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After Justice John Paul Stevens retires

[UPDATED AFTER THE JUMP]

Justice John Paul Stevens’s retirement is an enormous loss for the country, and particularly for progressives who have valued his brave and straightforward defense of civil liberties, equal rights and equal justice over many years.

But his departure should not lead to a bloody battle over his successor. Whomever President Obama names to the court will be no more liberal than Stevens -- and might possibly be slightly less so.

Unfortunately, I fear that this won’t stop conservatives from trying to paint any Obama nominee as extreme and dangerous. Struggles over Supreme Court nominations are a great way to mobilize one’s political base, and they help a lot of organizations to raise money. Confirmation battles help, too.

There are really two issues here. The first involves progressives, who very much want Obama to name someone who will be as aggressive as Stevens has been in standing up for their values. Obama’s political interests on this are mixed: On the one hand, Democrats seem less excited about this fall’s elections than Republicans, and a liberal pick would be a great pick-me-up for party loyalists. But with so much else that Obama is trying to get through Congress, he doesn’t want a Court fight to suck up all of Washington’s political energy.

Then will come the fight over the nominee he does pick. As it happens, Obama has some excellent options who might help him balance his political interests. I know three of the people whose names are said to be on the short list: Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court and Solicitor General Elena Kagan. All three are exceptionally bright, balanced in their approach, and warm personalities who would give excellent accounts of themselves at hearings. All are on the progressive side, yet it would be absurd to paint any of them as extreme. (Also being widely mentioned is Judge Diane Wood, who appears to meet all these criteria, as well.)

My hunch is that if there is any discernible philosophical difference among these potential nominees, Obama may pick the one who appears most liberal for this spot. He will save the apparently more moderate pick for later, when he might get a chance to replace a conservative justice. But all this will require some pretty fine parsing, since it is hard to discern clear differences in viewpoint among the members of his short list.

Let there be no mistake: The court has become increasingly conservative under Chief Justice John Roberts, and we could use a vigorous public debate over the growing dangers of conservative judicial activism. This poses another challenge, both to Obama and to whomever he picks. I would like to see these issues discussed fearlessly and openly. But having a genuine philosophical debate may not be in the interest of either the administration or the potential justice. I hope both can find a way to square prudence and principle. The conservatives have largely controlled the national dialogue on legal issues. It’s time for progressives to grab it back.

UPDATE, 3:36 p.m. ET: I want to second my friend Harold Meyerson’s eloquent post on Justice Stevens’s role as the great restrainer of an increasingly activist conservative court. I am especially glad Harold reminded us of Stevens’s great dissent in Bush v. Gore, notably its peroration: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”

I would also note that, elsewhere on the site, The Post offers a longer list of potential Court nominees than I do, and that Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minnow is not on The Post’s list. Minnow is very much in the running, and she has been on other short lists. It’s perfectly possible, of course, that someone on the Post’s list who is not on mine may emerge as the nominee. But my best sense is that the four people I name have the strongest chance of being picked.

By E.J. Dionne  | April 9, 2010; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Next: Another Waterloo moment? The Supreme Court battle ahead

Comments

It shouldn't lead to a bloody battle...ah well, that's politics in America these days. The left can either turn the other cheek as the Right takes their swings or they can fight back. That's the choice presented to us by the Limbaugh generation.

Posted by: paul6554 | April 9, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Believe me. If Obama can find a more liberal SC pick, he will do it. Obama would like to pack the SC with Marxists just like himself.

He needs some kind of lasting legacy.

The ObamaCare stink-bomb will not be enough, for him.

Posted by: battleground51 | April 9, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Barack "the biggest wimp ever" Obama will likely pick someone very moderate in the hopes that Republicans won't cause a fuss. The Republicans will cause a fuss anyway and we will be stuck with an even more conservative court. How many times does Obama have to negotiate against himself before he realizes he is just alienating the majority of Americans who elected him.

Posted by: aksunder | April 9, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse


Very insightful analysis.

If the Republicans are smart, they will use the confirmation hearings to articulate a strong, positive vision of limited government and personal opportunity.


Posted by: VirginiaIndependent | April 9, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Other writers are focusing on any new nominee's religion. I'd like to, also. Let's get off the myth and magic bandwagon and appoint an unabashed Atheist.

At least half of Americans, including very many who nominally call themselves believers, have zero belief in the god myth beyond presenting an uncontroversial social facade. This is particularly true as educational level increases, of course.

How about we respect this huge demographic?

Posted by: AIPACiswar | April 9, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Whomever President Obama names to the court will be no more liberal than Stevens
_____
Yeah like it's possible to pick a more Liberal judge than Stevens.. And being EJ is a crazy far left Liberal himself who thinks anyone to the right of Castro is a Conservative of course he thinks Obama is looking at moderates. Bottomline Conservatives will still hold a 5-4 edge no matter who Obama picks.. but it does mean the Liberals get younger. I just think it's funny how EJ is blaming Repubs for not just accepting Obama's pick... Dems went after Roberts and Alito remember.. Obama voted no on both of them..

Posted by: sovine08 | April 9, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

So Mr. President, do you or your minions have any ‘reconciliation’ type tricks up your sleeve to get a flaming liberal ‘approved’ for this opening?

OR will you have to follow normal Senate rules to get your candidate approved?


Posted by: bcarte1 | April 9, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Right on, EJ.

Unfortunately, I think that the outrage and fury from the right over Sonia Sotomayor (a clear moderate replacing one of the "liberal" justices) is a harbinger of the ludicrousness we can expect from anyone Barack Obama picks--it's Wise Latina-gate raised to the thousandth power. Given the state of the Republican party, they'd probably be just as vitriolic if the President nominated Roy Moore. "Moore may say he's conservative, but have you looked at his Bible? Have you read the Marxist claptrap this Jesus fellow spouts? Barack Obama spent 20 years listening to Jeremiah Wright quoting this radical Jesus!"

Posted by: JamesK1 | April 9, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The important thing is to pick somebody young. Simple math says that the side which picks the younger judges will eventually end up dominating the Court.

Posted by: bourassa1 | April 9, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

@VirginiaIndependent: And if the Democrats are smart, they will use the confirmation hearings to point out that the Republican vision of the Supreme Court brings us rulings like _Citizens United_ and the ability for foreign corporations to run our elections.

@bcarte1: That same "'reconciliation' type tricks" like the Republicans used hundreds of times when they were in the majority? No, read your Constitution. This is one of the rare times it actually specifies that something before the Senate needs more than an up-or-down 50+1 vote. The filibuster is not in the Constitution, though Mitch McConnell is apparently unaware of this fact.

Posted by: JamesK1 | April 9, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately the political clime right now demands a fight. No action on the part of the left can go unpunished by the right.

Gone are the days where opposing sides chose to find common ground whenever possible. Now we have a clime where the nuclear option is not the absolute last choice, but is becoming the standard choice.

No matter who the President chooses, there will be a fight.

Posted by: ey22314 | April 9, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

This pick will be about the upcoming constitutional challenges to the Obamacare law.

Dionne is losing his mind when he says, that the next pick will be more conservative. Obama will pick some one that he knows will decide for Obama care.

The next pick will make Ginsburg look conservative.

Now, I am not saying that the media will not spew the White House line, that the pick will be more conservative. As Dionne is doing today. The next pick will be portrayed as center right mainstream, prudent, pragmatic, and not radical in the least.

The truth will come out. It always does.

I have never seen the media try so hard to hide what a politician really is.

Posted by: thelaw1 | April 9, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

You are certainly right about one thing... the replacement almost has to be more conservative, because he/she couldn't be more liberal...

Posted by: gmh123 | April 9, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

how nice that a 90 year old is going to retire.

i don't want my 90 year old father driving let alone deciding anything other than napping now or in five minutes from now!

Posted by: perryrants | April 9, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Was talking with a very religious colleague this week. If Protestants are typically like him, it will not matter if a "Protestant" is chosen. Why? He doesn't recognize other religions and subsets of Christianity, even subsets of "Protestantism" as "real" religions... only his brand, which he considers true to biblical teaching. My guess is most true believers are similar. Lutherans won't have kinship with an Episcopalian or a Methodist or any other sect. They think they are the true keepers. In that regard, "Protestants" aren't the majority.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 9, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Should President Obama nominate from the bench or from the political branches? Vote

http://www.youpolls.com/default.asp

.

