The Ideology of the Court

One element consistent of the political processes since the Warren court is the cultural wars. This ideological conflict really came to prominence during the conservative vs. liberal debates regarding gender, race, and religion in the 1920s. Moreover, the same arguments hold true for the decade of the 1950s and the 1980s. With the retirement of Justice Stevens from the Court, both the left and the right have armed themselves for conflict; I am not sure why.

If the Court is supposed to be a neutral arbiter of the Constitution, then why did the Framers construct a system that allows a partisan official of ideological disposition to make such a selection? I would hope that my students would answer this question by stating that during the construction of the Constitution, there “technically” were no political parties; however, even that answer would not be wholly sufficient, seeing that the process of drafting the Constitution was in and of itself an ideological conflict between Federalist and Anti-Federalist. This division shaped much of the political conflicts throughout the 1790s.

So, I ask the question, why go to arms over a presidential appointment to the Court? According to the Constitution:

The power to appoint Justices belongs to the President under the Constitution (Article II, Section 2). The “advice and
consent” of the Senate is required for any Supreme Court appointment. The Senate Judiciary Committee conducts
hearings to question nominees and determine their suitability. Thereafter, the whole Senate considers the nomination; a
simple majority vote is required to confirm or to reject a nominee. In some instances, the Senate may defeat a nominee
by failing to take a final vote on the nominee, rather than by explicit rejection. For example, the minority may filibuster
a nominee, indefinitely prolonging debate and refusing to permit a vote.

Thus, since this is the case, the Framers constructed a system in which an ideological figure has the power to appoint a person to uphold the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, but others who might not hold that position can check his/her powers to appoint.

I am hoping the president will appease the base that elected him by selecting Diane Wood to the bench; I like the fact that she is a woman, but I also like that she holds the intellectual understanding that the Constitution is a document for all Americans. It is important that groups that hold their own ideological positions do not work against that of others. I am a fan of the Bill of Rights and believe they are not in place to deny the rights of Americans, but to protect those rights. And yes, that means the rights of religious fundamentalist or those who are in the KKK; we cannot pick here.

The United States is a plural society. The joy of pluralism is that it offers an array of diverse views. A Muslim should have the same rights as that of a Christian, as noted in the 1st Amendment. A justice should be one that looks to uphold all aspects of the Bill of Rights. If Obama fails to select Wood to the Court, many will see him as a weak president.


7 thoughts on “The Ideology of the Court

  1. I too am hoping that Obama will nominate Diane Wood. However, I do not think that he will – nominating such a liberal judge could be dangerous for both midterm elections and Obama’s reelection. He is trying to please moderates right now to maintain the majorities in the house and senate, as seen with his recent drilling proposal. I am a bit upset with him at the moment, he is moving too far to the center for my tastes. Even the healthcare bill that was recently passed is far more moderate than the one he initially proposed.

  2. Elections have consequences, and I agree he should nominate whomever he feels is the best qualified. I would probably not agree with many of her interpretations of the Constitution, but as long as the nominee (whomever he/she eventually is) has never been a part of some anti-US organization, I don’t really see a problem.
    Of course I’d be for Obama appointing, say Ron Paul, but we know that will never happen. Either way, as Mrs. Chili said, it should be an interesting summer.

  3. …”I like the fact that she is a woman…”. Can you be any more naked than saying that being a woman is a good qualifier for the bench? Pure and simple, that is sexist. Why do you feel men are deficient? If women are as capable as men at everything, then why would being a she, matter. I guess the recent appointee Sotomayor, would say ” womans intuition” brings a unique experience”. That would be sexist. Unless the great big hypocrisy is at play again and ideology trumps the effects of the Racism/sexism/anything-ism charge.

  4. In a world dominated by men, I am very pro-women; I do not find this sexist at all. Just a reality. I also find women to be a bit more progressive — especially those that have ascertained greater academic credentials and are of the academic type. Men are capable; however, placing a woman will further keep the balance of perspective in mind.

  5. We have had three female justices on the United States Supreme Court, while we have had 108 males on the bench. I believe that the makeup of the supreme court should reflect the population, and currently it doesn’t – as there are more women in our country than men. However, this is an issue of mine with all legislative bodies – not just the courts. But I do not think it is wrong for President’s to give preferential treatment to women and minorities when appointing justices.

  6. I guess I favor women over men due to their inherent understanding and sympathy for others; it seems they have greater compassion when it comes to the law than that of men. I might just be kidding myself.

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