|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
David Hackett Souter had only been on a federal appeals court bench for a few months when he was tapped to replace liberal lion William Brennan, a choice many Republicans hoped would move the high court rightward and reshape American law.
"I think that is good news for all of us who are committed to the Constitution of the United States," said President Bush. "He'll be a superb justice for the Supreme Court."
In reality, Souter was in many ways a typical, old-fashioned Yankee Republican -- a moderate with an independent, even quirky streak. Whether he became more liberal in his views after joining the Supreme Court, as many conservatives believe, may depend on your politics.
"Justice Souter will never escape the label of having been an enormous disappointment, a traitor to the right," said Thomas Goldstein, a Washington appellate attorney and founder of Scotusblog.com. "It instead created the opportunity to entrench a series of more liberal rulings. So he became the right's greatest failure and we will forever hear the mantra 'No More Souters' from conservatives."
Colleagues dismiss suggestions that liberal colleagues on the bench helped move Souter to the left.
"I find that incredibly unbelievable," said Rebecca Tushnet, a former Souter law clerk and professor at Georgetown Law Center. "He was faced with different issues on the Supreme Court than he was as a state official. A Supreme Court justice requires you to make different decisions, ones that aren't always consistent with your politics. And remember the Republican Party of Nixon is a different party than the one we have today, and we have a number of judges who came out of that earlier Republican Party who may not be in line with the priorities of people in power in Republican circles today."
I do think that, to my Republican friends, I want them to realize that me reaching out to them has been genuine. I can’t sort of define bipartisanship as simply being willing to accept certain theories of theirs that we tried for eight years and didn’t work and the American people voted to change. But there are a whole host of areas where we can work together.
And I’ve said this to people like Mitch McConnell. I said, look, on health care reform, you may not agree with me that we should have a public plan — that may be philosophically just too much for you to swallow. On the other hand, there are some areas, like reducing the cost of medical malpractice insurance where you do agree with me. If I’m taking some of your ideas — and giving you credit for good ideas — the fact that you didn’t get a hundred percent can’t be a reason every single time to oppose my position. And if that is how bipartisanship is defined — a situation in which, basically, wherever there are philosophical differences I have to simply go along with ideas that have been rejected by the American people in a historic election, we’re probably not going to make progress.
Labels: Supreme Court