Posted by: usadblake | April 9, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

It's obvious we need someone to balance the extremist ultra-right activist Justices that Comrade Bush packed the court with.

Obviously, for balance, President Obama must choose between one of the following:

a. an atheist;
b. someone who believes in the Flying Spaghetti Monster;
c. a Wiccan.

After all, it's way overdue.

Posted by: WillSeattle | April 9, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

There will be no filibuster. Too many GOP senators with actual beliefs... like the belief that the President gets to select nominees and that if they are qualified they should be appointed. There will be MORE LIndsay Grahams this time around.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 9, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

@battleground...do you have anything new to offer besides RNC / Faux News talking points. Marxist, Marxist, Marxist...we're all a bunch of fricking Marxists to you wingnuts on the right. right?

Fact is, whoever Obama nominates to replace Stevens, Fixed News and the Teabaggers both will target the pick as a extreme left winger, whether the nominee is liberal, centrist or moderate.

Might as well pick the most liberal person in my view...

Posted by: dc1020008 | April 9, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Will Obama nominate a totally unqualified token like Clarence Uncle Thomas? Or someone who lies like Rehnquist did when asked if he ever engaged in voter suppression efforts?

Posted by: Garak | April 9, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Dinooe mentions conservative judicial activism but I do not remember his raising concerns over Liberal judicial activism which occurs regularly. Obama himself is dangerous and extreme and is trying hard to take the country in the wrong direction. It is perfectly reasonable to believe Obama will select someone who shares his leftist extreme views. Todays Gallup polls shows Democrats at their lowest level in eighteen years and Republicans now lead. This is direct evidence that a majority of American's have recognized Obamas leftist social agenda and are prepared to overturn it.

Posted by: topgun97365 | April 9, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

We need a woman on the bench.
I suggest:
Lani Guinier
Joanne Chesimard
Lynne Stewart
Margaret Hamilton

Posted by: ej_smug | April 9, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Republicans use Obama's choice of dog as proof that he is "radical", so why would they balk at a Supreme Court nomination?

With 2 nominations in a year, Obama will now have as many nominees on the bench as W, Clinton and Reagan, and more than Bush. Ford will lose his only nominee.

Posted by: AxelDC | April 9, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama might as well find the left-most justice available - that'll be the GOP narrative anyway, so there's no need to compromise with them in any way, shape, or form. This is, after all, a replacement for the left-most SCOTUS justice...

Posted by: Keystroke | April 9, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Radical idea, but wouldn't it be interesting if Obama took Leahy (Judicial Committee chair, I think) aside and told him to have Tom Coburn swing by. Obama could then explain to Coburn that he will give Coburn access for interviews with five candidates that he is considering. Coburn then gets a sitdown with Obama to review what he thought and who of the five he would most support.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 9, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Actually, simply for the pleasure of watching the GOP go into clutch-the-pearls mode, Obama should nominate Hillary...

Posted by: Keystroke | April 9, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Dionne writes, "Unfortunately, I fear that this won’t stop conservatives from trying to paint any Obama nominee as extreme and dangerous." Why, despite all evidence of the last twenty-five years, does Dionne persist in projecting onto conservatives the tactics that the left has used?

Posted by: Rob_ | April 9, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

In the longer article, did you notice ALL were born in 1960? How strange.

Posted by: khlong | April 9, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I get it. When Democrats paint conservative nominees as fire-breathing demons with blood dripping off their fangs, well, that's noble, and the good fight. But if Republicans object to liberal nominees, well, that's partisan rancor. Mr. Dionne is part of the divisiveness in this nation.

Posted by: DavidJJD | April 9, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

A liberal like Stevens will be fine and should be confirmed 100 to zip . Look for Obambi to pick a Robert Bauer type .

Posted by: borntoraisehogs | April 9, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Perfect candidate:

JAN CRAWFORD. Why?

