Supreme Court Retirement Reminds Us That Elections Matter

I remember when Barbara Streisand was making the case for Al Gore's presidential run, she said "Supreme Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court". Al Gore did not become president and in twist of fate it was the Supreme Court that made George W. Bush president.

Streisand was right, the Supreme Court is one of the main reasons to elect a president.

Now, with a Supreme Court that leans very much to the right, it is important to make sure there is some balance. I was horrified when just a couple of weeks ago Justices Scalia and Thomas voted against the majority and issued opinions that a criminal lawyer who gives bad advice is not responsible for the collateral damage caused to the client. In this case a client pled guilty but his lawyer failed to tell him that he would be immediately deported after having lived legally in the United States for 40 years. I wonder how these Justices -- who believe that they are interrupting the Constitution in what they consider a "strict" manner -- sleep at night.

We elected a president who taught constitutional law and who has a different reading of the law than Justices Roberts and Scalia, Thomas and Alito. Retiring Justice Stevens has been a liberal judge but he did not start out that way.

Stevens began his Supreme Court career as a pro-death penalty supporter and has evolved on this and many other issues.

That is great from my perspective, but Obama can't take a chance on a real middle of the road candidate.

He must choose someone who can get through the Senate’s "Advise and Consent" process and still keep to a more broad and "little guy" view of the law.

Hopefully, he will nominate Elena Kagan. President Obama has already said he is going to nominate someone similar to Justice Stevens with an independent mind, and an "understanding of how the law effects the daily life of the American people."

Kagan, who hired conservative faculty members as Dean of Harvard Law School and has a short paper trail, that wouldn’t be much for GOP Senators to go after would be a perfect nominee.
The Republicans got their guys in under George Bush and the same lack of a long paper trail was used to get the nomination through.

At least, I hope so, because that's why I voted for Barack Obama. It matters who our president is -- especially when it comes to the Supreme Court.

Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.

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