a federal judge or court issues a decision against the conservative view of the Constitution. There are condemnations and calls to change the court system on a regular basis.

One would think that the Democrats and their progressive friends have dominated the courts in recent decades, which, of course, is the exact opposite of the truth!

One forgets that from 1969-2011, there have been only 15 years of Democratic control of the Presidency, as compared to 28 years of Republican control.

The vast majority of federal judges have been Republican appointments, as a result, and Republican Presidents have made a total of 13 Supreme Court appointments over those years, and Democrats have made only 4, two by Bill Clinton and two by Barack Obama!

But now,. Newt Gingrich calls for judges to be required to testify before partisan Congressional committees, a violation of the separation of powers, and a danger to an independent judiciary!

What it comes down to is that Newt Gingrich and all of the Republican opponents, with maybe the exception of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, wish to create a court system that would move away from the path breaking changes that the Supreme Court brought about during the years of the Warren Court, Burger Court, and Rehnquist Court including:

Brown V. Board Of Education
Miranda V Arizona
Roe V Wade
University Of California V. Bakke
Lawrence V Texas

As it is, there are threats presented by the Republican growth of dominance on the federal courts to all of these issues–racial integration, rights of criminal suspects, abortion rights, affirmative action, and gay rights.

The Republicans will not be contented until there are reversals on all of these issues, and a return to the “good old days”, when minorities “knew their place”; police had unlimited rights over those they questioned or arrested; women had no control over their reproductive rights; minorities and women had disadvantages, as compared to white males, on educational and job opportunities; and gays were forced to remain “in the closet” and face open discrimination and hate without recourse!

So when the Republicans claim to understand what the Founding Fathers meant at the Constitutional Convention, they are forgetting that those esteemed leaders put into the Constitution the “Elastic Clause” to allow for expansion of the Constitution beyond the original document, in order to make the Constitution a “living document” adaptable to changing times.

The real threat is not what the federal courts have done in the past sixty years! It is the attempt of conservatives and the Republican Party to negate the great progress brought about the Supreme Court and lower courts in the past sixty years, and revert back to the years after World War II, when all of these great changes started slowly to evolve through courageous judges and Supreme Court Justices, including Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

57 Years Ago Today, The Most Significant Supreme Court Decision Of The 20th Century!

On this day in 1954, 57 years ago, the United States Supreme Court transformed America in a way never matched by any other decision of the entire 20th century!

The Court unanimously declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional in Brown V. Board Of Education Of Topeka, Kansas, a decision that ushered in the civil rights movement, not only in education, but in all areas of American society.

How far we have come, to the point that we have a black President, and have seen the successes of integration in American society to the point that there are many mixed race couples and children, and most Americans don’t even bat an eyelash at the changes that have come about.

Sure, there are still people in America who are racist, and that is true of all races. But the country is much better off for the courage of Chief Justice Earl Warren, who convinced the Justices of the Court of the absolute need for unanimity on the decision, and Associate Justice Hugo Black, who overcame his earlier Ku Klux Klan membership, to do the RIGHT THING!

It is hard to imagine a scenario whereby this decision had not come about, and to believe it possible that segregation would still be the law of the land.

This Brown decision is an example of the best that the Supreme Court has brought us in its 222 plus years of its history, and this is a moment to salute the Court and America for the wonderful event that occurred in 1954, and which we celebrate today!