Konspiracy Korner: SCOTUS
if we can discuss this one, we can discuss ANY thing :- )


It would be very hard to find any philosophical tinder more apt to produce a raging fire.  That's because of a little issue called "abortion rights," and we'll hand the microphone to Antonin Scalia:


At the same time, Roe created a vast new class of abortion consumers and abortion proponents by eliminating the moral opprobrium that had attached to the act. ("If the Constitution guarantees abortion, how can it be bad?"—not an accurate line of thought, but a natural one.) Many favor all of those developments, and it is not for me to say that they are wrong.

But to portray Roe as the statesmanlike "settlement" of a divisive issue, a jurisprudential Peace of Westphalia that is worth preserving, is nothing less than Orwellian. Roe fanned into life an issue that has inflamed our national politics in general, and has obscured with its smoke the selection of Justices to this Court in particular, ever since.

And by keeping us in the abortion umpiring business, it is the perpetuation of that disruption, rather than of any pax Roeana, that the Court's new majority decrees.


1.  If you think about it, that's a real shame.  That a single issue has crushed (a formerly beautiful) American political process under its bulldozer treads.


2.  In my opinion, very few of us authentically care about "qualified" or not qualified.  There are probably 1,000 people who could grow into the job of Supreme Court Justice, given a year's preparation.  I'm guessing that Bill James, and Mojician, and President Obama, and Arnold Schwarzenegger :- ) could capably handle the job.  Given the right entourage, and tutelage, and time to come up to speed.

2a.  What you, and I, really care about is getting a justice who will turn America towards the direction that you (or I) have in mind.  My impression is that this direction is either --- > (1) back towards the Judeo-Christian ethics of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin or --- > (2) forward towards an unshackling from the obsolete beliefs of centuries past.

Seems to me, that's really what's going on.  And that the surface, ostensible, debates about "qualifications" and "textualism" and "process" and "precedent" etc. do nothing more than muddy the water.  Let's be real about what we want here.  We want the traditional America, or we want an America that has evolved past its traditional roots.  Correct me if I'm wrong.


3.  From a Constitutional standpoint, it seems clear that President Obama has a right to nominate a Justice.  And that the Senate has the procedural right to withhold consent.

3a.  In practical terms, it is hardly unprecedented for the Senate to kick the can down the road when there are nine months until the next Administration.  As I understand it, President Obama himself chose "delay" strategies when he himself was a U.S. Senator.

3b.  Democrats say that it might cost some Republican Senators some votes if they are identified as delaying the nomination for the President.  I don't know whether that's true.  Objectively speaking, you would think that Republican voters (the Senate is 54-44 Republican) would credit Senators for battling towards a conservative Justice.  

I would welcome some intelligent feedback as to whether that is actually the case, whether several Republican Senators risk their seats by obstructing Obama.  I wouldn't doubt it, but couldn't identify which Senators they were.


4.  This particular nomination could set America's direction for a generation to come.

4a.  Under those circumstances -- and with the next election in full swing! as we speak -- I personally think that the next Justice should be decided by the American people themselves.  In the form of an election for President.  I'm pretty sure :: albert brooks broadcast news :: I would say the same if Ronald Reagan had nine months left in office.

And that seems like middle ground to me.  Let's see what the American voter has to say about the balance of the court.  (After all, they will be the ones whose lives will be affected!)  

It was supposed to be a government of the people, and for the people.  The American voter ... if he/she wants [Hillary or Sanders and another Ruth Bader Ginsburg], so be it.  If he/she wants [Cruz or Rubio and another John Roberts], so be that.  If he/she wants [Donald Trump and who in the world knows what Justice?!?], so be that too.

I'd be fascinated to hear your guesses as to who a President Donald Trump might nominate.  No.  Earthly.  Idea.  How shocked would you be if he plumped for Scott Boras :- )


5.  There was an interesting point made the other day ... that the Founding Fathers didn't expect Supreme Court Justices to live until they were 80, 90 years old and thus serve for 40+ years.  Is that true?  In any case, I could buy the idea that there's a lot more at stake these days than there was in the 19th century.


6.  This is kind of a fun read on Scalia's most quotable moments.  :- )


7.  An extra dose of respect, Please.  "Tolerance" is about authentic respect for those who see the world differently than we do.

;- )


'ave at us,

Dr. D



-- Chief Justice John Marshall was appointed in 1801 -- not an election year ... but only because the election was already over, and John Adams had lost!  And lost Congress!  Lame duck squared!  But constitutionally still in office.  Meanwhile they were adding new judgeships for Adams to appoint at the last minute (Midnight Judges), and subtracting judges from the Supreme Court such that Jefferson wouldn't be able to pack it with his own people.

-- For a time, Marshall was technically both Chief Justice and Secretary of State!

-- And he went on to serve 35 years!  And set the tone for the Judicial Branch to this day (Marbury v. Madison -- a case in which he had about six dozen conflicts of interest).

--  Yes, yes, yes the other party screamed.  They even passed a law delaying the Supreme Court's session such that in effect the court didn't even convene for a year and a half.

-- The Constitution ensured lifetime appointments, so the only way for Jefferson's crowd to expel the Adams appointees would be impeachment.  They tried this with a bald-faced political impeachment of Samuel Chase, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  The Senate declined to remove him from office, setting the precedent that judges not be removed just for their opinions.

So big political fights over the nature of the judiciary is nothing new.  Parties using their constitutional prerogatives such as they are to ram things through and/or delay-delay-delay also nothing new.

Hypocrisy dependent on whether your party is doing the ramming through or the delaying (and which serves your interest at the time) also nothing new.

Parties with the power to ram through, ram through.  Parties with the power to delay, delay.

Generally, though, the notion that highly-qualified individuals would be disqualified simply on the basis of opinions disfavored by the majority party did not break through until 1987 with Robert Bork.  And that was largely due to the idea that Bork would threaten Roe in a way that an Anthony Kennedy ultimately would not (which turned out to be correct).

Of course, now we are told that "Bork-ing" is only a one-way street.  It is only permissible against appointees who might threaten Roe (and, presumably, now the Obergefell marriage case as well -- determined, as it were, by the Justice appointed instead of Bork).

The President absolutely has the power to nominate, and can't be prevented from doing so. The President has no authority to force the Senate to bring any matter up for a vote, and no nominee can take office without both.

Both sides will spin the debate, but there are only about 3-4 GOP senators in tough races, and really the only one who might be seriously hurt by delaying a vote (Kirk of Illinois) is likely to lose anyway.

Regardless, if it were to come to that, I think the GOP would sacrifice a couple of Senate seats to prevent a guaranteed fifth vote for the left side of the Court.


When there is a 4-4 split, the decision of the lower court (being appealed from to the Sup Ct) is allowed to stand.  It is not "affirmed" (and, obviously, not "reversed" either), but it stands as if it had not been appealed.

Whether the Court, from an institutional standpoint, would allow something as major as Bush v. Gore to fall that way is another question.  But if it had happened, then the decision of the Florida Supreme Court (the lower court in that instance) would have prevailed.


On the issue of whether the Senate will suffer GOP losses if those senators bock Obama's nominee, I would say that is unlikely except in very liberal states where they are defending like Illinois and Pennsylvania.  On the other hand...if they give in to Obama - unless Obama surprises conservatives and nominates someone who is less liberal than we are presently expecting - the entire Republican Party might well collapse.  Seriously...I am a Rubio backer and I try very hard to maintain a level of calm about intra-party squabbling and call for my friends in conservatism to keep their cool and think longer-term...but conservatives are very...very angry right now at their own party for, as many would put it, giving in to the left on every battle that matters.  They're also completely terrified that, if the supreme court shifts predictably leftward, it will rule against their right to religious liberty or their right to bear arms individually (as was telegraphed by left-leaning jurists in the Heller case).  If the GOP caves to a left-wing nomination, I will try to understand...but many of my friends will quit on the party altogether...voter turnout will collapse.


