11 July 2013

The importance of a single vote -- and of ours

Recently we've had Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage (very good) and on the Voting Rights Act (very bad).  The striking thing about these was that all the rulings were 5-to-4.  A single judge voting differently could have saved the VRA -- or dashed the hopes of countless Californians and seriously blunted the momentum toward national acceptance of gay marriage.  Last year's decision upholding Obamacare was also 5-to-4.  We need a secure majority.

One side or the other is going to get that majority.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of "our" justices, is now 80.  Antonin Scalia, perhaps the worst of "theirs", is 77.  Anthony Kennedy, often a swing vote, is 76.  All three will likely retire during the term(s) of President Obama's successor.  Imagine how much more secure freedom and progress in this country would become if the replacements for all three were to be chosen by a Democratic President.  Now imagine the likely consequences if it were by a Republican.

The point is that a Democrat, any Democrat, will be vastly better on Supreme Court appointments than a Republican, any Republican.  Obama is exasperatingly centrist for the taste of many progressives, but Kagan and Sotomayor have been reliable, and it's impossible to imagine McCain or Romney choosing them or anyone remotely like them.  Pretty much any plausible Republican in the White House after 2016 would mean three more Scalia types on the Court, stifling progress for decades to come.  Pretty much any plausible Democrat in that position would mean we would never again have to worry about another abomination like the VRA ruling.  (Besides, think of all the wingnut heads exploding at the sight of a Democratic President, even a moderate, choosing Scalia's replacement -- I want to watch that!)

No matter who our 2016 nominee is, there will be people insisting that he or she is not good enough on one issue or another, and loudly threatening to stay home or throw away their vote on a third candidate.  Such people are fools.  Don't listen to them.  Remember what's at stake, for far longer than just eight years.

6 Comments:

Blogger Kay Dennison said...

Weii said!!! I'm probably hoping against hope that Obama gets to appoint a couple new ones.

11 July, 2013 07:35  
Anonymous Bacopa said...

Obama's judicial appointments are the only reason I still like him

But who do the Democrats have? Biden is way too old. Hillary is almost too old and has a lot of baggage.

The Dems need a young dark horse in 2016. Carter was an outsider in 1976 as were Clinton and Obama in "92 and 2008.

The DNC featured the Castro twins on keynote night to indicate they wanted Texas to become the mother of all swing states, but I think the best the Castro twins can hope for is one as TX governor and one as US senator. Not much hope there.

Another Texas politician to watch out for is Houston Mayor Annise Parker. She is standing for her 3rd and final term as mayor this year. She will win, but the Harris County Green party is hoping to force her into the weird posse runoff system we have here.

Parker is a long shot. Her tale of being forced out as a lesbian in the late 70's works well in Houston, but won't get her respect in the rest of Texas.

Lot of buzz about Wendy Davis as a governor candidate especially since Perry is stepping down. Is Davis ready to run for President? I'd back her.

12 July, 2013 21:23  
Anonymous emily said...

I don't know if this will disturb or entertain you (or both), but here, have this link for the Justice Death Calculator:
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/01/supreme_court_justice_death_calculator_find_out_the_probabilities_that_different.html

13 July, 2013 05:19  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

This is THE most important issue facing this country. Remember what happened with the vote on the ACA last summer?

There's no question that justices like Scalia and Thomas are disgustingly biased--most of Scalia's biases are influenced by his religion--neither of them is fit to sit in judgment on important issues that require a clear eye on the facts, not religious dogma.

13 July, 2013 06:06  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Kay: Good point. Obama still has three years. For Ginsburg, at least, the decent thing to do would be to retire while there's still time for him to fill her spot, just in case.

Bacopa: Hillary will be younger than McCain was in 2008, and most polls show her trouncing any opponent, for whatever that's worth so far ahead of the election. The nomination's hers if she wants it.

I'm afraid an out lesbian as Presidential candidate is still too risky for this country. I like Davis, but does she have anything big going for her other than that one star-turn filibuster?

My own first choice for President would be Elizabeth Warren, but I'm not sure how she'd go down with the national electorate.

More to the point, perhaps -- whom do the Republicans have? I'm not impressed with their field.

Emily: Thanks. I suppose it could be considered a tad tasteless, but it's an important issue.

Shaw: Unfortunately, with today's Republicans, everything is about religious dogma. That's why I say a Republican President pretty much guarantees more Scalia types on the Court.

13 July, 2013 09:29  
Anonymous Bacopa said...

I totally agree that Parker can't play nationwide, though she still might be able to grab a US House seat after her third and last term as mayor which she will surely win next year. I'm actually backing the Harris County Green Party and hope that we can peel off enough votes from the left to force a runoff. We have a weird non-partisan multi candidate voting system here in Houston that never happens when there are state or national elections. Turnouts are low, but the people who really care get to decide. Greens have a chance here.

Houston mayors have a pretty bad record in Texas politics. Bill White, fighter of hurricanes, did poorly against Perry last election. Dude had cred: Great mayor, green energy supporter, Clinton appointee back in the early 90's, and his wife was a famous porn novelist. Didn't play statewide. Parker would do even less well. Still, I like her because I can say that Texas has a gay mayor of the largest city in the world that has ever had a gay mayor.

I am totally in the draft Wendy Davis for TX governor camp.

I will totally support Hillary if she runs. I'd like to see one of the Castro twins go for the gold but I think it will be 4-8 years before one of them can make it.

Elizabeth Warren is my ideal candidate for president. I'd love to see a fellow University of Houston alum in the White House.

14 July, 2013 19:38  

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