Sowell on Republicans and the Court

A good column by Thomas Sowell on Republican presidents who inflicted liberal justices on us and on the need for the GOP to learn its lessons at last if it is to offer a genuine alternative to the Democrats. Unfortunately, Sowell leaves out President Reagan’s disastrous, utterly unnecessary appointment of O’Connor. Teacher, teach thyself.

Also, Sowell says that GOP presidents have picked liberal justices to avoid Senate confirmation fights. But Eisenhower picked Warren and Brennan (the latter becoming the intellectual leader of the liberal Warren and Burger courts) in an era before (as I understand it) there were the terrible fights that have become familiar in more recent decades. The real cause of the problem, it seems to me, is that various Republican presidents either had no real grasp of the liberal transformation of the Constitution that was going on, or didn’t really care about it, and thus had no thought of the necessity of stopping it. Notwithstanding their emission of some conservative noises, they were within the liberal mindset, not outside of it.

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David B. writes:

I just saw your post about Thomas Sowell’s column regarding Supreme Court justices. Sowell said that GOP presidents picked liberal justices to avoid Senate confirmation fights and you wrote that Eisenhower picked Warren and Brennan in an era before “the terrible fights that have become the norm in more recent decades.”

I got out my copy of “The Man Who Once Was Whizzer White,” the biography of the late Supreme Court Justice, Byron White. In 1962, White’s confirmation hearings lasted only ninety minutes. The same afternoon, White was confirmed in the Senate by voice vote. That was the norm at the time.

I have read that Eisenhower was advised to choose Brennan for either of two reasons. The first was that picking a liberal democrat for the Supreme Court would be seen as a bipartisan gesture. The other was that nominating Brennan would help Eisenhower with the Catholic vote. Either was, it was a GOP political choice that pandered to liberals. Reagan’s nomination of O’Connor was very similar.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 15, 2010 08:30 AM | Send

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