The Reason Hillary Clinton Earns My Vote For President
This presidential election was not the issue-orientated one the times demand. The average voter will not walk away this year with any sense of a deeper appreciation for the complexity of the choices that lie ahead for the economy, education, health care, or international policy. When most people cast a ballot in November a rush of general feelings and perceptions will determine their decision. For myself there has been one over-riding issue that has guided me as the election season progressed.
I still recall my civics teacher, Mr. Winn, who in high school pressed the fact that presidents are ever mindful of the lasting fingerprint they make on history by the justices they place on the Supreme Court. With the death of Justice Scalia earlier this year, and three sitting members of the court aged 78-83 means there is a high probability the next president will be allowed a court legacy. (Long time readers to this blog will forgive me it I mention President Nixon placed four members on the court and did so in under three years.)
Helping to shape and alter the arc of history so that it bends in a more just and equitable fashion is something a president has a direct role in creating. There is no doubt that President Eisenhower who had a military career that literally helped save Europe can also be lauded for his selection of Earl Warren to the court. With that decision this nation that had once known the outcome of the Dred Scott case to be the law felt the power of progress with the unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.
Political leaders fully understand the gravity of who sits on the court. That is why a total rejection of allowing President Obama to have another nominee, Merrick Garland, considered in the senate was seen as a must by Republicans. Objective minds saw the move as purely partisan, as there was a year left in Obama’s term and the GOP move was without precedent. But what drove the Republicans to make such an audacious power play was clear to see.
The make-up of the court is at stake in this election and as Winn would say there is ample opportunity for a fingerprint to be pressed upon the pages of history from the one who takes office next January.
There is only one person running for president who has the resume, experience, intelligence, and the grasp of history suited for the task of selecting nominees to the Supreme Court. That person is Hillary Clinton. I do not say this based on her party affiliation as I consider the importance of the court to be higher than partisan desires. I base my support for her on the fact she understands the Constitution has endured because of its flexibility. That flexibility comes from those who have helped shape the court and render decisions about the laws of this country. With that as a foundation I expect Clinton to select jurists who know the Constitution is a living document.
The alternative views are that the Constitution should only be seen through the eyes of originalism or textualism, and that is simply baffling. The Founding Fathers were wise not to tie down future generations with lots of specifics. They understood the nature of what they were doing and knew their experiment in a new Republic would demand latitude to make it work. The very broadness and generality of the Constitution demands that a reasonable series of reflections and additions be allowed and made. The history of the court shows how judges have worked to expand, explain, and elaborate upon rather terse wording from the work of the Founders.
Not only does this nation require keen insight for Supreme Court picks but there is also a dire need to make sure lower courts are filled with competent judges. The idea that vacancies should linger in congress due to political snits is not good for the ones the courts are set up to serve. Why this matters for those seeking a more just and equitable nation can be seen from what has happened over the past two terms of Obama.
Nine appellate courts–out of the thirteen–now have Democratic-appointed judges who dominate numerically. When Obama was first inaugurated that number was only three appellate courts. How does this relate to the Supreme Court, you ask? More cases are coming up to the Supreme Court through a process where liberals have already weighed in and prevailed at the lower level.
A liberal majority on the court would have a drastic impact on matters relating to elections–from voter ID, to redistricting, and campaign monies. It would put brakes on the erosion of affirmative action, control fights over abortion, and limit the erosion of an understanding between church and state. Citizens United would surely be re-examined with a new case.
Liberal views can once again be seen as a realistic outcome from Supreme Court rulings with the election of Hillary Clinton. What made Americans pleased during the Warren Court can again be the way we view law and progress in America.