Hillary Clinton becomes US foreign minister

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Hillary Clinton becomes US foreign minister

Postby Moonbiter » Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:57 pm

It wasn't exactly a bomb to those of us who bother to follow international news, but I still find it interesting. It has to be one of the worst positions currently available in the US government, so I would like to hear some thoughts on it.
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Postby Nightmare » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:09 pm

Well, she's the likely person that's going to be chosen by Obama...it hasn't been confirmed yet, as far as I know (it'll probably happen on Monday). I imagine she'll get confirmed by the Senate easily.

She's definitely more a hawk than either John Kerry or Bill Richardson (two other names that were floated), but she's still got the Clinton name and that should help her a bit in repairing relations around the world. It also gets her heavily involved in the administration, which should seal up any remaining divisions within the party.

Secretary of State is undoubtedly usually one of the most important picks, but I'm more interested to see who will be chosen for Treasury Secretary, which is probably going to have the toughest job ever. I think the odds on favourite is [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Summers"]Larry Summers[/url].

EDIT: I'm wrong, actually. Clinton is definitely going to the be the nominee, she's apparently accepted the nomination. Also, the Treasury Secretary is going to be Tim Geithner, who's the President of the New York Fed. Reserve. Also, Bill Richardson is being tapped to be the Secretary of Commerce.
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Postby Kaer » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:02 pm

I remember reading a while ago that it was expected that Hillary would be taking the seat as Foreign Minister, which shouldn't be a surprise, given what she's bringing to the table and other recent events. So I guess I'm more "Oh, so it's official" more than anything.

This forum has a high proportion of America-related politic threads, which is mildly concerning. :laugh: Not that American threads are bad, more concerning that there's a high politics to other ratio. ;)

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Postby Siberys » Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:08 pm

Oh god, run for your lives people!!!!!!!

Oh....wait, like Obama being president this isn't nearly as bad as people might think.

In any case, I figured Hillary would groan and moan about losing the primaries until Obama was guilt tripped enough to put her somewhere in the white house.
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Postby VonDondu » Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:23 pm

By "US Foreign Minister", I presume you mean US Secretary of State. It's a prestigious position, but I can't imagine why anyone would give up a seat in the U.S. Senate for it, especially someone like Hillary Clinton, who could probably keep her seat for life if she wanted to and who could potentially have as much influence in the Senate as someone like Ted Kennedy (whom I do not admire on a personal level, but who undeniably has great stature in the Democratic party). Secretary of State is not a position from which Senator Clinton could continue to pursue her dream of being President of the United States, so maybe her acceptance means that she is giving up that ambition. But I don't know if we'll ever understand exactly what she's thinking.


Kaer wrote:This forum has a high proportion of America-related politic threads, which is mildly concerning. :laugh: Not that American threads are bad, more concerning that there's a high politics to other ratio. ;)

American political issues are currently on many people's minds all over the planet, so it gives us something to talk about. As for the ratio you mentioned, there aren't many other message threads in SYM these days. Unfortunately, I think it means we don't have much else to talk about. Personally, I'm a bit preoccupied with financial and economic matters these days, but I don't think it's helpful to talk about such things on message boards.

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Postby Kienan » Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:29 pm

Hmm, nice weather today... :D
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Postby rmemmett84 » Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:21 pm

Since qualifications was bandied around so much during the actual election I am curious what qualifies her to be Secretary of State?
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Postby Siberys » Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:00 pm

rmemmett84 wrote:Since qualifications was bandied around so much during the actual election I am curious what qualifies her to be Secretary of State?


Her husband. He's a pimp, and extremely persuasive.
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Postby Claudius » Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:48 pm

Did she remarry snoop doggy dogg? No I think being a Senator of New York might be some part of the experience. Not that I know what it takes to be a secretary of state.
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Postby fable » Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:57 pm

The Secretary of State could potentially exercise a helluva lot more prestige and power than being in the US Senate, however nice the latter is. As Secretary of State, Clinton would work with Obama in formulating *all* foreign policy. Henry Kissinger was probably the second most powerful figure in the Nixon White House; by contrast, Colin Powell was one of the weaker members in King George's, because George only gave him the job to marginalize the general for the reelection. (At least, that's what many people said at the time, and have said, since.) I suspect Clinton would work closely with Obama and exercise a great deal of control, because otherwise she wouldn't bother taking the job. She also has a chance to come in and quickly make a profound, positive impression with a lot of world leaders who have had to deal with a powerless Powell, and lying Rice, and an inadequate Bush all these years.
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Postby VonDondu » Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:17 am

fable wrote:The Secretary of State could potentially exercise a helluva lot more prestige and power than being in the US Senate, however nice the latter is. As Secretary of State, Clinton would work with Obama in formulating *all* foreign policy. Henry Kissinger was probably the second most powerful figure in the Nixon White House; by contrast, Colin Powell was one of the weaker members in King George's, because George only gave him the job to marginalize the general for the reelection...

