Supreme Court

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.



CNN Reminds Us Of “The Endless Election” Tonight At 9 PM

CNN tonight will have an hour presentation, reminding us of the Presidential Election of 2000, entitled “The Endless Election”.

Many Americans, younger than college age students, have no real memory or knowledge of this transformative election, in which, for the fourth time in American history, the loser of the national popular vote won the Electoral College and the Presidency.

George W. Bush joined John Quincy Adams in the Presidential Election of 1824; Rutherford B. Hayes in the Presidential Election of 1876; and Benjamin Harrison in the Presidential Election of 1888, in that unique circumstance and quirk of the Electoral College system set up by the Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

Bush turned out be a major disaster in many ways, including the September 11, 2001 attacks; the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003; Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and the Great  Recession of 2008-2009.

No one is saying all of these tragedies would have been avoided with a President Al Gore, but most observers agree that Bush will rank in the bottom ten of all Presidents for the long run.

The idea that “hanging chads” in Florida would cause a 36 day election crisis, until the Supreme Court controversially intervened on a straight party line vote to grant Bush the win in Florida by 537 popular votes, still is upsetting to many, and one has to wonder how the Al Gore contribution to the Presidency would have changed history, and affected America long term!

Theodore Roosevelt’s 157th Birthday A Moment To Celebrate His Great Influence On American Political Reform!

Today marks the 157th anniversary of the birth of our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt.

TR was one of our greatest Presidents, usually ranked number four or or five on most scholarly lists of Presidents, seen as “Near Great” right behind the top three, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George Washington.

TR transformed the Presidency and started its modernization, and he believed the President could assert his authority over Congress and the courts, and use the news media to appeal to the American people, using his so called “Bully Pulpit”.

TR believed in the federal government intervening socially and economically, and he promoted new government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and labor reforms.

TR also supported political reforms, including the direct primary, limitation of Supreme Court terms, and the breaking of the two term tradition for the Presidency, when he ran for President on the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party line in 1912, four years after completing nearly two full terms as President as a Republican.

TR loved to call himself “Progressive”, and he promoted the Progressive Era with the power of his personality.

TR believed in the environment, and the protection of our natural resources through quadrupling of our national parks and forests, and worked to end corporate monopolies.

TR was a breath of “fresh air” in  the Presidency, which had declined in significance and quality of leadership from the time of Abraham Lincoln.  He believed in giving America a “Square Deal.”

TR has been attacked by many right wing conservatives in the Republican Party for “grabbing power”, but he had a dramatic effect on many future Presidents of both parties, setting a standard for Presidential power.

TR remains more controversial in foreign policy, where he made America a world power, but gained an image in Latin America and in Asia of being a “bully” and an imperialist, but even in that area of policy, despite controversy, it is clear that TR dramatically moved America toward its world role.

TR is also one of the most interesting personalities in the White House, a fascinating figure who has had a long range impact on the future of America, both domestically and foreign.

Controversy will remain, but TR will continue to be ranked as a Near Great President in the future!



Vice Presidents And The Presidency: Being Elected A Lost Cause!

With Vice President Joe Biden announcing he would not run for President, due to bad timing to announce caused by the family tragedy of the loss of his son Beau Biden in May, it adds to the reality that any Vice President has great odds against him if he wishes to use the Vice Presidency as a launching pad for the Presidency.

Only four Presidents have been able to run from the Vice Presidency for President and triumph, with all but one in the first 50 years of the Republic, as follows:

John Adams 1796

Thomas Jefferson 1800

Martin Van Buren 1836

The other President is George H. W. Bush in 1988.

Never until the 1940s and after did a sitting Vice President ever get considered at all for the Presidency, other than if he succeeded the President by natural death or assassination.

So we had Vice President John Nance Garner trying to win the 1940 Democratic Presidential nomination, but unfortunately for him, Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to seek a third term.

In 1948, former Vice President Henry Wallace in the third term of FDR tried for the Presidency as a third party candidate (Progressive Party), fighting against fourth FDR term Vice President Harry Truman, who had succeeded FDR upon his death in 1945.

