Well, good morning judge…
New faces for the Supreme Court
January 27th 2022
Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Biden gets to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and he has already sworn that for the first time in 158 such nominations, his candidate will be both black and female.
The fascist right lost their collective minds over this, accusing Biden of affirmative action and exclusionary politics. But of the 158 nominations to the Court, exactly none were both black and female. Only two were black (the second a cynical exercise in tokenism by the Republicans) and only five were female (the last a sop to the lunatic religious right, also by the Republicans.) All the rest where white, and male. Talk about exclusionary politics!
Thirty-seven of those nominations failed, usually because they had something in their past, or were too egregiously unfit for office. The most recent one happened under Barack Obama, who nominated Merrick Garland. That was nine months before a presidential election, and Mitch McConnell blocked committee consideration of the nomination on the grounds that it was too close to the election. It didn’t stop him from shooing through, without hearings, religious token Amy Coney Barrett four years later and just 45 days before a presidential election. George W. Bush hit on the idea of nominating his own personal lawyer to the Court. Harriet Miers, her name was, and while she may well have been a not-bad justice, this was back before the GOP turned into a goosestepping death cult, and too many Republicans balked at the notion of a president’s personal lawyer with no visible qualifications on the Court.
The leading candidate at this point is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. At age 51, she’s on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, having been placed there a couple of years ago. Three Republicans broke ranks to vote for her: Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Murkowski is the only one of the three who isn’t a spineless goosestepper, and could be the 51st vote needed to confirm.
Jackson clerked for Stephen Breyer, the retiring Justice she may be replacing. She has double degrees from Harvard, and eight strong years as a district judge. She was (briefly) a hero to Republicans when she ruled in 2018 that the House Judiciary Committee couldn’t sue to compel Don McGahn to testify. That ruling was overturned, although the District Court was reconsidering it now in light of last week’s SC trouncing of Trump, 8-1. She does have a fairly high rate of reversals on appeal.
Another factor that should give progressives pause is that she served in an advisory capacity on the board of the religiously conservative Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland. Among other things this now-defunct school believed was “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation…All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society…In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love…Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” Wow. Sounds like the kind of zealotry you would expect to hear from Barrett.
The other front runner is Justice Leondra Kruger, who now serves on the California Supreme Court. She was only 37 when Governor Jerry Brown nominated her, and is still only 45 now. If selected, she would be the second youngest nominee for the court, behind only the still-juvenile Clarence Thomas.
She has also argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court itself, and graduated from Yale, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. She clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens, so she has quite a formidable record and strong familiarity with high court proceedings, both in California and DC. She was also a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School. She also graduated with honors from Harvard University, where she was a reporter for the Harvard Crimson. So she has an amazing record.
Most of her judicial record is liberal-leaning but with careful adherence to precedent. At a time when we have justices willing to trash voir dire in order to support nutball ideas from the lunatic right and trash voting and civil rights, she would be a strong voice for applying the brakes to this mad dash to the bottom that the Trump-infested court is now on.
Of the two, Kruger seems the stronger choice. There may be others on Biden’s list of whom I’m not aware, but those two, Kruger and Jackson, are the ones most mooted about.
I hope Biden names Kruger. I think she would be a strong, stabilizing force on the court going forward.