Condi has also been a pretty marginal figure, due to the fact that Cheney has always been in charge of the Bush administration and Condi is not on his team. (I think Powell was a marginal figure for the very same reason.) But I'm sure that the Obama administration will be much different than the Bush administration, and Obama's Secretary of State might actually have the opportunity to do her job. (For what it's worth, I don't think Condi could have done a good job even if she'd had the chance. She has never been able to coordinate more than one office at a time, and she was a lousy National Security Advisor.)

It's true that a Secretary of State can potentially exercise more power than a U.S. Senator (and that's normally the case). However, Secretaries of State do not stay in power for very long. The last four Secretaries of State (including Condi) each served for four years. James Baker served nearly one full term before stepping down to help run the elder Bush's re-election campaign. George Schulz served nearly two full terms (following the snafu with Alexander Haig), and a few others have served in excess of six years (mostly in times of war, if I recall correctly). But generally speaking, we're talking about a period of time that's less than one full term in the Senate. A powerful Senator can stay in office (and make a difference) longer than any President or Cabinet member. Clinton could be a Senator for life, and if I were in her position (as difficult as it is to imagine something like that), I don't think I'd be willing to give that up.

But who knows, maybe Hillary will get another chance in the Senate after her term as Secretary of State is over. If neither seat is open in the state of New York, then I suppose she could change her state of residence again and run for Senator somewhere else.

By the way, have there been any rumors that Obama might appoint Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court when a vacancy becomes available?

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Postby fable » Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:47 am

VonDondu wrote:It's true that a Secretary of State can potentially exercise more power than a U.S. Senator (and that's normally the case). However, Secretaries of State do not stay in power for very long.


From Clinton's perspective, that's a plus. Remember, she craves the position of president. What does she stand to gain from being Secretary of State? She'll be stocking and managing the entire foreign policy and relations apparatus for the United States. On top of her years as a senator, if she comes out of this on top she'll have street cred on foreign matters that are virtually untouchable by any possible Congressional opponent.

A powerful Senator can stay in office (and make a difference) longer than any President or Cabinet member. Clinton could be a Senator for life, and if I were in her position (as difficult as it is to imagine something like that), I don't think I'd be willing to give that up.


As Lincoln noted, "Once you get bit by the presidential bug, you can't stop running for the job." Like you, I would hold onto the senatorial position. But this is a matter of ambition, conviction, and emotion, not logic. Clinton repeatedly stated during her run that she put everything into her bid, and the presidency was meant to be hers.

By the way, have there been any rumors that Obama might appoint Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court when a vacancy becomes available?


My opinion? Not a chance in hell. :D I've no idea where that rumor is coming from, but it makes no sense. Clinton has no expertise or even experience as a Constitutional lawyer. Obama in fact *does* have that--he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago--as well as a level of intellectual acuteness that Clinton has never demonstrated. I suspect that simply from his knowledge of his colleagues around the nation, Obama already has several possibilities lined up.
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Postby VonDondu » Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:36 am

fable wrote:My opinion? Not a chance in hell. :D I've no idea where that rumor is coming from, but it makes no sense. Clinton has no expertise or even experience as a Constitutional lawyer...

Months ago, when Hillary was running for President, there was speculation in the Wall Street Journal that Hillary, if she won the Presidential election, would appoint her husband to the Supreme Court. It was repeated in various outlets such as CNN. It was just speculation (and you are welcome to question their motives and/or their logic), but those are the voices a lot of people listen to.

I was just wondering if there was any speculation that Obama might nominate Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court. It has been widely reported that the Clinton camp leaks like a sieve, but the Obama camp is practically air-tight. But I don't think that would stop speculation; it would only make it more difficult to prove.