Alben Barkley, Vice President under Truman in his full term, tried to win the 1952 Democratic Presidential nomination, but his age was used against him, which may have been good, since Barkely died during the next term when he would have been President.

Richard Nixon ran for President to succeed Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1960, but lost in a close election to John F.  Kennedy.  Of course, Nixon won eight years later, being the first Vice President elected since Martin Van Buren in 1836, but eight years after.

Hubert H. Humphrey ran for President in 1968 to succeed Lyndon B. Johnson, but was defeated by Nixon, and tried for the nomination again in 1972, but failed to be selected as the Presidential nominee.

Walter Mondale ran for President in 1984 after he and Jimmy Carter were defeated in 1980 for a second term, but lost to Ronald Reagan.

George H. W. Bush is the only exception to this reality, winning in 1988 after serving two terms as Vice President under Ronald Reagan.

Dan Quayle tried for the Republican nomination in 1996 after serving one term under George H. W. Bush, but flopped badly.

Al Gore ran for President in 2000 after two terms as Vice President under Bill Clinton, and of course won the popular vote, but lost the hotly contested electoral vote in Florida, with Supreme Court intervention, leading to the victory of his opponent George W. Bush.

Dick Cheney had tried briefly for the Presidency in 1996, but when he was Vice President under George W. Bush for two terms, his health was fragile and he chose not to try for the Presidency in 2008.

And now Joe Biden, after two terms as Vice President under Barack Obama, has reluctantly decided not to run for President in 2016, due to the tragic death of his son Beau in May, and the grieving period preventing organization of a Presidential campaign.

So the record shows, with the exception of Richard Nixon eight years later and George H. W. Bush, no Vice President has succeeded in modern times to the Presidency unless the President died in office, or with the case of Richard Nixon resigning, led to Gerald Ford succeeding him in the White House.

Reince Preibus Has It Right: The Republicans Are “Cooked” If They Do Not Win The White House In 2016!

The Republican National Chairman, Reince Preibus, said yesterday that the Republicans are “cooked”, if they do not win the White House in 2016, and for once, he is absolutely right!

The Presidency is the prize for a political party, and even with control of one or both houses of Congress, the party is stymied if it has an “unfriendly” Chief Executive.

The Republican Party is self destructing by allowing its extremist right wing Tea Party element to dictate its actions and principles, and they are proving how incompetent and useless they are with the worst record in American history of production during the 112th Congress (2011-2012), the 113th Congress (2013-2014),  and now the 114th Congress (2015-2016).

And its Presidential candidates are pitiful, and the party is allowing three people with ZERO government experience to be the front runners for the Presidency, all of whom would be absolutely horrible Chief Executives, and with Donald Trump and Dr. Benjamin Carson, in particular, a very scary scenario, as both seem to be mentally unbalanced with their behavior and utterances.

But the remaining office holder Republicans running for President, in most cases, are no better, stating ridiculous and outrageous ideas and beliefs, including such candidates as Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, and Bobby Jindal.

The clear cut reality is that the Republicans will NEVER win the White House again if they persist in their misogyny, racism, nativism, Islamophobia, and homophobia, along with consistent attacks on labor and the environment.  And if they lose the White House, they lose the ability to affect the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, and this means progressive appointments to the courts for the long term, transforming American history, and weakening conservatism for the long haul.

So Preibus is correct, the GOP is “cooked” if they lose the 2016 Presidential election, and most assuredly, they are on the road to such disaster!

Mike Huckabee The New Orval Faubus, Ross Barnett, And George Wallace!

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is rapidly becoming the new Orval Faubus, Ross Barnett, and George Wallace—a defiant Governor against the Supreme Court!

Faubus, Governor of Arkansas; Barnett, Governor Mississippi; and Wallace, Governor of Alabama—all vehemently opposed the Supreme Court decision on school integration of 1954 (Brown V. Board of Education), and refused to cooperate with integration, respectively, of the Little Rock, Arkansas high school; the University of Mississippi; and the University of Alabama—and mounted confrontations with the federal government, leading to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy to send the National Guard into those states to enforce the edicts of the federal courts.

