Bench Memos

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ConfirmThem’s Interview of Jan Greenburg


I agree with Jonathan that the first part of ConfirmThem’s interview of Jan Crawford Greenburg is an interesting read, and I look forward to the remaining two parts.  I’ll add a couple observations:


1.  Greenburg identifies as top contenders for the next Supreme Court vacancy during President Bush’s term Janice Rogers Brown, Maureen Mahoney, Miguel Estrada, Maura Corrigan, Diane Sykes, Priscilla Owen, and Edith Brown Clement.  I believe that one of the top two lessons that everyone should have learned from the processes to fill the Rehnquist and O’Connor vacancies is that quality counts.  In particular, a highly qualified nominee carries a special force that helps him or her get past bumps that would dislodge lesser candidates.  With this lesson in mind, I would make, in alphabetical order, these (non-exhaustive) additions to Greenburg’s list of contenders:  Frank Easterbrook, Edith Jones, Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, and Jeff Sutton.


2.  Greenburg anticipates that the White House’s political calculations would change the closer we get to 2008.  She may well be right, but I hope not.  The second big lesson that everyone should have learned from the 2005 nominations is that in the battle between liberal judicial activism and principles of judicial restraint, principles of judicial restraint have overwhelming appeal across a broad swath of the American public.  For reasons outlined here, I believe that all of the individuals listed in item 1 could win majority support from the current Senate in 2007 or 2008.  Moreover, if Senate Democrats resorted to the unprecedented use of the filibuster as a partisan tool against a Supreme Court nominee—which would be especially odd for a majority party to do—I can imagine no better issue for Republicans for framing the 2008 elections.  President Bush accomplished a historic feat in nominating and appointing two strong judicial conservatives to the Court in the space of seven months.  If he is presented the opportunity to fill another vacancy, he should look for a similar candidate.


Tags: Whelan


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