Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. He is the founder of SCOTUSblog, where this piece was originally posted. Here is how I think the nomination process is likely to play out. I divide it into process and substance. First, the process: Note the relationship between Monday’s announcement and the Senate calendar. There are seven weeks between Monday and June 28.
Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. He is the founder of SCOTUSblog.
Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. He is the founder of SCOTUSblog. A version of this piece was originally posted there on February 23, 2010. When Justice Stevens retires, what happens then? There will be a pretty efficient process. The White House will receive significant pressure from both the right and left, all of which it will basically ignore. Conservatives will want to use the Court as a rallying point for their base for the 2010 midterm elections and beyond.
John McCormack at the Weekly Standard has a splashy headline today: "Obama Now Selling Judgeships For Health Care Votes?" The story turns out to be that Obama is nominating Scott Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Matheson's brother is a member of Congress whose health care vote Obama would very much like. So now he's giving his brother a federal judgeship! So, let's meet this hack: Scott M. Matheson currently holds the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair at the S.J.
Ramesh Ponnuru unpacks his controversial description of Sotomayor as "Obama's Harriet Miers," explaining: What I'm suggesting is that both nominees were picked because they were women, because they were members of politically valued groups (evangelicals in Miers's case, Hispanics in Sotomayor's), and because they were considered politically reliable by the people who picked them. Neither was picked based on her impressive legal mind, although the pickers in each case doubtless believed that the nominee exceeded some threshold level of competence.
Both Curt Levey and Ramesh Ponnuru are arguing that Sotomayor is to Obama as Harriet Miers was to George W. Bush. The obvious insinuation here is that, like Miers, Sotomayor is an intellectual lightweight. But despite what's been written and said about Sotomayor on that score, I think it's going to be much tougher to make that case against her than it was against Miers.
This story in the Post today is absolutely incredible--if unsurprising. The White House has refused to let Harriet Miers testify before Congress, citing executive privilege. Congress has threatened to charge her with contempt. But now the Bush administration has responded by saying that the Justice Department will never pursue contempt charges against Miers or any other official who invokes executive privilege.
In the historical race to the bottom that is Nixon v. Bush, the late trickster would seem to have the edge: He was an unimpeachable lawbreaker-- actually, an impeachable one--a claim that doesn't quite stick to Bush. But, in the last month, Bush has been closing fast. While he may not have any second- rate burglaries under his belt, his record now includes his very own version of the Saturday Night Massacre, thanks to the purging of eight U.S. attorneys.
Anyway, to get back to politics, yesterday Harriet Miers submitted her resignation as White House counsel. The official line is that the president was reluctant to let her go and that she left, as Tony Snow put it, because: "She's been here for six years. It's hard duty." That's probably true.
Last September, Hurricane Katrina revealed a Bush administration studded through and through with hacks. These cronies exhibited the quality made infamous by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Michael Brown: a loyalty to party and president that could overcome the kinds of issues that would give lesser governments pause, such as insufficient experience or a sketchy diploma.