Concerning qualifications for the Supreme Court, most Supreme Court Justices never specialized in constitutional law. Most specialized in administrative law, business law, or criminal law, and a few specialized in civil rights. Many served as law clerks, and most but not all of them have previously served as judges in some capacity (usually as federal judges), where they dealt with various types of cases. Some have worked in the Justice Department or in the offices of various attorney generals around the country. Many have had some political experience. And of course, nearly all have had law degrees.

Bill Clinton has a Juris Doctor degree from Yale in law, he was a law professor at the University of Arkansas, and he was the Arkansas Attorney General for two years before he served as governor for twelve years. If he is seeking a position on the Supreme Court, his biggest shortcoming is that hasn't been a judge, but I don't think that makes him totally unqualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. He has also nominated a few Supreme Court Justices, if that counts for anything. :) Oh, and he was also President of the United States for two full terms, which you have to admit is a unique qualification for someone who is looking for another job in government.

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Postby Tricky » Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:18 am

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Postby VonDondu » Sat Nov 22, 2008 11:02 am

By the way, there has also been some talk about appointing Bill Clinton Ambassador to the UN. I can't remember where it got started, but I first heard about the speculation about a year ago (long before Obama won the Democratic nomination and Presidential election).

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Postby fable » Sat Nov 22, 2008 11:18 am

VonDondu wrote:Months ago, when Hillary was running for President, there was speculation in the Wall Street Journal that Hillary, if she won the Presidential election, would appoint her husband to the Supreme Court. It was repeated in various outlets such as CNN. It was just speculation (and you are welcome to question their motives and/or their logic), but those are the voices a lot of people listen to.


There are a lot of neo-cons, arch-conservatives, and Republicans who simply loathe the Clintons, and have been spitting bile at them for years. The worst thing Clinton ever did, according to them, was to "steal" the presidency for 8 years during which they were supposed to achieve complete ascendancy over the federal government. The things that were said and written by the most august and supposedly reputable of sources--that the Clintons hired assassins to rub out their enemies in Arkansas; that Hillary had numerous interracial affairs, and abortions; that Bill ran the American branch of the Mafia--are simply amazing. I personally dislike Bill Clinton intensely, and Hilary only slightly less so. Neither belongs in my Top 1000 people who deserve to be president. (But then, nobody truly deserves to be president. The post has too much power.) I wouldn't even investigate a single rumor about either of them, however. And the idea that tight-lipped Hillary would actually discuss with anybody the possibility of appointing her husband to the Supreme Court is among the silliest things produced by the anti-Clinton machine.

I was just wondering if there was any speculation that Obama might nominate Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court.


No.

Concerning qualifications for the Supreme Court, most Supreme Court Justices never specialized in constitutional law. Most specialized in administrative law, business law, or criminal law, and a few specialized in civil rights. Many served as law clerks, and most but not all of them have previously served as judges in some capacity (usually as federal judges), where they dealt with various types of cases. Some have worked in the Justice Department or in the offices of various attorney generals around the country. Many have had some political experience. And of course, nearly all have had law degrees.


But consider the context. First, we have an activist Supreme Court that has repeatedly ignored Constitutional precedent. One of the justices, Scalia, has gone on record as stating that if something is "wrong" in the law, it needs to be changed, and the courts provide an easy way to amend the Constitution without going through the tedious proceedings of a lengthy national and Congressional review. (This is astonishing. Not only the saying of it, but the attitude for a serving justice on the Court.) Second, we have an executive branch that has literally walked all over the Constitution, stealing powers whenever Bush wanted, and getting away with it because the Department of Justice was stocked with raw recruits and old cronies, while the Supreme Court was in his pocket.

It's just my opinion--as good or bad as any other--that Obama will seek experts in Constitutional law as a result, to move the Supreme Court back into a position of respect for law and a certain element of traditional continuity that Bush deliberately throttled while in office.

Bill Clinton has a Juris Doctor degree from Yale in law, he was a law professor at the University of Arkansas, and he was the Arkansas Attorney General for two years before he served as governor for twelve years. If he is seeking a position on the Supreme Court, his biggest shortcoming is that hasn't been a judge, but I don't think that makes him totally unqualified to be a Supreme Court Justice.


It's definitely a major handicap. Most Supreme Court justices have made their life careers as lawyers, law professors, and serving judges. Clinton taught law for 3 years and was an attorney general for two. His lifetime career of several decades has been in politics.

