Your Chance to Change the Supreme Court?

Americans are likely paying more attention to the economy than the Supreme Court, but they should be thinking about presidential court appointments and the effect the next election is going to have on the make-up of the court. Of course, there is no guarantee that the next President will get to appoint a justice to the bench, but the possibility certainly exists. The effect on the court could change the way we live our lives as well as the guns we can own.

Today, very few Americans are single-issue voters—although one issue likely stands out over the rest for most. Whether that issue is same-sex marriage, affirmative action, voting rights, or (if you believe as I do) the Second Amendment—all have very different ideological components, and the more conservative justices definitely have a different view from the liberal justices.

Presidents and the court are an unusual dynamic: the Supreme Court traditionally rates near the bottom on a voters’ radar, but the high-profile issues the justices decide—hot-button topics, such as to whom the Second Amendment applies and the definition of militia, remain of constant concern to the electorate.

The Current Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg who turns 80 in 2013, making her the oldest current member of the court has suffered previous health problems. Nonetheless, she has publicly stated her desire to stay on the court for a few more years if possible. If Obama is re-elected and Ginsburg was to leave the court, not much would change. Obama would nominate another liberal-minded judge. On the other hand, if Ginsburg left the court in the next four years (under a Romney administration) the effect could be a major shift toward conservative ideology, taking the mix from 5-4 to 6-3.

The High Court could shift the other direction as well. Conservative justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, both 76, and their nominated replacements would be more closely scrutinized and debated, especially if Obama were to be the one making one or both choices.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal, turned 74 last August. Justice Clarence Thomas is 64 and Alito is 62, while Roberts, Sotomayor and Kagan are all still in their 50s.

After four court vacancies from 2005 to 2010 brought on Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, the High Court is poised to maintain a period of bench stability for at least a couple more years—barring an unexpected illness or personal crisis. This is significant, but not a guarantee and an unexpected vacancy could have widespread implications.

To what degree a president can predict a justice’s position is debatable. Justices simply don’t always turn out the way presidents might hope. President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously claimed his appointment of Chief Justice Earl Warren “was the biggest damn fool thing I ever did.”

The Obama Record

Obama championed his successful nominations of Sotomayor and Kagan, saying these justices fit his overall philosophy of what a good judge should be. He has been heavily criticized in the past for using “empathy” as a key criterion to nominate judges.

I believe this criticism is why Obama has become silent about it on the campaign trail. Ultimately, the ‘empathy’ standard turns the court more in the direction of identity politics than judicial constitutional review.

Is that what Americans want? No. We don’t want judges to vote their interest group. We want judges who are going to vote with the Constitution: the correct legal and constitutional interpretation.

Romney’s Philosophy

Romney stated, that if elected he would nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice [John] Roberts. When nominated, Roberts was labeled as a strict constitutionalist and a conservative. However, in writing for the majority on the Affordable Care Act ruling (ObamaCare), Roberts seemed to have injected political considerations with his admonition that the nation’s elective leaders “can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them.” It is indeed better that elections, not judges, determine the course and fate of the Republic.

You will have that opportunity on November 6th — VOTE!

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (2)

  1. There is only one true meaning in the Constituion. Liberals attempt to “interpret” it. Read the papers the founders wrote and you will see they meant what they wrote, not what liberal lawyers try to twist it to so it fits their worldview. It is in black and white. There are no shades of gray. For example, the commerce clause has been so abused by the congress they can now make us buy insurance and fine us if we dont. Now there THREE things that are assured in life: DEATH, TAXES and HEALTHCARE.

  2. The current Supreme Court is, by a number of measures, the most conservative in decades. Under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative majority on the Court has struck down hard-won clean elections laws, made it more difficult for women to sue for equal pay, squashed class action suits, and consistently favored large corporations over individual citizens seeking justice.
    Romney embraces judicial extremism, the new conservative judicial activism and has promised to bring the Court even further to the right if he is elected president.

    Issues most likely to be impacted by a more conservative Court include congressional authority to solve national economic problems, judicial integrity, criminal justice, voting rights, the separation of church and state, reproductive rights, equality issues, privacy rights, national security, to name a few. In particular:

    A more conservative Supreme Court could be open to pre-New Deal interpretations of the Commerce Clause, which would dramatically restrict Congress’ ability to confront national problems.
    A more conservative Supreme Court might permit corporations to attempt to influence judicial decisions that could impact their bottom line.
    A more conservative Supreme Court is likely to dramatically restrict efforts by Congress to remedy past discrimination in voting and elsewhere.
    A more conservative Supreme Court might also limit (or eliminate) the privacy rights of adults.
    A more conservative Supreme Court could uphold onerous restrictions on a woman’s right to choose and otherwise limit her reproductive freedom – even overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade.
    A more conservative Supreme Court could turn back the clock on protections for people in police custody, and make it easier to establish a surveillance state.
    A more conservative Supreme Court could sanction the death penalty to be used on children and for a wider array of crimes, as well as on the mentally disabled.
    A more conservative Supreme Court would likely be much more deferential to presidential action in national security matters.
    A more conservative Supreme Court could weaken the separation of church and state and entangle religion and politics.”

    When you say, “We want judges who are going to vote with the Constitution: the correct legal and constitutional interpretation.” You’re assuming that there is only one true correct interpretation and that you and other conservatives seem to be the only ones who posses it.

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