Friday, 1 July 2005

O'Connor's Resignation

There was no need to turn on the news today for me to learn of Sandra Day O'Connor's stepping down from the high court. Five separate emails encouraged me to make my voice heard in one way or another about the selection of her replacement. Blogging about it is probably not what they had in mind. I can only imagine how many emails flooded the in-boxes of those who are involved in pro-choice politics. My own came from Democracy for America (Dean's old group), John Kerry, the ACLU, a gay rights group, and Of course the subtext here is mostly about choice/abortion since O'Connor was a swing vote, but fairly consistently voted to defend Roe v. Wade principles.

When conservatives complain that it's the Democrats who apply the litmus test to high court appointments they have a point. Of course there will be plenty of litmus tests to go around on both sides of the issue depending on who's doing the judging. In the Presidential debates though, it was Bush who rhetorically denied the application of a single issue litmus test, while Kerry in spite of eloquently expressing sympathy for pro-life sentiment, suggested that his court appointees would necessarily be pro Roe v Wade.

My concerns with O'Connor have largely been on other issues close to my heart, such as her dissent on the decision disallowing the death penalty for juveniles. Personally I would like to know a prospective justice's proclivities on a whole range of issues, and it does not necessarily follow that given a choice between two, my preference would go toward the one most likely to uphold Roe v Wade. I find it rather annoying that the Democratic Party's choice would almost automatically go to the pro-choice candidate regardless. Make no mistake, though, I still would much prefer that Kerry be making this choice than Bush. The political fallout will be interesting.

One email pointed me to this piece in the Washington Post in which Harry Reid publicly encouraged Bush to name one of the following Republican Senators: DeWine of Ohio, Graham of South Carolina, Martinez of Florida, or Crapo of Idaho. It seems quite unlikely Bush would do so, especially DeWine or Martinez, who come from states where Republican majorities are slim. I'm not sure, if for instance the just elected Martinez became a justice, whether brother Jeb, as Governor of Florida would get to name the replacement Senator for a brief interim until a special election, for a longer interval until the 2006 election where the voters would elect someone for the 4 remaining years of the term, or for the full remainder of the term.

No comments: