Bench Memos

Pamela Harris: The Warren Court Wasn’t Liberal Enough

This is the third post in a series about President Obama’s latest nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Pamela Harris. (Here are parts 1 and 2.) So far we’ve seen that Harris will be highly prone to “abortion distortion” and believes that judges should view the law and the Constitution through her liberal political views. 

But it’s not just abortion and miscellaneous liberalism that’s troubling about Harris. Here’s what Harris said about criminal procedure at a 2009 panel introducing a book that she had edited: 

I sometimes wonder whether when we think about someone like Chief Justice Warren . . . whether we almost have, by now, a stunted sense of what the legal choices really are, what really is a liberal legal outcome, whether we sometimes almost think circularly: Well, if Chief Justice Warren came out that way, that must be as liberal as it gets, whether we’re reasoning backwards a little bit. . . . And so I worry that sometimes when we look back, particularly at the work of the justices in the 1960s and 1970s, there’s almost an inclination to assume that must be as liberal as it gets. That’s not right! I think that we’ve stunted the spectrum of legal thought in a way that removes the possibility that there could have been more progressive readings of the Fourth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment. [emphasis added]

Yes, that’s right, President Obama has nominated someone who believes the Warren Court was too conservative.  

Jonathan KeimJonathan Keim is Counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and Princeton University, an experienced litigator, and ...


The Latest