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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Obama's Choice to Replace Souter

Whom will the president nominate to replace Justice Souter? During a debate among Democratic candidates on November 15, 2007, he said:
I would not appoint somebody who doesn't believe in the right to privacy. But you're right, Wolf. I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it's not just the particular issue and how they ruled. But it's their conception of the court. And part of the role of the court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don't have a lot of clout. And part of what I want to find in a Supreme Court justice -- and Joe's exactly right. Sometimes we're only looking at academics or people who've been in the courts. If we can find people who have life experience, and they understand what it means to be on the outside, what it means to have the system not work for them, that's the kind of person I want on the Supreme Court.

At a campaign appearance in Indiana several months later, he expanded:

Where there's a clear legal precedent, I think it should be followed. But where the Supreme Court really matters is on that five percent of cases, two percent of cases, where there's no clear precedent and the law is ambiguous. And the question then becomes: what kind of values does a Supreme Court justice bring to those issues? And what I really believe is that the Supreme Court has to be, first and foremost, thinking about and looking out for those who are vulnerable in our political system: people who are minorities, people who have been historically discriminated against, people who are poor, people who have been cheated, people who are being taken advantage of, people who have unpopular opinions, people who are outsiders. And the reason that's important is because powerful people -- insiders -- they typically already control the other two branches of government. They have access. They will get their laws passed. What you need from the Supreme Court is somebody who's willing to look out for those who don't have power.

That's not to say that I want the Supreme Court to be ruling in favor of the powerless all the time because sometimes the powerless may be wrong. Sometimes a minority group or somebody who is trying to change the system may not be going about it the right way.

Video here: