Sandra Day O’Connor

The End Of The Supreme Court Term: Any Retirements Coming?

This is the last week of the present Supreme Court session, and Court watchers are wondering if we are about to see a sharp swing to the Right, with the potential retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan nearly 30 years ago, and a crucial swing vote ever since on the Court.

Kennedy has been on the conservative side about two thirds of the time, and on the liberal side one third of the time, and without him, for instance, there would have been no advancements on gay rights and gay marriage, as he was the crucial fifth vote.

His vote this week may decide whether the Muslim ban of Donald Trump is upheld, or prevented, as it has been by several circuit courts around the nation.

Kennedy has been the unpredictable vote all by himself in the past decade, since Sandra Day O’Connor left the court at the end of 2005.

For a decade before 2005, it was said the Court was the “O’Connor-Kennedy Court”, and now for the past 12 years, it has been the “Kennedy” Court, more than the Roberts Court, as traditionally, the Court is described by the name of its Chief Justice.

Since Kennedy will be turning 81 in one month, and is the second oldest member of the Court, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 84, but has made clear she is going nowhere, and hopes to stay on the Court until 2021, so that hopefully a future Democratic President in 2021 can choose her successor.

So if Kennedy does retire this week, it will mark a sharp move to the Right, which will undermine constitutional law for the next generation!

Neil Gorsuch On Supreme Court A Fateful Turn To The Right, Unless He Surprises, As Other Republican Appointments In Past Have Done

Seven Republican appointments to the Supreme Court since 1953 turned out to be less conservative than expected, so the question that arises, as Neil Gorsuch, appointed by Donald Trump, becomes the 113th Supreme Court Justice in American history is, will Gorsuch follow that lead?

At this point, it seems highly unlikely, but there is no way to know how a person on the Court, who potentially could be there for 35 years, until 2052, will react as cases come before him. If he has an open mind, he could surprise us, as history records for appointees of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush prove.

Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan, appointments of Eisenhower, thought to be conservatives, turned out to be path breaking liberals on the Court.

Associate Justice Harry Blackmun, appointed by Nixon, proved to be the same, as did John Paul Stevens, appointed by Ford.

Associate Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, chosen by Reagan, proved to be the swing vote,often siding with the liberal side of the Court, despite their generally conservative bent.

And David Souter, appointed by the first Bush, also proved to be a surprise on his vote much of the time.

So we will see over the next few years if Neil Gorsuch surprises.

The Evolution Of Women In American Politics: 1916-2016 And Beyond!

In 1916, exactly a century ago, the first woman, a Republican, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, was elected to the House of Representatives.

In 1932, Hattie Caraway of Arkansas, a Democrat, became the first woman to be elected to the United States Senate.

In 1933, Frances Perkins of New York, a Democrat, became the first woman to be a member of the President’s cabinet, Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1964, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, a Republican, became the first woman to run for President.

In 1972, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm of New York, a Democrat, became the first black woman to run for President.

In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor of Arizona, a Republican, became the first woman appointed to the US Supreme Court.

In 1984, Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro of New York, a Democrat, became the first woman Vice Presidential nominee of a major party.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman chosen as the Presidential nominee of a major party, and will become the first woman elected President in the next 24 hours!

And the fight for women’s right to vote began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention, and only in 1920, did women gain the right to vote by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

So Hillary Clinton will be our president when the centennial of women suffrage comes about in 2020!

And this all began with Susan B. Anthony, arrested for trying to vote in 1872!

Barack Obama’s Supreme Court Solution: Choose Former Republican Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor On One Year Term!

The Republican majority in the US Senate have made clear that they will not hold hearings, or in any fashion, consider the nomination of anyone selected by President Barack Obama to replace Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, leaving the membership at eight for over 400 days, until a new President has been inaugurated and chosen a successor.

There is not much that can be done about this in reality, except that it should convince those who support the Democrats to come out in droves and insure that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is elected President.

It is, certainly, another issue in the campaign for the national elections, and since Republicans are split around Donald Trump, it gives an advantage to the Democrats, if only they can convince voters not to sit home, when either Hillary or Bernie lose the Presidential nomination to the other over the next few months.

