21 Jul 2008

Liberals Find Supreme Court Too Conservative

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The Washington Post tells us that liberals are suffering from SCOTUS envy.

It could be seen as the sincerest form of flattery: Ask some activists on the left the kind of Supreme Court justice they would like to see a President Obama appoint, and the name you hear most is the same justice they most often denounce.

They want their own Antonin Scalia. Or rather, an anti-Scalia, an individual who can easily articulate a liberal interpretation of the Constitution, offer a quick sound bite and be prepared to mix it up with conservative activists beyond the marble and red velvet of the Supreme Court. …

as the Supreme Court takes its traditional spot in the background of the presidential campaign, there is a longing on the left for a justice who would energize not only the court’s liberal wing, but also the debate over interpreting the Constitution.

“Someone with vision,” said Doug Kendall, who recently helped found a new liberal think tank called the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Someone who looks hard at the text and history of the Constitution, as Justice Scalia does, and articulates a very clear idea of how that text points to liberal and progressive outcomes.”

“It is a court with no true liberal on it, the most conservative court in 75 years,” said Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught constitutional law. “What we call liberals on this court are moderates, or moderate liberals, if you want to get refined about it.”

Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and David Souter aren’t liberals?

Heck, liberals don’t even need to win presidential elections to get liberal Supreme Court Justices appointed. Conservative Republican presidents will appoint some for them.

Speaking more seriously, though, I think our friends on the left are missing the point. They are on the defensive on the Court, not really because of a paucity of kindred spirits, but because they have, for decades, been losing the battle of ideas in jurisprudence and Constitutional Law at the law schools and in the law journals.

Face it, what liberals really want is a return to an uncritical era of legal intuitions, emanations, and emotional sloganeering. They want the William O. Douglas and Earl Warren kind of “no brainer” liberal court decisions which merely use a few orotund generalities to raise the consensus of the liberal elite to the status of law of the land.

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