Posted by: edsohn | October 7, 2008

Electing The Supremes

Sorry for my hiatus, I’ve been away from the country for a while and just getting back into the rhythm of things.  You can see more from my trip at .

Erwin Chemerinsky, widely considered one of the most brilliant minds in constitutional law, wrote a short piece for the L.A. Times regarding the impact of the presidential candidates on the Supreme Court.  He touches on jurisprudence on several keystone issues, like abortion (Roe v. Wade), affirmative action (Gruttinger v. Bollinger), and due process for political prisoners held in places like Guantanomo Bay (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld).

These are the live issues of this generation.  The Supreme Court’s behavior is probably far more predictable than projecting a potential president’s performance, filled with nuance and management styles and specific contexts.  But because of the rigidity of form in the American judiciary, the Supreme Court is a body whose rulings, complex and dicta-filled though they may be, have direct impact on our lives.

The President, although he is the chief executive, does not single-handedly decide economic policy.  And though he is the commander-in-chief, he does not command platoons and decide military strategy by himself.  The President’s role is probably best summed up as being an intelligent decision-maker at critical moments, the Face of America to all Americans, and the 24/7 ambassador to the world.

Please consider what it is that you’re voting for.  Read the Chemerinsky article above, and also educate yourselves on the Supreme Court.  The legacy of most Presidents that is often forgotten or not attributed is the legacy of those members of the highest bench who make decisions for years to come.  Consider that with possibly three seats opening up (Stevens is 88, Ginsburg is 75, and Souter is 69; Breyer is also 70), all progressive jurists, their replacements will likely be of similar age to their recently appointed colleagues (Roberts is 53, Alito is 58; Thomas is only 60, as well).  Understand that each of these judges will be 4 or possibly 8 years older during the term of the next president.

This is the weight of this election: not only the fearless leader who inherits a country full of economic and foreign policy crisis, but the Constitutional appointer of a substantial body of the Supreme Court will make a tremendous difference for years after his term.

Please, choose.  Exercise your choice, and please choose wisely.


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