But Barack Obama could put the Republicans in a box if he were to nominate a former member of the Supreme Court, chosen by Ronald Reagan, to return to her seat which she gave up ten years ago, not because of her own health, but because her husband had Alzeheimers, and she wanted to take care of him.

Were it not for that, O’Connor, with 25 years on the Court, could be close to the all time record of service of Justice William O. Douglas, who served 36 years from 1939-1975.  Her age is not an issue, as Justice John Paul Stevens was on the Court until age 90 and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes a few months older but still age 90.

Yes, O’Connor will be 86, but she would be capable of serving for a year, and her record shows she would be a balancing influence, much like Justice Anthony Kennedy, not a certainty to vote with conservatives or with liberals on the Court.

This way, she would be able to help the Court do its work, serve her country, and leave after a new President made his or her appointment shortly after inauguration.

One can be sure that O’Connor would do her duty for her country, as she is highly honored already.  And Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes came back to the Court as Chief Justice 14 years after leaving the Court in 1916.

So the best solution is for Obama to request that O’Connor agree to return, and it will put the Republicans in an awkward situation if they refuse to allow it!

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.

Anthony Kennedy, The Third Choice Of Ronald Reagan For The Supreme Court In 1988!

President Ronald Reagan had the misfortune of having two Supreme Court nominees rejected near the end of his term, and forced to choose someone else for the Court.

His nomination of Robert Bork, and then, Douglas Ginsburg, and his selection of Anthony Kennedy in their place in 1988, was a moment of tremendous historical importance.

With either Bork or Ginsburg, it is almost certain, if not so, that gay rights and gay marriage would not have accomplishes the majority votes in 2003, 2013, and now 2015, granting gays and lesbians complete equality, including the right to marry!

The importance of one man and one vote is clear cut, as under our system, the Supreme Court, much more than we realize, has a majority of one vote on significant cases, and that one vote majority transforms America for good or for evil.

One vote on the Court decided Bush V Gore in 2000; one vote on the Court decided the Citizens United Case in 2010; one vote on the Supreme Court decided the dramatic weakening of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

And the historic importance of Anthony Kennedy cannot be underestimated, as he has been the swing vote on the Court since Sandra Day O’Connor left the court ten years ago. Often, he has sided with the conservatives, but about one third of the time with progressives, as in these various gay rights cases.

Kennedy has had great courage, and he will suffer mightily with denunciations, death threats, and need for Secret Service protection, from right wing crazies who will wish him dead for his role in changing American society permanently.

Anthony Kennedy is truly a profile in courage and principle, and will play a positive role in the history of human rights, when this era we are living in, is written about in future generations!

Republican Presidents And Ten Exceptional Supreme Court Appointments Since 1900!

Republican Presidents have contributed many outstanding Supreme Court Justice from the time of Theodore Roosevelt through the Presidency of George H. W. Bush, from 1902 through 1990.

Ten Justices can be seen as having a very positive impact on the Court, often surprising the Republican Presidents who appointed them, as many could have been appointed by Democratic Presidents in retrospect!

These Justices include:

Oliver Wendell Holmes, appointed by Theodore Roosevelt, and serving from 1902-1932.

Harlan Fiske Stone, appointed by Calvin Coolidge, and serving as Associate Justice from 1925-1941, and then elevated to Chief Justice by Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1941-1946.

Charles Evans Hughes, originally appointed by William Howard Taft, and serving as Associate Justice from 1910-1916, resigning to run as the Republican Presidential nominee in 1916, and then, reappointed, now as Chief Justice by Herbert Hoover, and serving from 1930-1941.

Benjamin Cardozo, appointed by Herbert Hoover, and serving from 1932-1938.

Earl Warren, appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, and serving as Chief Justice from 1953-1969.

William Brennan, appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, and serving from 1956-1990.

Harry Blackmun, appointed by Richard Nixon, and serving from 1970-1994.

John Paul Stevens, appointed by Gerald Ford, and serving from 1975-2010.

Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and serving from 1981-2006.

David Souter, appointed by George H. W. Bush, and serving from 1990-2009.

