• author
    • Tom McMasters-Stone

    • February 20, 2016 in Columnists

    Hillary or Bernie — are they Supreme beings?

    For the last 40 years, I have read about and researched extensively the United States Supreme Court — its traditions, its history, its scandals.

    Along with the selection of a Pope, the process of replacing a Justice has long fascinated me, and we are in the middle of that process again — maybe. If you believe the GOP, again abrogating their responsibility, we are not in the “middle” of anything, have not, and will not, even get started.

    Some of the history is fascinating — in fact, most of it!

    We all know now that Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were fast friends, despite some very basic ideological differences. I’m not sure there has been anything like it in our times, except maybe Mary Matalin and James Carville falling in love and getting married!

    Both pairs, as you can find on YouTube, have been hysterical when they’ve gotten together on the same TV or cable show.

    Did you know that there is no such animal as “Chief Justice of the Supreme Court”? He (so far, only “he”) is officially designated the Chief Justice of the United States.

    As I’ve written about before, perhaps, the most popular Justice ever amongst the employees and staff of SCOTUS is Clarence Thomas, the guy who has not asked a question during oral arguments for the last 10 years.


    He’s been fabulous at remembering names, being attentive, celebrating birthdays, keeping track of their family members and routinely played basketball with the minions before his knees would not allow it.

    In an interesting demographic, there are no Protestants on the Court — we’re now down one Catholic, leaving five, along with the three Jewish members. As much as we hear about the Founding Fathers, most of them would have been horrified to see the Court dominated by “Papists.”

    I have created a kerfuffle before by pointing out that Catholics have at least some allegiance to a foreign government, the Vatican, and one has to question if they come into oral arguments about the death penalty, abortion, gay marriage and contraception as truly objective arbiters.

    So, the games begin. What is the best approach for the POTUS?

    Can POTUS nominate himself? There’s nothing in the Constitution prohibiting it. Likely? No.

    Next, he should look to the Senate — given the traditions of that body, and their “own” status amongst the 125 most-powerful people in the world, they would feel it very awkward not to elevate one of their own, let alone not even convening the process.

    Elizabeth Warren. She would serve for a long time, would actually help unify a polarized Democratic Party and would leave a legacy for the ages.


    OK, here we go: What about Hillary or Bernie? Hillary would still be considered one of their “own,” and Bernie is, and the person left standing would almost certainly become POTUS next January.

    Think about that? Really. Stop and think about it. A swing vote on the Court, and POTUS in one swell foop? Brilliant? Perhaps…

    Orrin Hatch has been mentioned, as have other moderate Republicans that are pro-choice. No! For the last eight years, they have stalled, dithered,and fiddled, and not only did Rome not burn, it didn’t catch fire, and has recovered nicely from being Bush-whacked.

    NO! As Martin Sheen said to Michael Douglas, “You fight the fights that need fighting! Go after (them)!”


    Universal Pictures photo

    So, if he hasn’t decided by now, after the Senate, where for thou go? To the fork in the road.

    Attorney General Loretta Lynch would be the first African-American woman to sit on the Court, and Republicans would be self-immolating to reject her or treat her harshly.

    The other fork in the road is to sitting members of the Federal bench. There are several candidates there who were confirmed unanimously or overwhelmingly, including the eighth Circuit’s Jane Kelly or Srikanth Srinivasan of the D.C. Court. Once unimpeachably qualified, how can they say no just a few years later?

    So, there is a brief road map and minor history review.

    I like Hillary or Bernie — if we’re going to battle, as we most definitely should, there’s no sense bringing a knife to a gunfight.

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • February 20, 2016 at 9:50 pm
      • Reply

      There’s a reason the phrase “may you live in interesting times” was an ancient Chinese curse 😉

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