Diversity: White, protestant (a must), grew up on Alabama farm and graduated from U of Alabama (won't THAT make Jeff Sessions feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis?!) Graduated NOT from Ivy League, but U of Chicago law school, which she attended while Obama was a prof there. (Did she have him for Constitutional Law? Is THAT a perfect ideological fit or what?) A member of the New York bar, but has covered the courts as a journalist for 23 years (Chicago Tribune, PBS NewsHour, ABC, CBS). Many have argued for decades that the Court could use a historian, and Crawford may be the best-known historian of the contemporary courts. Who needs yet another judge? (You don't even have to have to a lawyer to be on the Court.) Put someone in there who knows better than anyone what's been going on in jurisprudence.

No ideological paper trail. A woman (they're still underrepped) and YOUNG (46). What a legacy!

Posted by: threedy | April 9, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Battleground, why is it that you call the President a "Marxist?" Do you have any justification for that other than nostalgia for the good old McCarthyite days when Dixiecrats and Republicans could terrify their constituents into thinking there were Commies under their beds? Your kind was mouthing the same jibberish when Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security, when Johnson instituted Medicare, and for that matter, when Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson recognized the civil rights of blacks. I bet you're ancestors called the Founding Fathers traitors. If you want a society that never changes, try a nice Wahabi sheikdom that makes sure what is is what was.

Posted by: gratianus | April 9, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

battleground51 you are a blithering idiot. Go get yourself an education you moron.

Posted by: davidsawh | April 9, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The word "constitution" is not mentioned once in the entire piece. Go figure.

Posted by: NoWeCant | April 9, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

One liberal for another? So what. Your real fear is that an Obama nominee won't be as "progressive" as promised. Just like Sandra Day O'Connor a Reagan pick turned out not to be so conservative. I really wouldn't worry. Ironic that your concern for so-called conservative judicial activism is so acute. Why don't you call defense of the Constitution versus rewriting it judicially without amendments activism (the favorite progressive way to change the law without involving the legislature or people). Unlike HR 3200, the civil rights act had huge bipartisan support. Republicans and conservatives alike are not anti-civil rights and you are purely a distorter of facts. Socialism works until you run out of everyone else's money, time and investment to give away.

Posted by: star_key2 | April 9, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

How about Anita Hill?

Posted by: Keystroke | April 9, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

@star_key2

The Civil Rights Act had huge bipartisan support before Dixie (and their ilk) abandoned the Democratic Party just as President Johnson's predicted that they would, only LBJ was an optimist in his estimation of losing the South for one generation. Rockefeller Republicans are an extinct breed and the Dixiecrats quickly became Republicans (or, as Reagan famously put it, the Democratic Party left them), so it is entirely fair to note that today's GOP takes its lineage from those who opposed Civil Rights.

Posted by: Keystroke | April 9, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"Believe me. If Obama can find a more liberal SC pick, he will do it. Obama would like to pack the SC with Marxists just like himself.

He needs some kind of lasting legacy.

The ObamaCare stink-bomb will not be enough, for him."

Ah yes, don't have the facts, haven't read any contrary information, so I must resort to name calling. And we wonder why it's so hard to get things done in this country - people regularly confuse ideology with ideas.

Posted by: jamalmstrom | April 9, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

It seems likely that Stevens decision to retire was at least in part motivated by the desire to give the Democrats an opportunity while they have the votes to replace him with someone who will not change the balance of the court. Some Democrats seem to have a problem with respect for the rule of law. Even the President seemed leaning in that direction in his state of the union address. However, to my knowledge, nobody currently on the court has demonstrated a problem with judicial integity. The President should be able to nominate someone who can manage to sustain that tradition and still be relied on to vote with the Democratic leaning block on issues that tend to split the justices according to judicial philosophies that are more or less lined up with the political spectrum. Clearly Roe V Wade remains an intensely devisive issue. But for all the noise that has been made about some recent decisions, it is hard to see any of the recent legal decisions as serious issues on the scale of the major economic problems that likely will continue to be the President's major concern even if he manages a second term.

Posted by: dnjake | April 9, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"conservative judicial activism."

