Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14: Reordering the Court

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Get ready for another ulcer-inducing session of political back and forth, known as the nomination and confirmation process for whoever replaces retiring United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

There are always assumptions about whomever a president appoints. Sometimes those assumptions are broken: Earl Warren and David Souter were far more liberal than their appointing presidents, Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush, would have liked. Byron White turned out to be a relatively conservative (old-school conservative) appointment by John F. Kennedy.

There is a tradition of seriousness and studiousness in the way the Supreme Court goes about its work. Never mind that sometimes, the opinions are badly rendered (including last January's 5-4 campaign finance ruling). There is a dignity to the way justices discuss and decide their cases.

It's a stark contrast to the process that puts them on the Supreme Court.

Even the Founding Fathers believed that the governing and legislating processes were supposed to be messy; that's why they created three branches of government, so the judicial branch would tell the other two how they were supposed to do it.

But whoever winds up being the next person to serve on the high court deserves a lot better than he or she is about to get.

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