Republican leaders want a solid choice - be the justice moderate or right leaning or just leaning the right way on a couple key topics, like Kennedy, Souter, Roberts or Alito. Republicans are more concerned with trying to be liked (or becoming popular) versus imposing their philosophy upon the left. Therefore, it will be easy for Obama to divide Republicans by making just a near moderate choice - especially if Clinton gets a sizable lead in the polls over whomever the Republican candidate is. Given the proper set of circumstances, many Republicans would rather let Obama select a near moderate to the bench versus having an extremely close Presidential election. 

Many current Conservatives are different though today... making a BIG distinction between Conservatives and Republicans. Most Conservatives are probably convinced that no matter who replaces Scalia, the SC will drift leftward - whether the next justice is selected by Obama or Rubio / Trump / Bush / Carson and possibly even Cruz. That is because Scalia was the quintessential justice for conservatives... Scalia never surprised anyone with his views. He was always dependable. Virtually ANYONE that replaces Scalia will lean more left than Scalia, because there is no room to move further right. Many Conservatives are sick and tired of the incremental deterioration of virtues, ideals and just plain ole family values over the past 100 years. This incrementailism MUST be stopped and REVERSED somewhat... but no one is listening to these Conservatives, so you get the anger instead... and that anger is growing and growing. Everyone can ignore or minimalize this group, but I believe this group has at least 20% of the Republican party... and they will be heard one way or another.

Therefore, IF Obama selects a person who passes for a moderate at the proper tenuous moment, Obama can get his choice AND tear apart the Republican party - thus winning the election for Clinton... because Matt you are correct. Conservatives will explode if Obama is allowed to get his choice approved... REGARDLESS of who it is.



Kudos to you TR.  

I think that since about 1963, the left has clearly made *very steady* progress and IMHO it is precisely due to this incrementalism and their willingness to stay in the issues for the long haul.


tjm's picture

That was never the founders' intent. In fact, their intent was the opposite. See this piece from historian Gary Wills: http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/02/15/next-supreme-court-justice-not-u...

In any event, the people have decided they want Obama to be president. Twice - by overwhelming electoral college majorities. I don't recall seeing anywhere when Obama ran that he was being elected to three-year terms. (He's got eleven months left, not nine.) You know, the Senate is perfectly capable of going about its business, holding hearings and voting no on an Obama nominee. Why go this route of deciding to not even consider a nominee instead? It's because McConnell wants to normalize his position so that it doesn't seem unreasonable, which it is by almost any definition. You'll recall that it was the same McConnell who before Obama even took office said it was his goal to make Obama's presidency unsuccessful.

I've no idea how this plays out in the election. I'd guess that being viewed as pure obstructionists would hurt Republican candidates in these blue-leaning states where they are definding Senate seats - Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Illinois. But I'm not sure. Most presidential elections have been won in the middle - that is, candidates win by attracting votes from moderates and independents to add to their core cupporters. Everybody seems to think this election will be different, that it will be a base election with each side pumping out their own voters at high rates and forfeiting the middle.

If that's true, woe be us. We won't have a functioning Congress for twenty years.

For what it's worth, I loved Scalia even though I disagreed with him about 98 percent of the time. He elevated the standards of the court - except when he didn't, Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, etc. - and he was a fabulous writer and wit of the sort we nowadays ahve so few of in public life. 

Here's a nice Scalia anecdote: 

He was on a PBS program that took the form of a round-table discussion on the ethics of bio-enhancement. The other guests included prominent ethicists, writers, scientists. The discussion took place in Washington, D.C.., and began early on the morning after a rather too celebratory dinner party welcoming the participants to town. At one point in the discussion, the neuroscientist Tim Tully remarked that he didn’t really care about the invention of cognitive enhancement drugs. He looked forward to the day, he said, when you could take a pill to cure the red wine hangovers afflicting several of the panelists. Scalia said: “Will it work for Scotch?”


And it is clearly understood by our society that if it elects President Obama or President Bush, that the seats are going to be packed with judges who reflect their philosophies.  You tacitly underline that at the outset of your second paragraph amigo.

I'll bet you a donut that given this situation to observe -- in both its theoretical and in its practical lights -- that the Founding Fathers would want the will of the people reflected at this tipping point in American history.


Yes indeed Obama was elected.  As was the Republican Senate.  Putting my independent hat on, what the American people seem to have wanted lately was a check on extremism.

But, agreed, the obstructionism (on both sides) is getting ugly lately.  Which reflects the state of our rhetoric and our nation, in my humble opinion.

Thanks for the remarks Terry :- )


what exactly has the GOP proposed the last seven years that Obama obstructed?

At least Newt Gingrich had a plan...

tjm's picture

Doc - Before the point is lost, framing this as a choice between traditional America and an evolving America is too blunt an instrument. We all have things we like about both sides of that divide and happily cherry pick among them. Personally, I'm quite happy the Supreme Court took away from localities the right to educate their children any way and with whomever they wanted. And I'm not crazy about the modern courts allowing a degree of intrusion into private lives for the presumed sake of national security. As I said, every one can cherry pick.

I think the bigger differences that the court holds sway over are economic rights and legal rights of individuals versus the coercive power of the state. I think we all want elements of the evolved America. We're trying to figure out which ones. I, for example, think the DH is a great idea and I have no idea whatsoever what to think of 11-year-olds who say they were born in the wrong gender.


Thanks for stating it.  Yes I breezed by that too quickly and summarized it with too broad a brush.  It's a discussion in itself.


By simply asking a series of questions:

1) Does throwing the abortion bomb at the start of the piece help promote reasoned thought?

2) Haven't the American people already had a voice in naming the next justice by electiing Obama twice?

3) What does it say to you about the GOP that both Cruz and McConnell declared full frontal obstruction within an hour of hearing of the death?

4) By refusing to consider, is the senate in violation of its Constitutional mandate (as opposed to accepting the nomination and then dragging its feet)?

5) Would you have the same opinion if there were a GOP president?

6) How would you feel about Obama declaring a recess appointment?


Of course, the President is free to nominate someone and send it to the Senate for its consent.  If anyone is suggesting he doesn't have that authority, then they're wrong.

But what the Senate does with it after they receive it is up to the Senate.

If they say "we choose not to bring this up because it's an election year and this is a 5-4 court and we're replacing a conservative with a liberal" the President has no actual authority to prevent that.

If they say "we choose not to bring this up because the average temperature in Singapore in October is 80 degrees fahrenheit" the President has no actual authority to prevent that either.

(In other words, the reason -- actual or pretext -- is immaterial for anything other than the politics of it.)


Simply by answering them concisely ;- )

1.  On some other blog, the intent might have been to "drop a bomb" -- to shock, divide, and initiate a flame war.  However, this is Seattle Sports Insider.  The intent was for us to quickly orient on what is true and what is important, without playing games.  

You've read SSI before; at some point I hope you'll start giving the blog credit for its intent to exchange ideas freely and respectfully.

1a.  If there's a Civil War in America, it will probably be over abortion rights and gay marriage.  (You could, ahem, nominate Immigration as a third factor.)  People care very, very deeply about those issues.  

What the article said was that the abortion issue has crowded out the other issues in a SCOTUS appointment, and that I regret its prominence.  This statement bothered you somehow?


2.  Yes.  As they did by electing a 54-44 Republican Senate.  

2a.  And it seems to me that neither side should be averse to letting voters have their say again, in November.  One side argues "the people have spoken!" in electing Obama; the other side argues, "the people have spoken!" in electing the Senate.  Okay, we're not sure what they said.  Wouldn't we usually just go ask them again?

If we don't know what Bill James believes about Pitcher Abuse Points, should we analyze 10,000 historical writings he made, or just throw a sentence into the Hey Bill mailbox?


3.  That they're honest.


4.  Could well be.  There are many points at which our government has to go through the motions of complying with the letter of the law.  

4a.  Isn't this what Senator Obama did, when he was in the senate?


5.  I would hope so.


6.  I don't know what a recess appointment is.


Jim (Spectator) led off the comments with the remark that EITHER party, when it has the power to nominate OR delay OR lay down harrying fire, does exactly that and then when --- > the situation is reversed, it calls hypocrisy.  That's why we have Sanders and Trump leading, isn't it .....

It's hard for me to imagine that if the shoe was on the other foot, and Dems 54-44 in the Senate, that they would do Ted Cruz "a solid" and put one of his Justices on the court just before an election finished.

What is your reaction to that?




I actually think civil is more likely to break out over gun control, land ownership rights or immigration than over abortion or gay marriage.  Those last two issues are slowly working their way to a consensus...very slowly, no doubt.  Gay marriage is supported by a heavy plurality of young Republicans (aged 40 and younger, they oppose it only 44-56) and the trend is for that shift to continue to some sort of resolution where conservative states simply stop issuing ANY marriage licenses and accept gay marriage as a civil contract.  And millennials are increasing turning more pro-life with time.  The most recent suggests that millennials are over 70% in favor of some limitations on abortion, including term limits (usually 20 weeks) and requirements that the mother-to-be be given an ultrasound before finalizing her decision.  I believe a detente will be reached on the abortion issue eventually.  It'll be legal, with some limits, and clinics will be required to live up to the same standards of true informed consent, emergency medical readiness and staffing that all other clinics must comply with...some won't be happy with that outcome, but we'll have bigger fish to fry.

If, however, the Supreme Court rules that the second amendment does not apply to individuals, the warfare will be nearly immediate, IMHO.  As one exmaple.


I think we might live in two different worlds.  I honestly do not know anyone personally (including a lot of Republicans) who would think for one minute that a GOP led Senate would tell a GOP President, 'yeah, thanks for the nomination, but we're just gonna sit here on our thumbs for 11 months and let the next person decide it.'

As to the scenario with a Dem controlled Senate and a GOP President, they would at least be smart enough to go through the motions. And I notice today, now that the reflexive hatred of Obama has given way to a second thought on political blowback, that some of those early reactions are being walked back by the GOP obstructors.


When a reporter surprises him by asking about Obama's own filibuster of Samuel Alito.

President Obama frankly expresses his "regret" for "his approach" and, in the video, semi-acknowledges the legitimacy of the current Republican "strategies."


Definitely, I agree with you about party control.  Everybody knows that if Reagan were sitting and the Senate were Republican, they'd move a Justice through quickly.  As would be the case with Clinton and a Democratic Senate.  You're right about that.


I don't agree that Republicans "reflexively hate" Obama.  At least not more than Democrats reflexively hate Bush.

tjm's picture

. . . was merely symbolic. Alito had the votes and everyone knew it. This was just a way to make a point. The filibuster was chosen as the means to make the point inside the Democratic caucus. Obama criticized the plan even as he joined the filibuster which actually never even occurred. 


... but why then should President Obama express regret over his actions?


Just a straightforward question, not at all rhetorical TJM.  Shoe on the other foot, do you see a Democratic Senate moving on a George W. appointee in exactly this situation?

I'll accept your answer as genuine from your point of view, needless to say.  Just curious.

tjm's picture

Democrats are by nature proceduralists. They believe in rules - they've made so many! This is not to say they would approve the nominee, but they would certainly hold hearings and have a vote. If my memory is correct, Scalia was nearly a unanimous approval even though he was widely regarded as an ultra-conservative. Alito was confirmed despite being seen as something of a hack.

I think given this situation in the beginnig of the last year of Bush's last term they would seek to force him to make a more centrist choice.


i remember a number of Democratic Southern Conservatives in the Senate back in the 80's: Heflin, Rollins, Nunn. They've been replaced with a lot of Northern liberals. Heck, look at Washingon: Slate Gorton and Dan Evans replaced by Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Even Clarence Thomas needed Southern Democrats to get through.

David Souter was no Conservative's first choice, but Bush Sr. was facing a liberal leaning Senate that was emboldened by the Bork victory to flex its muscles. So Bush appointed a couple of stealth candidates, neither with much of a record to scrutinize, Any heavyweights like a Bork would have been near impossible to get through.


While I would agree whole heartily with Doc's answers, I would add to the conversation on question 3.