None of those three Governors look well in American history, rather are seen as law breakers and demagogues, for opposing the Supreme Court decision.

Now Mike Huckabee stands out as a religious fanatic, a man who does not understand separation of church and state, and as a bigot in his attitude toward gays and lesbians.

His idea that the Supreme Court in Obergefell V Hodges is acting in a lawless manner is totally preposterous, but notice he does not oppose the Court when it comes up with a decision that he agrees with, which demonstrates his total hypocrisy, and his own phoniness about the teachings of Jesus, who never referred to gays and marriage in the Old or New Testament.

Huckabee has become a right wing theocratic demagogue, who seems to think taking such a stand will advance his Republican Presidential candidacy, but even Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was against the majority opinion on gay marriage, says that no county clerk, such as Kim Davis, can use religious views to avoid her responsibility to do her job, as working for government is a civil job.

So either Kim Davis does  her job without discrimination, or she needs to be forced out of office, or thrown in prison until she agrees to obey the federal courts, which DO have the final say on all constitutional matters.

Marriage is not something to be voted on, but rather a basic human right, and prejudice and bias and homophobia must not be allowed to interfere with the right of two adults to marry!

Criminalization Of Christianity And Kim Davis? Hardly!

A federal court judge appointed by George W. Bush has ordered County Clerk Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky to jail for failing to issue marriage licenses to anyone in her county, due to her “religious” beliefs that do not “allow” her to permit marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.

Kim Davis is a hypocrite, who has been married four times, divorced three times, and had twins with someone not her husband at the time, and then, suddenly, she became “religious”, and therefore, will not fulfill her job duties to which she was elected.

It is not as if she can be summarily fired, as she was elected by the voters last November, but she can be required to do her duties as a public official, or be told to resign, or else, someone else should fulfill her duties on marriage licenses in her stead.

If this is allowed to fester, other county clerks in Kentucky, Alabama, and Texas, and other states can use the excuse to disobey the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage,  or really, we can start having government officials refuse to obey federal law on other matters as well!

The Civil War is long over, and states must obey federal law, whether they like it or not, just as those opposed to Citizens United or the Voting Rights Act  or other conservative decisions have the option of trying for a constitutional amendment if they do not wish to accept the Court decision.

We are a nation of laws and the Constitution, and the Supreme Court, right or wrong, is the final arbiter, as we are not a nation governed by the beliefs of any religious group, and no such group should be allowed to dictate what they will obey when it comes to law.

The concept of criminalization of Christianity is totally baseless, and no one should take it seriously, as there is no persecution of Christians, although there is persecution of Muslims, in some areas Jews, and certainly of Atheists and Agnostics!

We are a nation of many different Christian groups with a variety of doctrines, but we are not a “Christian” nation, a theocracy, and no religion can be allowed to control public policy!

The Die Is Cast! Hillary Clinton Is A Flawed Candidate Who Can No Longer Be Assured The Presidency, And The Democrats’ Hold On White House Is Now Endangered!

After Hillary Clinton’s contentious press conference a few days ago, regarding the Email controversy,  and with time to reflect on the situation, one thing is very clear.

Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate who will face problems winning  the Presidency, and the Democrats’ hold on the White House is now endangered!  This is the danger of “putting all your eggs in one basket”!

This comes at a time when rumor has it that Vice President Joe Biden has, supposedly, decided not to run for President.

If that is so, then, as things now stand, the Democrats are left with the likelihood that Bernie Sanders, who has always proudly declared that he is a Socialist, is their front runner, with what seems like little chance that Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, or Jim Webb could overtake him and become competitive.

And it seems that anyone else, such as former Vice President Al Gore or Secretary of State John Kerry, both past Democratic Presidential candidates, from 16 and 12 years ago, are unlikely to run, and in any case, would be long shots for the Presidency at this point.

This would be the time for a “new generation” of leadership to rise, with Martin O’Malley, the former Governor of Maryland, to be that individual—the new John F. Kennedy, or Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama—but that seems highly unlikely to occur.