This is an oxymoron...but not surprising from the left. Only a leftie could believe that NOT being an activist judge...which all conservative judges are by nature because that's what they stand for...could someone be considered an "activist" judge.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | April 9, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

@dnjake: You're kidding, right? _Citizens United_ overturned over 100 years of established precedent (remember the promises of "stare decisis" during Roberts and Alito's confirmations?) and established law (remember the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act?) to allow unlimited corporate cash (including from foreign sources) into our elections.

THAT is where the corruption in Washington starts. Roberts is upset with Obama for calling Roberts & Co. out as activist judges.

Posted by: JamesK1 | April 9, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

@NoWeCant: the reason he doesn't mention the word "constitution" every other sentence is that the entire column is about a provision in the Constitution. It's redundant for anyone not in the Tea Party fringe to inanely say the word "Constitution" over and over without actually addressing what the document says.

@PanhandleWilly: So you're saying that it is impossible for conservative judges to be judicial activists because it's somehow contrary to definition of "conservative". Sure, we can play word games. Tell me what is our new term then when a conservative judge overturns a century of established precedent and laws duly passed by Congress and signed into law by a Republican President?

Posted by: JamesK1 | April 9, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps it's not too late to send Van Jones or Bill Ayers to law school for a few months.Certainly such an appointment would be on a par with Obama's lofty standards as demonstrated to date

Posted by: diana11777 | April 9, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to find the most left-wing, wild liberal he can !

Posted by: rbe1 | April 9, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who isn't hard right will be painted as an extremist, a socialist, a communist. That's just the way our country rolls these days. Too bad.

Posted by: curtb | April 9, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama should nominate an atheist, lesbian, woman-of-color -- which will cause a a lot of the GOP to have strokes, thereby eliminating a significant portion of the opposition.

Posted by: distance88 | April 9, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Go crazy, Barack. Find the most liberal judge you can to replace Stephens. It will help of us in November. Heck, maybe Michelle. Go for it, Barry.

Make our day!

Posted by: jpfann | April 9, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

If there is a more liberal Justice then Stevens, Barry will find that liberal. I expect a self described socialist myself so this group will feel better about themselves. I mean, feeling good about oneself trumps intelligence after all. Other wise 53% of our fellow citizens would not of cast their votes for a community organizer.

Posted by: devildogdon | April 9, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I hope President Obama picks someone as ideological and crazy (but on the left) as Thomas or Scalia. I can't wait to hear the teabaggers whine and go crazy and foam at the mouth like they always do. After the mess we inherited from Bush and the Teabag party, you'd think they would stay low ... instead they have the gaul and audacity to complain about Obama, even after he turned Bush's 6,500 Dow to 11,000, saved the country from yet another Republican-depression, and restored US prestige around the world

Posted by: LibDad | April 9, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

E.J.'s biased article could not help but make me smile. He has coined a new term "Activist Conservative". It is almost an oxymoron. Preserving the constitution and limiting change to the legal channels is not activism. If he wants to call us Constitutional Preservers, that would be accurate. My smile also came from his angst at Reps blocking a legally qualified candidate. Who started the practice E.J.? Yup, you progressives Dems and I am sure you loved it when the roles were reversed. You have an amazing capacity to have situational beliefs as you argue the opposite point.