He has also nominated a few Supreme Court Justices, if that counts for anything. :)


Nope. :D

Oh, and he was also President of the United States for two full terms, which you have to admit is a unique qualification for someone who is looking for another job in government.


Unique, yes. :) But offhand, I don't recall any US President over the centuries serving in later years as a Supreme Court justice. The closest thing to it I suppose would be Salmon Chase, Lincoln's old rival for the presidency, a very sententious and moralizing hypocrite but an extremely able bureaucrat, who made a fine Secretary of the Treasury and then was appointed to the Supreme Court. But he never got the presidency, which is what he wanted to the end of his life.
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Postby VonDondu » Sat Nov 22, 2008 11:57 am

VonDondu wrote:He has also nominated a few Supreme Court Justices, if that counts for anything. :)


fable wrote:Nope. :D

Well, if Bill Clinton was ever involved in a close election, his buddies on the Supreme Court might step in to stop the recount. They owe him one. (It has been known to happen, you know.)


fable wrote:But consider the context. First, we have an activist Supreme Court that has repeatedly ignored Constitutional precedent. One of the justices, Scalia, has gone on record as stating that if something is "wrong" in the law, it needs to be changed, and the courts provide an easy way to amend the Constitution without going through the tedious proceedings of a lengthy national and Congressional review. (This is astonishing. Not only the saying of it, but the attitude for a serving justice on the Court.)...

It's just my opinion--as good or bad as any other--that Obama will seek experts in Constitutional law as a result, to move the Supreme Court back into a position of respect for law and a certain element of traditional continuity that Bush deliberately throttled while in office...

It's definitely a major handicap. Most Supreme Court justices have made their life careers as lawyers, law professors, and serving judges. Clinton taught law for 3 years and was an attorney general for two. His lifetime career of several decades has been in politics.

I'm sort of killing two birds with one stone here. What about Chief Justice Earl Warren? He spent decades in public service as district attorney, state attorney general, and state governor (and he was Thomas Dewey's Vice Presidential running mate), but I don't think he ever served as a judge before being appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was expected to be a conservative jurist, but he surprised everyone (that's putting it mildly) by being one of the most activist judges in history, notoriously invoking the power of judicial review.

Scalia is actually a "strict constructionist" who (ironically) wants to use the power of judicial review to undo the changes in national law that were made by "liberal activist judges" (like Earl Warren in particular) who in his opinion overstepped their authority.

What is "respect for law" and "traditional continuity" if we can't agree on which precedents should stand? Unfortunately, the answer is clouded by a battle between competing ideologies.

I suppose we could always resort to "litmus tests". But I think recent history has made clear that judicial appointments are also made on the basis of payback as much as anything else. Earl Warren (appointed by Eisenhower in return for his political support) and John Roberts (the Bush family counsel) come to mind. I doubt that Obama made any explicit deals with the Clintons, but there are good reasons to speculate that they might have an "unspoken understanding" that Obama owes the Clintons something for their support during his campaign. If you're reading tea leaves... :)

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Postby fable » Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:42 pm

VonDondu wrote:I'm sort of killing two birds with one stone here. What about Chief Justice Earl Warren? He spent decades in public service as district attorney, state attorney general, and state governor (and he was Thomas Dewey's Vice Presidential running mate), but I don't think he ever served as a judge before being appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was expected to be a conservative jurist, but he surprised everyone (that's putting it mildly) by being one of the most activist judges in history, notoriously invoking the power of judicial review.


I knew you'd bring Warren up! I had a bet with my wife. :) But Warren is a remarkable exception, who was brought into the SC in large part because of his extraordinary ability to find consensus and support from both major political parties. He was supposed to please everybody (though as you note, he didn't.) The only thing guaranteed about a Clinton SC nomination, on the other hand, would be the howls of outrage from the entire Republican party and large portions of the Democratic establishment, who still loathe him for a variety of reasons. So the single reason Warren was brought onto the bench--his unique support from everywhere--is exactly the opposite of what Clinton would bring.

Scalia is actually a "strict constructionist" who (ironically) wants to use the power of judicial review to undo the changes in national law that were made by "liberal activist judges" (like Earl Warren in particular) who in his opinion overstepped their authority.


