So this is how my mind wonders . . . I love the veepstakes. I always do, because it is the first real sign we get to see in how a presidential candidate thinks and evaluates. Of course, maybe my thinking doesn’t always match with most folks but I was blown-away by Gov. Sarah Palin’s choice four years ago and I adore the women to this day. She is a modern Thatcher. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve always thought Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden was the first sign of how shallow his talk of “hope and change” always was. Big word and big dreams, but in the end Obama fell back to a tried and true liberal. Its a process he has repeated over and over again.
So that gets me to my point. Would it be improper for a presidential nominee to select a Supreme Court justice? I understand that it has never been done before and that there is a perception that the judiciary is above politics, but constitutionally it a co-equal of three. Presidents have been senators, congressmen, governors, and generals. Why not a judge?
The first thing I know what will come up is the “impartiality” of the judge being compromised. Yet I expect senators and congressmen and governors to act to represent all the people and not just the ones that voted for them. Furthermore, judges generally come out of politics in some way or another. Some, like Justice O’Connor, were actually politicians. Others, like Justice Thomas, were members of the executive branch by political appointment. Most all of them were law partners or lawyers aligned with various politicians. Let’s break down the political backgrounds of our justices:
- Chief Justice Roberts: Served as deputy solicitor general in Bush White House
- Justice Alito: Deputy attorney general, deputy solicitor general, US Attorney for New Jersey
- Justice Scalia: General council in Nixon Administration, Deputy Attorney General
- Justice Kennedy: Private practice and university professor
- Justice Thomas: Assistant to Missouri AG Danforth, legislative assistant to then-Sen. Danforth, assistant Education secretary, chairman EEOC
- Justice Ginsburg: General Counsel ACLU
- Justice Breyer: Counsel to various congressional committees and deputy AG
- Justice Sotomayor: Private practice and judge
- Justice Kagan: US Solicitor General
So of our current Justices, only two (Sotomayor and Kennedy) have no political background. Furthermore, all of them shared the hyper-political experienced of being nominated and approved by the US Senate for various jobs including their present one. Justices are an integral part of a political town and they often just as capable, if not moreso, of handling power.
The problem is that there is no real precedent. The Supreme Court is, when occupied by famous politicians, generally where careers end. William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, and Hugo Black are three of the biggest political names I can think of that ended up on the Court. The only real name of any consequence I could think of was antebellum political figure John McLean of Ohio. He ran for various political presidential nominations over and over. Another problem is the distaste many may have for injecting politics in the Court. I would argue that there is no part of the government where politics is injected more is the Court.
The point of this exercise is to outwardly wonder if someone like Mitt Romney shouldn’t look at someone like Samuel Alito to be his running mate. If executive and legislative branches can interchange with each other and the judiciary, why can’t the judiciary interchange the other way? We all know its a fallacy that politics is not a part of our judicial system. The judiciary might be loaded of men and women of the left and the right that are smarter and more capable of handling our country than the current crop of politicians we are forced to choose between.