Sunday, June 05, 2005

The next Chief Justice

Rumor has it that Bush will nominate Tennessee Senator Mitch McConnell. McConnell is best know for his virulent opposition to campaign finance reform, a process he has more or less single-handedly managed to block in the Senate for years.

McConnell seems likely to be confirmable, not least because despite being virulently anti-abortion, he's also studiously avoided going on the record about whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned -- at least, I have so far found nothing where he claims to want to see it overturned. This gives him plausible deniability for nomination fight.

Is this the guy they want to have a fight over? It's worth noting that McConnell has also been leading the charge to get the filibuster overturned.

Here's some constitutional trivia: as a sitting senator, would he get to vote on his own nomination to the Court?

Update: Oops, that would be Michael McConnell, not Mitch. And him... he's just flat-up unacceptable.


Anonymous said...

No, Michael not Mitch McConnell. Michael McConnell is a former law professor and current federal judge who, though an originalist and a religious conservative, is respected by some liberal law professors (eg, Cass Sunstein). No doubt, liberal groups will oppose him, but in his prior confirmation hearings he did say that Roe was "settled law." So perhaps he will be placated. In general, however, he will vote reliably conservative on major issues (notably federalism and religion).

zachawry said...

I was getting confused there.

As a rule of law, does the nominee have to be a sitting justice, or even, say, have a JD?

Nils said...

My mistake on mixing up the McConnells...

But to answer Zak's question, anyone can be nominated to the Court (constitutionally, anyway). For example, William Howard Taft, the former President (1909-1913), became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1921 -- although he had been a federal judge before he became President.

An even better example is Earl Warren, arguably the most influential Chief Justice since John Marshall: Warren's jobs prior to becoming Chief Justice were Attorney General and then Governor of California. His effectiveness in crafting much of the jurisprudence that today forms the bedrock of contemporary civil rights case law no doubt owes a great deal to his experience as a politician.

Nils said...

On the voting for oneself issue, I investigated the issue, and there's nothing that says you can't legally vote on your own nomination, although ethical rules hold that you should recuse yourself.