It seems clear that the dream of having the first woman President, and it being Bill Clinton’s wife, long believed to be a fait accompli, is not going to happen, and if it somehow does anyway, that it would be a highly flawed Presidency.

Hillary Clinton seems to many neutral observers, and even some Democrats, to be a “Nixonian” kind of personality, surrounding herself with “yes” advisers, who are unwilling all along to tell her that the appearance of impropriety and lack of ethics is clear cut.

Hillary Clinton has so messed up her campaign by her behavior and actions as Secretary of State, and lame attempts to “cover it up”, that her candidacy is one of damage control, rather than being able to advance ideas and programs.

Hillary Clinton is very intelligent and capable, but she is, sadly, going to have a campaign dominated by the Email controversy, and the implication, which may be untrue,  that she has lied, deceived, and manipulated the truth about her activities.

Her behavior and actions now endanger the ability of the Democrats to retain control of the Presidency.  If one looks at the Electoral College situation, it should have been easy for the Democrats to win the White House, but now everything is unsettled, including the possible effect of the Donald Trump candidacy.

If the Democrats lose the White House, then the Republicans would have the ability to put the Obama Presidency’s accomplishments and advances in domestic and foreign policy into reverse, a true tragedy for the nation.

It would also endanger much of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It would probably mean a permanent, long term, right wing swing of the Supreme Court, affecting the next generation and more of legal and constitutional interpretation.

If the Democrats lose, Hillary Clinton will be blamed for the demise of what should have been an easy victory for the Democrats, but more importantly, the nation would suffer from a totally different approach to labor, the environment, women’s issues, race, immigration, science, and so much more.

So now, if not ever before, it is essential that the move of many to say “Run, Joe, Run”–to pressure Vice President Joe Biden to run—is now not just what Biden supporters wish to occur, but an absolute demand that he MUST run to save the Democratic Party and the American people from a right wing future in our government!

A One Term Presidency For Candidates Nearing 70 Or Over?

With the growing likelihood that we could have two candidates, or even three candidates for the Presidency nearing or over 70, in the Presidential Election of 2016, an argument can be made that we should expect that such candidates agree to a one term Presidency if they win.

One might say why should any Presidential candidate forgo the possibility of a second term, which effectively, would make such a candidate a “lame duck” President?

However, the argument could also be that in the first term of a President, he or she must spend inordinate amounts of time campaigning and strategizing for reelection, when he or she should be focusing on doing what he or she thinks is right and proper for the nation.

Most second term Presidents have great difficulty accomplishing much, as historically, most Presidents have accomplished much more in their first term than their second term.

With older Presidents, the odds of him or her dying in office magnifies, and makes the choice of the Vice Presidential nominee ever more important, as it can be expected that such a Vice President being elevated to the White House is much greater than normal.

It would be a good idea to suggest that a one term pledge might be in order, as the experience of Ronald Reagan, clearly declining in his second term health wise, was a silent crisis in the 1980s, a very worrisome situation.

One might say why is it different for a President than a member of Congress or a Justice on the Supreme Court?  And the answer is that the responsibilities, the burden, the pressures, are far greater on the occupant of the White House than anyone else has.

Most Americans are retired, and at the most working part time, in their 70s, so having a one term limit on Presidents over or near 70 when elected, seems a legitimate alternative!

Memory Of The Two Assassination Attempts Against Gerald Ford In September 1975

Today is the 41st anniversary of Gerald Ford becoming President, upon the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Ford’s historical reputation has risen as the years have gone by, with the major contribution he made, besides restoring faith and stability in the American Presidency, being his brilliant appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, who served on Court from 1975 to 2010, and lives on today in retirement at age 95.

But also part of the Ford story was the reality of his facing two assassination attempts by women within 17 days in September 1975—Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme on September 5, 1975; and then 17 days later by Sara Jane Moore on September 22, 1975.

The details of these two assassination attempts comprise Chapter 13 of my forthcoming book–“Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama”, Rowman Littlefield Publishers, to be released this coming Saturday, August 15.

A 30 percent discount offer from the publisher, Rowman Littlefield, is available on this website, using the code 4M15ATAP, and the book will ship after August 15.