Posted by: JCG1 | April 9, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

For the most part the general public has no interest in whatever decisions come down from the Supreme Court, but there are a very small number that catch the public's attention. As a general rule, they are of their very nature controversial. Therefore, whatever the court decides is by definition going to be controversial. If we happen to agree with whatever is decided, we applaud an enlightened court, but if we disagree, we believe that we are dealing with an activist court that is acting improperly. Sometimes as with the Warren court the conservatives in this country denounce a dangerously liberal court and today the liberals are denouncing the Roberts court. The simple truth is that the court is made up of nine individuals who are doing the best they can. Sometimes they get things right and sometimes they get things horribly wrong. On this point, I doubt that many readers of the Post would find the court acted properly in either Dred Scott or Plessey and on the other hand most readers would support Griswald. Only time will tell if the Robert's court has made sound decisions or not.
From the time of Hamilton and Madison there has been a debate in this country about the role in government in our society and this debate goes on in modern day America. I want to note that in a bad Republican year that John McCain got 47% of the vote. This means that by any reasonable standards, the current president won the election but he was not a winner in a landslide. In these circumstances, one would naturally expect a fight over whoever is nominated for the Court.
Finally, Justice Stevens was approved 98-0. Until this nomination the Senate usually gave the benefit of the doubt to the president, if he nominated someone obviously qualified for the court. The whole world changed with the nomination of Robert Bork. While one can agree or disagree about his views, no one cannot say that he was not qualified to sit on the court if you employ any objective standards. Today we are reaping the reward of the whole Bork nomination.
These are a few of the inconvenient facts that should enter the discussion.

Posted by: jeffreed | April 9, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

If President Obama nominated Sarah Palin to the court, the right would paint her as a dangerous liberal.

All they have is lies and fearmongering.

Posted by: Common_Sense_Not_Common | April 9, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to stand up on his hind legs and nominate a liberal and never apologize for it. This court needs some balance and right now the Gang of Five right wing activists dominate the court. Don't worry about GOP reaction; they will try to obstruct REGARDLESS of his appointee. Pick a pro-choice, pro-people, young leader and then fight for their confirmation. None of the 59 would dare oppose and if need be, use the "nuclear option" threatened by the GOP so often in the past. Just no more Wimpy Professor trying to get the wing nuts to support him. Be a Democrat and one with some spine.

Posted by: dolph924 | April 9, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to stand up on his hind legs and nominate a liberal and never apologize for it. This court needs some balance and right now the Gang of Five right wing activists dominate the court. Don't worry about GOP reaction; they will try to obstruct REGARDLESS of his appointee. Pick a pro-choice, pro-people, young leader and then fight for their confirmation. None of the 59 would dare oppose and if need be, use the "nuclear option" threatened by the GOP so often in the past. Just no more Wimpy Professor trying to get the wing nuts to support him. Be a Democrat and one with some spine.

Posted by: dolph924 | April 9, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I get it. When Democrats paint conservative nominees as fire-breathing demons with blood dripping off their fangs, well, that's noble, and the good fight. But if Republicans object to liberal nominees, well, that's partisan rancor. Mr. Dionne is part of the divisiveness in this nation.

==========

I note that Obama not only voted against Alito and Roberts when he was a Senator, he also voted against cloture (ie for a filibuster) on the Alito nomination. If there's a fight over his next nominee Obama can't claim the mantle of good governance to make his case. The Republicans will only be following his example of partisanship ahead of allowing the government to work as it was intended. Too bad Obama was running for president instead of being a statesman when he inhabited the senate. For that matter, too bad he's doing the same thing as president.

Posted by: robert17 | April 9, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Just like with his first USSC selection Obama will find someone with a sufficiently foul personality to appreciate fascist solutions to problems that should have been resolvable at a personal level.

The loss of Stevens is not really a loss. When folks are 91 years of age and still on the USSC you know it's some clerk doing all the work.

Justice should be done in an open and aboveboard manner. Having ghost writers do it all is far from ideal.

Posted by: muawiyah | April 9, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

JamesK1 ~ In Citizens_United Roberts et al referred back to previous decisons (stare decisis) to arrive at their ruling.

Prior rulings on the same matters may well have not accurately preserved the earlier USSC positions.

As they say, stuff happens.

Posted by: muawiyah | April 9, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Obama could pick Robert Bork and the GOP would still paint him as a radical lefty.

The GOP play-book is open for all to see: Stonewall, stall, No, no, no. It's all they're capable of.

I just hope Scalia or Thomas croaks before too long. I'm being serious.

Posted by: kurthunt | April 9, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Big surprise, hard Leftist, Dionne, expects the communist, Obama, to nominate a radically far Left candidate to SCOTUS

If we could persuade folks like Obama to move back to Kenya & Dionne back to Canada perhaps we could get down to the serious business of cleaning up the mess they've made of our country.

