Chief Justice

President William Howard Taft’s Massive Impact On Supreme Court History!

President William Howard Taft, our 27th President, never gets a fair shake in history, due to the misfortune of being in office between two charismatic Presidents,Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and facing both in the Presidential Election of 1912, and ending up third, the only time a major party Presidential candidate ended up other than first or second in an election.

Taft may have had the worst re-election defeat in American history, winning only two states and 8 electoral votes in 1912, but despite that, Taft goes down in history as, in many ways, the most influential President on the matter of the Supreme Court, other than Franklin D. Roosevelt.

How is that, one might ask?

Well, Taft set a record of making the most appointments in one term ever in American history, as SIX vacancies opened up on the Court, including Chief Justice Edward Douglass White and Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes having the most impact. Also, strong conservative Willis Van Devanter served 26 years on the Court, working against FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s.

Only George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt surpassed him in appointments, and Andrew Jackson matched him.

Since Taft served as Chief Justice by appointment of President Warren G. Harding after 1921 until 1930, he both picked his predecessor, and was followed as Chief Justice by Hughes, who was appointed by President Herbert Hoover as his replacement, with Hughes having resigned from the Court to run against Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

Additionally, Taft was the Chief Justice who did the lobbying that led to plans for a separate Supreme Court Building, although he died in 1930, never seeing the Court building completed and opened in 1935.

So William Howard Taft had a vast impact on the history of the Supreme Court!

Will Chief Justice John Roberts Be In The Tradition Of John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes, And Earl Warren? The Question For The Long Term Future

Chief Justice John Roberts made history in a way that he had to realize would happen, when he broke with the conservative wing of the Court, shocking conservatives and cheering liberals and progressives on the Affordable Care Act, known to its critics as “ObamaCare”.

The question is whether this is a one time aberration, or a beginning of a reconsideration of the philosophy that will govern the future decisions of Chief Justice Roberts.

Has Roberts had an “epiphany”, or did he do this for his own reputation and that of the Court as an institution?

Is Roberts ready to continue to antagonize Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, two of whom will be likely staying on the Supreme Court for a long period of years, maybe as long as he will?

Does Roberts have a sense of history, and wants to be leagued with other great Chief Justices?

Certainly, seeing the harsh, bitter reaction of many conservative talk show hosts, Republicans and others of the right wing in our politics, might give Roberts pause, and possibly make him reluctant to go against the tide again.

A sign that he will not give in to the attacks would be to push another Citizens United case to be considered by the Court, and this time, to take the proper side for the people of America against the corporations and their power, but who can say that will happen?

In any case, Roberts at least has the potential, if he has the courage and principles to do so, to go down in history as in the tradition of Chief Justices John Marshall (1801-1835), Charles Evans Hughes (1930-1941), and Earl Warren (1953-1969)!

He also has the potential to go down as an “also ran’! It is all up to him, and him alone!

Tension Between Chief Justice John Roberts And Conservative Justices On Supreme Court Reported: What It Might Mean!

In an extremely rare inside look at the Supreme Court, which tends to keep secret the interactions of its members, there are strong indications that the decision of Chief Justice John Roberts to side with the liberals on the Court and uphold “ObamaCare” may have caused what might be a permanent rift on the Court between Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

No one is likely to ever confirm such a rift explicitly, but it will be very interesting to observe the body language of the Court in oral arguments, decision announcement days, and other public meetings where the members of the Court will be together in public places.

One could wish that he or she was a “fly on the wall” figuratively, to see what has really gone on, and will occur, in the future.

The situation could transform the Court IF Roberts continues to side with the liberals, but few expect that to happen. But the old warmth and respect for each other that the Court is famous for in most of its past may be done, nevertheless.

It also makes one wonder, particularly IF Roberts continues the course he is on at the moment, whether it will convince Antonin Scalia to quit the Court, at age 76 and counting, and may be determined by who is elected President in November.

It is hard to imagine Scalia leaving, or even Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, if Barack Obama is elected to a second term, but if Romney is elected, it is conceivable that both might leave sooner rather than later, if either or both feel uncomfortable working with Roberts in the future.

One can forget about Clarence Thomas or Samuel Alito leaving, however, as neither would plan to leave anytime soon!

What Might Have Been: Chief Justice Samuel Alito!

In Jully 2005, shortly after Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement, President George W. Bush announced John Roberts as his choice as her replacement on the Supreme Court.

The hearings were scheduled for early September, but two days before the hearings began, Chief Justice William Rehnquist died, and overnight, Bush decided to switch Roberts to be the appointee for Chief Justice, and later selected Samuel Alito to replace O’Connor!

The course of history was changed dramatically by this, ever more so now after Chief Justice Roberts authored the majority opinion on the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare!

Samuel Alito has proved to be a right wing extremist on the Supreme Court, joining with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and often called “Scalito” by critics. He also is the Justice who mouthed “not true” after the CItizens United Case decision, when President Obama, in the State of the Union speech a few days later, openly criticized that decision to the faces of the Supreme Court, while the other Justices, including Roberts, sat stone faced, which was the professional way to behave, but not for Alito!

The leader of the Court knows the Court is in his name, and that he must think of history, and Chief Justice Roberts knows that well, and has shown his statesmanship on this health care case, realizing no major decision of the Court since 1937 has repudiated a major social reform law passed by Congress.

Justice Alito is NOT a statesman, far from it, and rather is in many ways a disgrace–a narrow minded, hostile, nasty representative of the agenda of the Far Right, who if he had any ethics, would resign from the Court, but preceded by Scalia and Thomas, the two worst Justices of the past half century on the Court!