I think you mean Scalia has said he's a strict constructionist, who wants to undo changes etc, etc. ;) Since several of the decisions he's written have nothing to do with the Warren court, however, but only his own social conservativism, it can be reasonably argued that he sometimes pursues a completely personal agenda on the bench.

What is "respect for law" and "traditional continuity" if we can't agree on which precedents should stand? Unfortunately, the answer is clouded by a battle between competing ideologies.


Please reread my context. I mentioned traditional continuity and respect for law within the framework of how the federal government is structured and operates, not how the Supreme Court interprets. As such, respect for law means just that. It means that if you control the Department of Justice, you can't fire serving state attorneys on the basis of differing party affiliation, as the Bush administration was proven to have done repeatedly. It means you can't arrest a Canadian coming across the border because their name is Arabic, and send them to an Iraqi prison where they are tortured for "information." It means you can't lie to Congress when you're serving, and avoid being held in contempt because you hire the hack who controls the Department of Justice, who in turn literally refuses on the record to acknowledge Congress' Constitutional rights to check the federal branch. It means you can't sign hundreds of bills into law and then declare while doing so that you are only signing parts of these bills, or are changing the wording of each bill. This is again expressly against the US Constitution. There's no "clouded battle between competing ideologies." There's rule of law, and there's ignoring and changing it when you stack the entire government in your favor. I'm all for shades of gray, but that's not the case, here. Not at all.

I suppose we could always resort to "litmus tests". But I think recent history has made clear that judicial appointments are also made on the basis of payback as much as anything else. Earl Warren (appointed by Eisenhower in return for his political support) and John Roberts (the Bush family counsel) come to mind. I doubt that Obama made any explicit deals with the Clintons, but there are good reasons to speculate that they might have an "unspoken understanding" that Obama owes the Clintons something for their support during his campaign. If you're reading tea leaves... :)


The SC has never been a place to reward one's political backers. Even Bush didn't do that. It's a place where you put philosophical fellow travelers. Political backers get ambassadorships. I wonder if Bill is brushing up on his French or Spanish? ;)
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Postby fable » Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:01 pm

A couple of other quick points.

Bill Clinton has a Juris Doctor degree from Yale in law, he was a law professor at the University of Arkansas...


Serving as a professor of law at the University of Arkansas is not the same thing as serving as a professor of Constitutional law at the University of Chicago. Obama had a specialty in this area, and the U of C is ranked among the finest law schools in the country--Law School 100 ranks it in a tie for third, behind Harvard (first) and Stanford/Yale (tied for second). The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville is prestigious and highly regarded, but came in 85th. To me, this means that Obama probably has a better understanding in great detail of the constitutional mess that has been made by the Bush administration, than Clinton, and the importance of having an SC that can assist in its cleanup through legal clarification.

On the matter of Warren, I would only add that he joined the SC more than 50 years ago, and has been long gone from it. As a political appointee, he was an aberration. Far more typical is the current lineup of 9 justices, whatever one may think of their individual political philosophies. Only Thomas stands out for his lack of juridical experience, and even he had far more to offer from a legal point of view than Clinton:

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Breyer: Clerk to the Honorable Arthur J. Goldberg, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, 1964-1965. Harvard University; Assistant Professor, 1967-1970; Professor of Law, 1970-1980; Professor, Kennedy School of Government, 1977-1980; Lecturer, 1980-present. Visiting Professor, College of Law, Sydney, Australia, 1975; University of Rome, 1993. Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, December 10, 1980 (nominated by President Carter); Chief Judge, 1990-1994; Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, August 3, 1994 (nominated by President Clinton); Member, Judicial Conference of the United States, 1990-1994; Member, U.S. Sentencing Commission, 1985-1989. Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General (Antitrust), Department of Justice, 1965-1967; Assistant Special Prosecutor, Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973; Special Counsel, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Administrative Practices, 1974-1975; Chief Counsel, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 1979-1980.

