Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mitt Romney’s Judicial Advisor: Robert Bork

I’m really short on time and the election is getting close. So I wanted to be sure that I had a chance to post something that I think is incredibly important … and largely overlooked. But due to time constraints, I’m largely going to have to let others do the talking for me.

One of the most critical issues to me, when I’m looking at the Presidential race, is the Supreme Court (and, to a lesser extent, lower federal courts). Though it isn’t discussed much during the campaign, the President’s power to appoint justices to the Court is one of the most important powers granted to a President and is, almost without doubt, the longest lasting legacy of any President’s term in office.

The current makeup of the Supreme Court is worth noting:

John Roberts, appointed by George W. Bush, 57 years old

Antonin Scalia, appointed by Ronald Reagan, 76 years old

Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan, 76 years old

Clarence Thomas, appointed by George H.W. Bush, 64 years old

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed by Bill Clinton, 79 years old

Stephen Breyer, appointed by Bill Clinton, 74 years old

Samuel Alito, appointed by George W. Bush, 62 years old

Sonia Sotomayor, appointed by Barack Obama, 58 years old

Elena Kagan, appointed by Barack Obama, 52 years old

Thus, three of the sitting Justices are 76 or older (and another is 74); of those, one (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) has recently been treated for pancreatic cancer. Three of the judges have been on the bench for at least 20 years (by next year, that number will rise to four and by the next Presidential election, five).

In all likelihood, the next President will get to appoint at least one (or as many as four!) Justices to the United States Supreme Court. Depending on those appointments, the balance on the Court could shift dramatically. Perhaps even more importantly, because an appointment to the Supreme Court is for life and because the recent trend has been to nominate younger judges, it is quite possible that the balance between liberal and conservative on the Court could be locked in for thirty years or so.

Now, obviously, Presidential candidates don’t tell us who they intend to choose for nomination to the Supreme Court. But we can usually tell something about the types of judges that they would appoint. So, by way of example, we can look at President Obama’s two choices: Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. We can examine their backgrounds and we can examine their voting records as Supreme Court Justices.

Mitt Romney, by contrast, doesn’t have a history of judicial appointments for us to examine. Instead, he has the man that he’s named his Judicial Advisor: Robert Bork. So, to get an idea of the type of judges Mitt Romney might nominate (beyond his blanket statement that he prefers judges like Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas … the entire solidly conservative block of the Court), we should look at the record and opinions of his chosen Judicial Advisor.

Now take a few moments and watch that video again. That is the man that Mitt Romney will be listening to when, if elected, he is given the chance to nominate judges to federal benches, including the Supreme Court. And that terrifies me.

As I said at the outset, I’m short on time. I had hoped to write a more in depth examination of Judge Bork’s positions. The video above helps to set the stage for what I don’t have the time to do. If you want a more detailed analysis of Judge Bork’s positions (and, presumably, what will be whispered into Mitt Romney’s ear), then take the time to read this report published by People for the American Way: Borking America.

bork-cover The very notion of a President taking legal or judicial advice from Judge Bork chills me to the very core. And I hope you feel the same. Overturning Roe v. Wade would be but an appetizer to the far-right social reengineering and reimagining of our Constitution that Romney-appointed Justices might do. It would be right-wing judicial activism on steroids. Please don’t give Mitt Romney the chance to listen to Robert Bork and nominate federal judges that could so dramatically change our nation and society.

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