Michelle Obama Is Right

by Carrie Severino

The Blog of the Legal Times reported yesterday that Michelle Obama raised the importance of judicial appointments at a campaign fundraiser over the weekend. According to the BLT:

Obama, who practiced law as an associate at Sidley Austin in Chicago, emphasized that the appointments will likely have long-lasting and wide-ranging effects. “Let’s not forget,” she said, “the impact that their decisions will have on our lives for decades to come — on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and love whoever we choose. That is what’s at stake in this election.”

She is right. We don’t need actuarial tables to tell us that the next president will make plenty of consequential appointments. And, on the Supreme Court, we have seen time and time again that just one vote can determine the outcome of the most important cases. 

In the near-term, just one vote on the Court could decide all the things Mrs. Obama alluded to: whether abortion rights shrink or expand, to what extent courts can second-guess presidential war powers, how far the government can go in restricting political speech, how far the government can go in dictating how churches manage their internal affairs, and whether a right to same-sex marriage is written into our Constitution. And she didn’t even mention the upcoming blockbuster question: whether the federal government can compel individuals to purchase health insurance and, by extension, any other imaginable product.

In the next election, the American people will get to decide whether they want judges who have promised to to apply the text and original meaning of the Constitution, or whether they want judges who decide cases on the basis of “empathy” for parties identified for preferred status by the president. 

Bench Memos

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