While multiple people including Cruz and McConnell have said the same thing, in mere hours of the announcement of the death... and given that both sides have been asking for honesty from the other side in "discussions" over the past few years... my points / queries are:

1. Why is NOW and this subject the point where the Republicans start to show complete open and honest answers and details of how they plan to address a fairly obvious controversial subject? I especially do not understand the need to rush answers out before the debate... what was the point? Is being first that important on THIS subject? I do understand that the candidates are out campaigning and making stump speeches, but why did McConnell or any of the other Congress members feel compelled to go on record? This reaction just highlights the disarray the Republican party is in - or how much the Republican leaders are fearful of letting Trump have any say on issues, that they can not even could not even wait a day to form a nuanced answer versus the blunt and truly brutal attack on this subject that they ended up with.  

2. Has there EVER been a subject where the Democrats have ever been so public and so open about ANY plans they had on a certain subject?

3. Why did debate only have one question on the death of Scalia? Why not ask / probe the candidates on how Scalia's death has changed this race? Why not ask these candidates other policy questions on the cases that now may be impacted or delayed due to Scalia's death? Again, I realize the purpose of those running the dabate was to create a brawl versus a policy discussion, but a second question at least should have normal protocol, right???   


Agreed TR.  I don't doubt for one moment that there are 100 out of 100 Senators who would be candid when it benefits them to be so, and to be guarded when it benefits them to be so.  Come to think of it, don't we all live that way?  ... Not accusing Ted Cruz of remarkable truthfulness, that's for sure.

On 2., That's a great question.


I would have thought that Scalia's death would have pushed *some* Republican voters from Trump over to Cruz/Rubio.  So far there is zero sign of that.  I wonder why.

Perhaps it's because Trump has a faithful 35% of the Republican vote -- those concerned with money problems and immigration problems but not social problems -- and the 65% are just sliding back and forth between the other candidates.

tjm's picture

Rain - I tried to address McConnell's honesty above. Let me be more explicit. He's not being honest. He's claiming an unwritten rule that has never existed in the hopes that the debate will be about the rule and not about an Obama nominee. It's working. People are arguing about whether Anthony Kennedy was acted upon with even less time and not about the virtues of a nominee and whether that timeframe is really pertinent because he was eplacing the Bork nomination.

Here's the danger McConnell is trying to avoid: What if Obama nominates someone everybody agrees is a moderate? Then McConnell is in the position of having to unreasonably object to a moderate even though the nominee is broadly respected. There are really good Circuit and Appeals court judges appointed by Democrats who were approved unanimously by the Senate. So now they can't even vote on the nominee who two years ago they thought was just fine?

What if this Obama nominee is Latino or Asian, the two fstest growing ethnic groups in the country? What if it's the Asian version of Kagen, who Scalia, by the way, urged the Obama administration to appoint even though he knew her politics were opposite his? Scalia wanted her on the court because he thought she was really smart Then the GOP is put in the position of insulting one of these groups both of which they have to make inroads into if they havd any hope of winning not just now but for the foreseeable future. That's what McConnell is worried about.


Supposing that Pres. Obama nominated somebody truly moderate -- not moderate from the POV of Obama, but moderate from the POV of the 50th-percentile voter in the U.S.

In that event -- which I can't imagine; maybe I'm wrong -- the Senate would indeed have a moral imperative to consider the appointee.  Point cheerfully conceded.

As I understand it, this was what the Framers wanted:  for the President and Congress to authentically negotiate an appointee.  Problem as I see it is that both sides are standing on opposing 10-yard lines, and neither will even consider moving out to its own 20.

But!  If they really could meet on the 51-yard lines about the next Justice, then Go Baby.

tjm's picture

. . . one of the founding fathers? I swear, I thought I'd been hearing that for the last 20 years.

I say this all the time but people like REgan and especially Nixon would never win a GOP primary today. Too liberal, which is pretty hard to believe if you grew up thinking they were reactionaries. Obama is in many of his policies way to the right of Nixon but we're told he's a radical extremist.


Reagan was the sitting president, encouraging an opposition-controlled Senate to quickly confirm HIS appointee.  Of course he would push for exactly that action, just as President Obama is doing today.  But it is hardly (as you seem to indicate) Reagan, from on high in the Great Gipper Beyond, lecturing today's GOP controlled senate on proper procedural decorum. 

