Judicial Appointments

Many Presidents Have Made Court Appointments In Last Year Of Term Or Presidency

The Republican Party is making the preposterous argument that a President, in his last year in office, should not be able to make an appointment to the Supreme Court, when history tells us otherwise.

Just because a President is finishing his time in office does not mean that he has no authority to do his job, which includes appointing judges and Justices!

And what about Presidents running for reelection, with the possibility that he might not be reelected?  Does that mean every President in the last year of any Presidential term should lose his powers to make appointments to the federal judiciary?

History tells us otherwise as witness the following:

George Washington 1796 –two appointments

Thomas Jefferson 1804–one appointment

Andrew Jackson 1836–two appointments, including Chief Justice Roger Taney, who remained on the Court for 28 years

Grover Cleveland 1888–two appointments, including Chief Justice Melville Fuller, who remained on the Court for 22 years

Benjamin Harrison 1892–one appointment

William Howard Taft 1912–one appointment

Woodrow Wilson 1916—two appointments, including the controversial, longest battle, to put Louis Brandeis on the Supreme Court

Herbert Hoover 1932–one appointment (Benjamin Cardozo)

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1940–one appointment  (Frank Murphy)

Ronald Reagan 1988–one appointment (Anthony Kennedy)

Additionally, Presidents have made appointments to the federal district and circuit courts when in the last year in office (Reagan 26 and 7; Clinton 37 and 9; Bush II 26 and 6; Obama 4 and 4).

And from 1947 to 2014, 416 District Court and 79 Circuit Court appointments have been made in Presidential election years.

So the Republican Party has no case for why Barack Obama should not be able to make an appointment, other than that they do not want a liberal replacing a conservative, and bringing the end of the 44 year conservative and Republican dominance on the Court.

But the answer to that is to stop being a crybaby and accept that your reign of dominance is coming to an end, and not too soon.

It is time to move into the 21st century of constitutional law, rather than dwell in the 19th century Gilded Age mentality of the conservatives on the Supreme Court!

 

 

Barack Obama Since The Midterm Defeat: Finally Asserting His Executive Powers, A La TR, FDR And Other Outstanding Presidents!

Since the defeat of the Democrats in the Midterm Elections of 2014, Barack Obama has changed his whole manner and approach to governing.

Obama is now asserting himself, via his executive powers, a la Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and other outstanding Presidents.

In less than two months, Obama has done the following, all significant initiatives:

Declared his support for internet neutrality, meaning federal regulation of the internet.

Reached a momentous climate deal with China, to reduce greenhouse gases.

Issued an executive order protecting up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, and protecting families from being broken apart.

Established regulations through the Environmental Protection Agency to limit ozone emissions.

Promoted new sanctions on Russia and Vladamir Putin for their intervention in Ukraine, crippling the Russian economy in a massive way.

Accomplished the confirmation of over 90 nominees to executive branch and judicial branch appointments, including the Surgeon General, held off for almost a year.

Normalized relations with Cuba, with the help of Canada and Pope Francis, and the support of some Republicans, including Jeff Flake of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

To have accomplished so much in such a short time, despite his party’s defeat in November, makes Barack Obama well situated to make his mark in the last two years, free of any controls, other than the Constitution and the precedents set by his predecessors in the White House!

President Obama Not Acting Like A “Lame Duck”!

Barack Obama could be said to have suffered a defeat in the midterm elections, when his Democratic party lost control of the US Senate, and the House of Representatives majority became the largest since 1929 for the Republican Party.

And yet, Obama has been on a “tear” since, and it is clear that he is NOT acting like a “lame duck”, and will work to accomplish as many goals as he can, with or without cooperation of the GOP majority in Congress.

Obviously, Obama cannot pass legislation on his own, but he can veto legislation, and prevent destructive behavior by the Republican majority.

So new House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin can wish to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but Obama will be able to prevent much, if any damage, to these signature programs promoted into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Obama has been able to get judicial appointments approved by the outgoing Democratic Senate majority, and those judges have lifetime tenure.

Obama can, legally, by executive order, promote many changes that do not need Congressional approval, and every President has utilized this power to bring about changes, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but the issue of the authority to use executive orders is a clear cut one!

So Barack Obama still has two years to bring historic change, and he is now liberated to do what he wishes to do that is allowable under our Constitution and history, and he no longer needs to be cautious, but instead can become aggressive and outspoken, knowing that even if he was to be impeached and brought to trial by the Republican Congress, that he is untouchable, as there is no way to gain a two thirds majority in the US Senate to remove him.

Instead, he has the opportunity to make his Presidency more transformative and historic at a time when so much of what he has already done is bearing fruit!

Presidents In Last Two Years In Office: Tradition Of Opposition Congress And Little Legislation Accomplished!

When one looks back at the past century of Presidential history, it is clear that it is common for the President to have to deal with an opposition Congress in the last two years of his tenure, and in two cases, a divided Congress in the last two years in the White House.

This, of course, means little can be accomplished, other than by judicial appointments, and by executive orders, as significant legislation is unlikely.

Look at the list of Presidents who dealt with opposition Congresses in their last two years:

Woodrow Wilson–1919-1920
Dwight D. Eisenhower–1959-1960
Richard Nixon–1973-1974
Gerald Ford–1975-1976
Ronald Reagan–1987-1988
George H. W. Bush–1991-1992
Bill Clinton 1999-2000
George W. Bush–2007-2008
Barack Obama–2015-2016

Add to this list two Presidents who had a divided Congress in their last two years:

William Howard Taft–1911-1912–Democratic House and Republican Senate
Herbert Hoover–1931-1932–Democratic House and Republican Senate

So if all the Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama are counted, it means ELEVEN Presidents faced a Congress unfriendly to them in the last two years of office, with only TR, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter having “friendly” Congresses in their last two years, with Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy in office too short a term to qualify, since they died in office, unlike Gerald Ford, who actually completed a short term.

So 11 of 17 Presidents, two thirds of the total, have had to deal with the reality of the decline of their ability to control events, other than judicial appointments and executive orders!

What If The US Senate Goes Republican In 2014? What Would Be The Effects?

The battle for the majority control of the US Senate is in full swing, with the Republicans needing to pick up six seats in order to gain control in the MIdterm Elections of 2014.

The odds are seen as good, IF the establishment Republicans coming up for reelection are able to hold off the Tea Party challengers they face in primaries.

The Democrats are on the defensive, since about two thirds of the seats up in 2014 are Democratic, and particularly in the South, the small number of Senate Democrats from that section are under assault.

This blogger will examine the Senate races over time, but right now, the key issue is the effect IF the Senate goes Republican.

The likely scenario would be the following:

The Senate would work against any immigration reform.

The Senate would block any attempt at any gun regulation

The Senate would be likely to attempt a block of any Supreme Court nominees of President Obama, and probably battle more than ever over any judicial appointments at the lower levels of the courts, along with clear opposition to Presidential appointments to the cabinet or other key positions.

The Senate would probably help to encourage a Republican House of Representatives to draw up charges of impeachment against President Obama, but would be unable to gain a two thirds vote in the chamber, to convict and remove him from office.

Senate attempts to override Presidential vetoes would become more common, but the President would continue to have the advantage in that regard, as gaining a two thirds override is highly unlikely.

Overall, more gridlock and stalemate would occur, and more disillusionment with our national government would grow, and cause a likely return to Democratic control of the Senate in 2016, when Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic nominee wins the White House!