Posted by: LoachDriver | April 9, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

But Dionne, Justice Stevens does NOT project a "...brave and straightforward defense of civil liberties, equal rights and equal justice over many years..." Justice Stevens almost always sided against any of the Bill of Rights, and he upheld (to my knowledge) special privileges legislation which favor protections of some groups over others.

So, in summary, he has been anti-individualism and anti-equality (at least equality under the law).

I suspect the President will appoint another "Stevens" or "Ginsberg" in his place, but would be very impressed if the President appointed someone with more of a strict constructionist bent.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | April 9, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Dionne:"...having a genuine philosophical debate may not be in the interest of either the administration or the potential justice."
The way health care reform went, you can forget about a "philosophical debate" from the right, unless you count threats, distortions and slander as above board.

Posted by: bitterblogger | April 9, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Just think, when Stevens was nominated by Ford, the Republican, he was a moderate. He still is fairly moderate--it's the Republican party that has shifted dramatically rightward since then.

Posted by: chi-town | April 9, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Progressives?

Americans found out that liberals really sucked so they changed their name to progressive. Americans are finding out that progressives suck just as bad if not worse. What will be their next name?
Hell, just call them what they really are, A##holes.

Posted by: ekim53 | April 9, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

The best thing that can happen to this country is for the narrow results of the 2000 election to happen to Democrats. Then, they can quit their whining about the Bush-Gore election. Somehow I think that if the situation had been reversed and Gore had won with only the electoral votes, with the Supreme Court halting a recount, that Dionne and co. would not be so vocal about the damage such an election decision would cause to the country.

Posted by: ab_7502 | April 9, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

LoachDriver--I don't think Obama ever lived in Kenya, did he? Oh wait, I see, this is that new "non-racist" Republican party that you've all been talking about at your Tea Parties.

Anyway, I'd like to see Obama appoint another moderate Republican like Stevens.

Posted by: youba | April 9, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

"The left can either turn the other cheek as the Right takes their swings or they can fight back. That's the choice presented to us by the Limbaugh generation.

Posted by: paul6554"

Do you think that your rhetoric and mindset are any different than any of Limbaugh's dittoheads?

Spare us the hypocrisy. There is no difference between mindless partisans who whine about how mean the right is and the mindless partisans who whine about how mean the left is. The only people who don't see that both side behave exactly the same are said mindless partisans.

Posted by: bobmoses | April 9, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance to Stevens, an absolute POS liberal fascist. Unfortunately, he didn't die when he could have been replaced with someone who respects the Constitution, instead we will get another marxist America-hater like Sotomayor. These black-robed tyrants need to be made accountable by making all judges elected to limited terms.

Posted by: doctorfixit | April 10, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

"Progressives." EJ says it like a noble moniker. In fact, little hack, progressives are barely 15% of this country. And their activism of late, stewarded by your delusional Dear Leader, will result in one of the greatest electoral massacres of recent memory come this November. I hope you never recover EJ, you feckless shill. Your ideology is bad for people and bad for this country. Good riddance to Stevens, and soon, good riddance to you.

Posted by: subframer | April 10, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

"Progressives." EJ says it like a noble moniker. In fact, little hack, progressives are barely 15% of this country. And their activism of late, stewarded by your delusional Dear Leader, will result in one of the greatest electoral massacres of recent memory come this November. I hope you never recover EJ, you feckless shill. Your ideology is bad for people and bad for this country. Good riddance to Stevens, and soon, good riddance to you.

Posted by: subframer | April 10, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

to all "progressives", socialists, BHO-worshipers, assorteed DIMocRAT losers,

WHEN you get the FILTHY, stinking, KLANSMAN, Robert "KKK" Byrd, DIMocRAT of WV, OUT of the DIMocRAT party & toss him out with the trash, on his PREJUDICED ear, maybe i'll listen to your FOOLISH, SELF-righteous, sanctamonious drivel about anything else!

BUT until then, i'll just RIDICULE you & remind every reader that you are HATE-filled, arrogant, ignorant race-baiters & HYPOCRITES!

those, who TOERATE a KLANSMAN in their ranks, are just as EVIL as he IS!

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 11, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

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