Ginsburg: Clerk to the Honorable Edmund L. Palmieri, United States District Court, Southern District of New York (1959-61). Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure: Research Associate (1961-62), Associate Director (1962-63); Rutgers University School of Law: Professor (1963-72); Columbia Law School: Professor (1972-80); Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford, California): Fellow (1977-78). Faculties visited: New York University School of Law (Spring 1968), Harvard Law School (Fall 1971), University of Amsterdam (Summer 1975), University of Strasbourg (Summer 1975), Salzburg Seminar in American Studies (Summer 1984), Aspen Institute (Summer 1990). American Civil Liberties Union: Women's Rights Project, Founder and Counsel (1972-80); General Counsel (1973-80); National Board of Directors (1974-80). Other affiliations include: American Bar Foundation Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Secretary (1979-89), American Bar Association Journal Board of Editors (1972-78); ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Council Member (1975-81); American Law Institute, Council Member (1978-1993); American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow (1982-); Council on Foreign Relations (1975-).

Kennedy: Admitted to California bar, 1962; U. S. Tax Court bar, 1971; Associate, Thelen, Marrin, John & Bridges, San Francisco, 1961-63; sole practitioner, Sacramento, 1963-67; partner, Evans, Jackson & Kennedy, Sacramento, 1967-75. Professor of constitutional law, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, 1965-1988. Nominated by President Ford to U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; took oath of office May 30, 1975. Nominated by President Reagan as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court; took oath of office February 18, 1988.

Scalia: Admitted to the Ohio Bar, 1962, Virginia Bar, 1970; in private practice with Jones, Day, Cockley and Reavis, Cleveland, Ohio, 1961-67. Professor of law, University of Virginia, 1967-74 (on leave 1971-74); scholar in residence, American Enterprise Institute, 1977; visiting professor of law, Georgetown University, 1977; professor of law, University of Chicago, 1977-82; visiting professor of law, Stanford University, 1980-81. Nominated by President Reagan to U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; took oath of office August 17, 1982. Nominated by President Reagan as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court; took oath of office September 26, 1986.

Souter: Associate Justice, New Hampshire Superior Court, 1978-1983; Associate Justice, New Hampshire Supreme Court, 1983-1990; Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, 1990; Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, 1990. Maine-New Hampshire Interstate Boundary Commission, 1971-1975; New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council, 1976-1978; New Hampshire Governor's Commission on Crime and Delinquency, 1976-1978, 1979-1983; New Hampshire Judicial Council, 1976-1978.

Stevens: Clerk to the Honorable Clerk to the Honorable Wiley Rutledge, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, October 1947-July 1948. Admitted to Illinois Bar, 1949. Associate, Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson and Raymond, Chicago, Illinois, 1950-1952; Partner, Rothschild, Stevens, Barry and Myers, Chicago, Illinois, 1952-1970. Lecturer, Antitrust Law, Northwestern University School of Law 1950-1954; University of Chicago Law School, 1955-1958. Nominated by President Nixon to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, succeeding Elmer J. Schnackenberg, confirmed by the United States Senate on October 14, 1970; and took oath of office on November 2, 1970. Nominated by President Ford as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on December 1, 1975; confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 1975; and took oath of office on December 19, 1975.

Thomas: Admitted to Missouri Bar 1974. Attorney, Monsanto Company, 1977-1979. Assistant Attorney General of Missouri, 1974-1977; Legislative assistant to Senator John C. Danforth of Missouri, 1979-1981; Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1981-1982; Chairman U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Com mission 1982-1990. Nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit: took oath of office, March 12, 1990. Nominated by President Bush as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court: took oath of office October 23, 1991.
To the Righteous belong the fruits of violent victory. The rest of us will have to settle for warm friends, warm lovers, and a wink from a quietly supportive universe.

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VonDondu
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Postby VonDondu » Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:23 pm

fable wrote:I knew you'd bring Warren up! I had a bet with my wife. :)

What did you win? :)

fable wrote:The SC has never been a place to reward one's political backers. Even Bush didn't do that. It's a place where you put philosophical fellow travelers. Political backers get ambassadorships. I wonder if Bill is brushing up on his French or Spanish? ;)

My college professors have a different view. I read Earl Warren's memoirs back in high school, so I thought I knew something about the man, but my professors told me to take some of the things he said with a grain of salt. In trying to look good to everyone, he had a tendency to talk out of both sides of his mouth (although he was less oily than most politicians--a bit dull, in fact, by most accounts). Anyway, it was pretty clear at the time that Warren made a deal with Eisenhower. Warren himself was interested in running for President in the Republican primaries, and he stepped down so that Eisenhower could win the Republican nomination. When Eisenhower's Vice Presidential running mate, Richard Nixon, got into some sort of fundraising scandal, Warren campaigned for Eisenhower to help repair some of the damage. Deal-making and sharing the spoils is what politics is all about, so not only it was no big secret, it's really no big deal, either.


