The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Supreme Court’s ideology not in jeopardy

Since Justice Steven’s announced his retirement, there has been a lot of talk about Obama appointing a “liberal justice.” Liberals rejoice, conservatives balk, but what else should we expect? I would like to inform both sides of one thing: that they need to pipe down.

Obama doesn’t really have a lot to gain by making this appointment. He won’t achieve any of his more liberal goals by appointing a liberal justice because Stevens is the most liberal justice on the Court, and even if Obama did somehow get someone just as liberal as Steven’s through the confirmation process, he would just be maintaining the status quo.

So, regardless of what Obama does he will most likely be maintaining the five conservative, four liberal balance of the Court. People are too quick to rush to assumptions about how the Court is going to be “way too liberal” now that Obama has appointed two justices, and will most likely be appointing a third (and maybe a fourth) if Ginsberg chooses to retire because of her health or Kennedy decides to retire because of his age while Obama is in office.

Justices tend to maintain the balance of the Court by choosing their own retirement time. They are appointed for life, so it makes sense that they should retire when a president who holds their same ideology is in office. Thus, conservatives get replaced with conservatives and liberals get replaced with liberals.

Really, the only time you could make a drastic change to Supreme Court ideology is if a justice that holds the opposite views of a standing president were to drop dead. Then the president could have a field day appointing someone exactly opposite of the late justice. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you feel about the Supreme Court), this rarely happens.

Also, President Obama doesn’t exactly have a lot of political capital right now. If you have access to any sort of device that collects information from the outside world, you have probably been familiarized with Obama’s recently realized dream of health care reform.

Well, heath care reform has basically been a black hole for all of Obama’s political capital, so even if he wanted to push someone extremely liberal through confirmation, he just doesn’t have what it takes to do so.

Also a side effect of health care is that now all Republicans are out for blood. It is unlikely that anyone would make it through the confirmation process unscathed even if there had not been recent political upheaval, but now that conservatives are basically upside down with rage, anyone with any scent of liberal on them will probably be torn to shreds.

Because democrats don’t have a super majority, this republican blood-hunt will probably result in a more moderate justice.

So, with his selection, Obama might actually make the court more conservative. I find it hard to believe that someone as liberal as Stevens (who, by the way, I love) would make it through the confirmation process, and so Obama will probably be looking for a more moderate justice to fill his soon-to-be-vacated seat. And while this might disappoint some and surprise others, the Supreme Court, to be sure, will stay just about the same as it is now. 


Jessica Huseman is a sophomore journalism and political science double major. She can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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