Any scholarly listing of great Supreme Court Justices would certainly list Holmes, Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, and possibly Stevens in the top ten Supreme Court Justices of all time, a total of 112 Justices in the history of the Supreme Court up to now. And Stone, Hughes, Cardozo, O’Connor, and Souter would all rank in the next ten, making this list part of the top 20 out of the entire list. And Stone, Hughes and Warren served as Chief Justices, arguably the three best Chief Justices, following the greatest Chief Justice of all time, Chief Justice John Marshall (1801-1835)!

All of this above list, except Cardozo, served for a long time, from a low of 16 years for Warren, up to 35 for Stevens, and even Cardozo is rated as being an outstanding Justice, despite his short period on the Court.

So the Republican Party and Presidents, often by misjudgment or error, selected many of the greatest Supreme Court Justices in its history in the 20th century!

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!

The Dangers Of The Supreme Court Run Amuck In Favor Of Wealthy And Corporations!

The Supreme Court is totally out of control, with its new decision on having no limits on campaign spending by wealthy donors, added on to the Citizens United Case of 2010, and the limitation of voting rights in a 2013 decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts has solidified a five member GOP majority to destroy all attempts to prevent corporate and wealthy people from controlling the political system, an effort pursued from the time of Theodore Roosevelt a century ago through Senator John McCain and Senator Russ Feingold in the 1990s and early 2000s.

That is all for naught now, and shows the dangers of a runaway, reckless, right wing radical Court!

This is what made Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Barack Obama criticize Court power, along with progressive reformers including Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, Senator George Norris of Nebraska, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont!

This is the result of 13 Supreme Court nominees since 1960 by Republican Presidents, to only 8 by Democrats, and with two of those Democratic appointments (Arthur Goldberg by John F. Kennedy and Abe Fortas by Lyndon B. Johnson), only lasting three and four years respectively.

Of course, Republican appointments of Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush, turned out to be major surprises in their rulings, but we also ended up with some of the most reactionary and right wing radical appointments in all of American history with the appointments of William Rehnquist by Richard Nixon and the elevation of Rehnquist to Chief Justice by Ronald Reagan; Lewis Powell by Richard Nixon; Antonin Scalia by Ronald Reagan; Clarence Thomas by George H. W. Bush; and Samuel Alito by George W. Bush. The appointments of Chief Justice Warren Burger by Richard Nixon; Anthony Kennedy by Ronald Reagan; and Chief Justice John Roberts by George W. Bush, have been more of a mixed bag, sometimes good, and sometimes horrible in its effect on constitutional law!

Meanwhile, John F. Kennedy selected a mostly conservative Justice Byron White; Lyndon B Johnson selected Thurgood Marshall; Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama selected Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, but sadly, their influence in the last four of the five names listed, has been mostly in being the opposition, sometimes vehement in nature!

The effect on the future of American democracy is massive, with this right wing Court majority, and the only hope is the eventual retirement of Scalia and Kennedy, and hopefully, continuation of a Democratic Senate and President for the rest of the decade, so that the Court changes direction in the future!

Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A True National Treasure!

Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed by President Bill Clinton 20 years ago, has suffered two serious bouts with cancer, and has lost her husband, but she continues to plug on at age 80, with no plans for retirement.

Since other Supreme Court Justices have stayed on in their 80s, it is not all that surprising that Ginsburg refuses to consider retirement.

Always very friendly and accessible, unusual in the history of the Supreme Court membership, Ginsburg has become more openly outspoken over the years, being the true champion of the progressive side of the Court, and critical in a gentle way of her conservative colleagues, while expressing respect for them as individuals.

And she set new ground by marrying two gay men in the past week, one of them being the President of the Kennedy Center, and the other a well known economist. And she also has spoken out now on the Constitution as the promoter of equal rights for all—race, gender, and sexual orientation—even though it might take a long time, many generations, for the promotion of equality to become the norm, in the story of American history!

Ginsburg is an inspiration to all who believe in equality, justice, decency, and fairness, and a great symbol to women, as to what they can attain, as she is the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, after Sandra Day O’Connor.

It is certainly clear that Ginsburg, O’Connor, and the only other two women appointed to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan have all contributed to the humanization of the Court, and advocated an open minded attitude, which will have a long range effect on Constitutional law!

Applause and commending of the role and significance of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is certainly in order!