Prof. Ken Bode Outlines Democrats' "Nightmare Scenario" in US Supreme Court
July 15, 2005
July 15, 2005, Greencastle, Ind. - "In somewhat unprintable phrasing, Richard Nixon once said that if a president is not irritating his base, he is not accomplishing all that he might," begins today's Indianapolis Star op-ed column by Ken Bode. DePauw's Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism continues, "As he prepares to send up a name to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, President Bush is hearing daily from the core of his base, the Christian right. The Supreme Court, they say correctly, will be an enduring legacy of his presidency. Their legal watchwords are strict construction and original intent. Translated into more meaningful parlance, that means a nominee who is demonstrably correct on abortion, stem cells, affirmative action, religious issues and same-sex marriage."
If Chief Justice William Rehnquist soon follows Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in announcing his retirement from the high court, "Bush will have two appointments, with the possibility to stretch it to three. This is how it could happen. First, the president irritates the base and pleases Karl Rove by using the O'Connor vacancy to nominate Alberto Gonzales, the first Hispanic," Dr. Bode writes, noting that Gonzales "is the nominee the Christian right fears most. His credentials are suspect on both abortion and affirmative action and conservative leaders have responded quickly and critically to the possibility he might be chosen."
The professor, former senior political analyst at CNN, asserts, "President Bush knows and trusts Alberto Gonzales" and that he would likely be quickly confirmed. "With Gonzales safely in place, Justice Rehnquist could retire. This second selection is where the president begins to pay off his base. His two logical choices to replace the chief are already on the court, the two justices Bush most admires, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Liberals are alert to this possibility. People for the American Way, which plans to spend $18 million on a confirmation fight, has warned that a court led by Thomas or Scalia could overturn 100 Supreme Court precedents."
Bode believes Thomas, 12 years younger than Scalia, would emerge as the new chief justice. "With the Thomas seat open, the president has his third Supreme Court vacancy. This is where the Christian-conservative base reaps its full reward. Surely Bush would meet his own litmus test by choosing a faithful copy in the Scalia-Thomas mold. According to the conservative formula, this new associate justice needs to be at least as conservative as Rehnquist and more conservative than O'Connor. To keep the peace at home, Bush might also follow Laura's advice and appoint a woman."
In conclusion, Bode states, "Supreme Court appointments are one part of a presidency that endures into history. If he follows the game plan outlined above, Bush will put an indelible stamp on the Court and go a long way toward shaping his own legacy. This, of course, is a nightmare scenario for liberals and Democrats. But Karl doesn't care."
Read the complete essay at College News.org.Back