fable wrote:Please reread my context. I mentioned traditional continuity and respect for law within the framework of how the federal government is structured and operates, not how the Supreme Court interprets. As such, respect for law means just that. It means that if you control the Department of Justice, you can't fire serving state attorneys on the basis of differing party affiliation, as the Bush administration was proven to have done repeatedly. It means you can't arrest a Canadian coming across the border because their name is Arabic, and send them to an Iraqi prison where they are tortured for "information." It means you can't lie to Congress when you're serving, and avoid being held in contempt because you hire the hack who controls the Department of Justice, who in turn literally refuses on the record to acknowledge Congress' Constitutional rights to check the federal branch. It means you can't sign hundreds of bills into law and then declare while doing so that you are only signing parts of these bills, or are changing the wording of each bill. This is again expressly against the US Constitution. There's no "clouded battle between competing ideologies." There's rule of law, and there's ignoring and changing it when you stack the entire government in your favor. I'm all for shades of gray, but that's not the case, here. Not at all.

I'm afraid I don't understand what you meant by "Constitutional precedent". Here's my understanding. Our legal system is descended from English common law, which uses previous court decisions to establish basic principles of law (in addition to statutory law). When new cases are decided, statutes are often referred to, but most decisions make use of principles established by previous decisions. That's "common law". We also have a federal constitution, federal laws enacted by Congress, executive orders enacted by the President, individual state constitutions, and state and local laws. The federal constitution outlines the basic structure of the federal government, defines a few generalized duties, and puts certain restrictions on federal and state powers. Most laws in this country that affect people's lives are enacted at the state level, and the federal Constitution doesn't have much to say about them unless a particular law violates a constitutionally protected right. Judicial review is a power that is invoked when a court wants to overrule a law enacted by another branch of government on the basis of a "higher norm", whether that means a principle that is specifically stated in the Constitution, a principle that is "evident" in the Constitution based on a new interpretation of the Constitution, or a principle that is sort of wedged into the Constitution wherever the court can make it fit (such as a wacky interpretation of "search and seizure").

Modifying the Constitution through Amendments is an arduous process, to say the least, so it is true that the easiest way to modify existing law is to reinterpret the Constitution and overturn the "landmark" cases that have put new legal principles into effect. For example, the "separate but equal" doctrine which was defined by rulings such as Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned by the new ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. As a result, segregation became illegal when it had been perfectly legal before. Most people have heard of Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman's right to an abortion based on a "penumbral" right that the Court declared exists in the Constitution even though the Constitution does not explicitly say so. As a legal precedent (constitutional or common law, take your pick), Roe (as it is called for short) has the full force of law, and no law may be enacted by any state that violates the constitutional right described in that ruling. If Roe is overturned, the "penumbral" right found to exist by that ruling will no longer exist, which will have a significant effect on the law of the land.

The U.S. Supreme Court plays a vital role in our constitutional democracy. But there are limits to what the Supreme Court can do. For example, the Court can only make decisions in cases that are brought before it, and only if the Court has jurisdiction. The Court cannot do anything about Bush's executive orders and "signing statements" unless they are challenged in court. The legislative branch of government has the power to investigate the actions of the President, but we all know what has happened during Bush's tenure (or rather, what HASN'T happened). Checks and balances are meaningless unless the involved parties actually choose to exercise their powers.

Anyway, with that background information in mind, I'm not sure how we got into this discussion. :) I was talking about the qualifications of Supreme Court Justices, and then you said that we have an activist court that ignores Constitutional precedent and that Justice Scalia in particular wants to change want he thinks is "wrong" in the law. I responded by asking (rhetorically) how we are supposed to determine which precedents should stand, and you responded by making the case that the Bush administration has no respect for the rule of law (with which I totally agree). I'm just not sure where we're going with this. :)



By the way, I just glanced at your list of the qualifications of each of the current Supreme Court Justices. Lots of law-clerking and attorney-generalizing there, but not as much judging as you might expect, especially when you look at guys like Thomas and Roberts.

By the way, I never said that Bill Clinton is highly qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. I'm just saying he's not as off the wall as you might think. Expecially not compared to someone like Harriet Myers (who was roundly criticized by just about everyone). :)