By all means the president should nominate a replacement for Scalia.  But the senate is under no compulsion, Constitutional or otherwise, to hold hearings on or confirm that nominee.

I must admit that there are paths that President Obama could choose to follow that would eliminate any senatorial concern.  He could choose to nominate, as a recess appointment, a well-established Originalist from one of the Circuit or District Courts.  Such an appointee would serve only until the end of the next congressional session, allowing the next president to fill the position.  Such an action would truly be bipartisan of the president, choosing an Originalist to replace Originalist Scalia, temporarily.  If this president is so concerned about ending the rancor in Washington then he might just lead, from the front.  

But if the president is unwilling to cross the partisan divide and act in such a manner, both temporary and accordant, then any lecture from him on Republican obstructionism loses it's teeth. Why should the Republican senate surrender on the generational structure of the Supremem Court when the president is unwilling to?

He might have also decided to attend the funeral of Antonin Scalia, one of the most distinguished jurists in American history.

Go figure.




I understand your point on whether there is history of waiting or playing politics in lame duck year... and that is worthy of debate.

That was not what I believe the Republicans are being honest about though. My point was that the Republicans are being honest about their intentions to block any candidate that Obama suggests. Quite honestly, people on the left have to be smiling (if not laughing) at how the Republicans are handling this issue. The Democrats are now in a no lose situation, thanks exclusively to how the Republicans behaved without any prodding from the Democrats. The Republicans have handed the Democrats an easy and obvious way to 1. get people to donate money, 2. an issue that will never go away for the entire campaign, and 3. a subject that ties into MANY OTHER subjects that illustrate the points Democrats have been accusing the Republicans for years on - how the Republicans are Obstructers, inflexible Idealogs, and are just playing politics without regard for the country... all topics that tend to chase independants to the Democrats.     


Seemed odd and off-putting to me, for the Senate Majority Leader to *open* with a salvo that was confrontational at best and belligerent at worst.  From a sound-bite standpoint, Obama won again.

I've always liked his Presidential demeanor.  Miles better than Clinton, and probably a clear margin ahead of W.


...I get that we're all on edge, these being very balkanized times, politically speaking...but I do have to ask:

Would you deny that the question of Roe vs. Wade has come up very prominently in every single hearing on the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice since the decision was handed down...and that one side is looking for the key phrase "stare decisis" and the other side is looking for the key phrase "inalienable human right to life"...and that the side that doesn't get the answer it wants immediately will ratchet up the heavy hitting questions in an attempt to discredit the would-be appointee?

That's a non-partisan question, and I expressed no opinion (though it is likely that you know what my opinion is)...I'm asking you...is abortion NOT the single most hotly-contested issue of our generation and the one that preceded it?  And does that contentious atmosphere NOT come to dominate the way a justice is viewed by the political parties?

In short...did Dr. D say anything untrue that would make you leap to the conclusion that he was trying to throw bombs?


Of course, this is Doc's blog and he has a right to do anything he wants.  

And of course abortion is a (the most?) highly contentious issue.

But my feeling is that if a lefty blog wanted a reasoned discussion about the process/prospects of filling a Supreme Court seat, it would probably not be helpful to start by stating the case against Scalia for singlehandedly handing the 2000 election to Bush.

But whatever...


I remarked that abortion takes up too much space in the discussion.  Not that Scalia was right or wrong about it.


Q for you Diderot my friend.  Can you point me to a 'lefty blog' on which I can press my opinions - whatever they are - and be treated with respect?

;- )


In either case, I'm thinking that the moderates in the audience do not regard Seattle Sports Insider a 'righty blog.'  And the reader is invited to judge for himself whether the original article was reasonable.


let me withdraw the 'bomb' comment.  It just struck me as an off-topic way to start the discussion.   But as I also said, it's your house!  

You may find this odd, but I typically spend very little time reading comments on 'lefty blogs' (although maybe more lately because of the Bernie/Hillary arguments).  So, no, I can not point you to an appropriate blog for you comments to be warmly welcomed.  :)

As to your last point, my opinion is that this is a sports blogs which, when it dips its toe into politics, reveals an unusual and refreshing level of intelligence and decorum.  Which is why I like it.  And which is also why I hope my contributions don't lead you to believe that I'm subtracting from that civilized debate. 


Alas, places that accept comments with the civility of SSI are rare. I generally pay little attention to left/right labels, but it is hard to not be at least vaguely aware of them. During the '08 financial crisis, I ran across Naked Capitalism and it became one of my go to sites to follow the action. I don't spend a lot of time there anymore, and don't read the comments, and don't comment myself, so can't speak to how you would be treated. I know they had a problem with trolls and rudeness and shut down comments for awhile but some comments seem to be back. It is heavily finance and economics, rather than purely politically oriented, but the daily links are diverse and often entertaining.  And the authors on the site for the most part know their stuff. It would probably qualify as "lefty" leaning.

Nathan H's picture

By all means, please continue the conversations. Reading Spectator, so far, has been very interesting.

I tried to summon the reserves to contribute but, at each point, hit a wall. It seems that the more I tried to engage in these issues, the less stimulating I've found it. At some point it simply becomes disheartening. Ennui sets in and my soul croaks for...

  • Sweeping societal improvements (why is it out of our society's reach to support dedicating our lives, full-time, to the things that move us?)
  • Technological innovation (What wonders have secret military projects with no budgets or oversight to speak of unlocked? What wonders have yet to be discovered?)
  • The source of human consciousness (and what might uncovering that source mean?)

Whimsy, basically.

Groups of people are going to cross swords over the procedures involved in filling a bureaucratic position and all I can do is turn the other way on the couch, mid-nap. *grump*




What moves me, much of the time, is swinging pretty flies for wild steelhead.  So, should society support me dedicating my life to that pursuit?  If so, just how should society support me?

What if yacht racing moves me?  Really, should society support that, too?  How?

And if not, who gets to pick and choose the "moving" things that society "supports?"

Do I get to be that Czar? Oh, goody....


And WANTED to stake a public position based solely on the polls, how could you do it?

Should be very interesting to see how Donald Trump reacts to a malleable public opinion!  If he says and does very little, that will speak volumes also -- that social issues are indeed a low priority for him compared to $$$ and For'nurs.


“Keeping us in the abortion umpiring business” – My initial reaction, and after thinking about it, still my reaction, is that umpiring is the business of the Supreme Court. And an important, maybe the most important, area of umpiring is to reconcile competing rights both between individuals and between individuals and the State. Abortion is the most difficult issue of our time, in my opinion. Justice Scalia was correct; Roe did not settle the issue, because it is not an issue that can be settled. No compromise is possible because any movement away from the right to live destroys that right, and making that right inviolable prevents woman’s right to choose. Short of anarchy, someone must choose which right will prevail. Justice Scalia clearly thought that choice is more properly legislative rather than judicial. Although I think the Court does reflect the morals of its time (often lagging behind, occasionally leading), making the decision purely legislative would make the issue more responsive to the prevailing majority position. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on your point of view.

About appointment for life and life expectancy. Individuals living into their 80’s was not an unknown or even remarkable thing in the 18th century. I think that what brings down life expectancy is high infant mortality. If you could survive infancy, then you had a reasonable chance at a relatively long life. I just find it doubtful that a premise behind lifetime appointments was the expectation the individuals would not live past age 60. Mostly it was because they did not want judges beholden to anyone for their position for as long as they wanted to keep it, which seems sensible.

On whether to wait to nominate until after the election, I think it is a bad idea. If he wants to have an ideological food fight, then Obama will nominate someone patently unacceptable and cry foul at the blockade to make political hay. On the other hand, waiting until next year has its own risks for both sides since there is no guarantee who will control the White House or the Senate. In the meantime, we have an incomplete court for a whole term, which is not a good thing. What Obama should do is respect the process and nominate someone above reproach from either side. I fear a same party presidency and senate, whichever one. I much prefer a president choosing a nominee based on juridical skills because he or she must, not political positions because he or she can


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