October 17, 2012

Obama vs Romney — does #SCOTUS really matter?


Obama and Romney at the second debate./Photo via New York Times.
For Democrats in general, and Obamiacs in particular, when they run across a progressive to left-liberal third-party voter (Green, though not a registered party member) like me, there’s one guaranteed final combination argument and plea they trot out to tell me why I absolutely, positively must vote Democrat.

And, it’s the “who do you want nominating Supreme Court justices” rhetorical question. If that alone isn’t enough, I can guarantee you that if the bare rhetorical question isn’t enough, that Roe v. Wade will be trotted out.

Well, let’s address that first.

First of all, I’m not a single-issue voter. And, I’m probably in that great muddled middle of Americans.

Ideally? If we didn’t have the current Supreme Court, I’d like for a “test case” before SCOTUS to wind up junking the trimester system and replacing it with a bimester one. In the first bimester, states would be able to impose no restrictions. (And, outside the court arena, a liberal president and Congress would get the cojones to start Medicaid funding again.) BUT … in the second bimester, I would be open, within narrow parameters, to giving states MORE control than they have now.

So, appealing to Roe v. Wade won’t worm your way into the cockles of my heart.

Other hot-button social issues?

Sure, Romney and Obama will differ on abortion. And gay rights. And women's rights. Of course, even there, we probably need to “nuance” the issue of how much disagreement they may have. That’s because we’re not sure what the hell Romney believes on most social issues, and Obama was for gay marriage back in the 1990s, before he was against it for a decade, before he became for it again.

So, those social issues? Not so hot button. And, on gay rights, unless Romney went way off the board, as long as he nominates someone younger than 55, he’s not likely to get a Scalia or Alito on this issue, but rather an Anthony Kennedy.

So, let’s look at other issues.

They'll allegedly differ on Citizens' United, but, isn't it strange that in two presidential debates and one by the Veep candidates, neither Obama nor Biden has mentioned it? And, let’s not forget that Democratic National Procurer Vernon Jordan paraded Obama before Wall Streeters way back in 2003 to get their USDA prime seal of approval. 

And, Jordan did exactly that:
Drawing on his undoubted charm, wit, intelligence, and Harvard credentials, Obama passed this trial with shining colors. At a series of social meetings with assorted big “players” from the financial, legal and lobbyist sectors, Obama impressed key establishment figures like Gregory Craig (a longtime leading attorney and former special counsel to the White House), Mike Williams (the legislative director of the Bond Market Association), Tom Quinn (a partner at the top corporate law firm Venable and a leading Democratic Party “power broker”), and Robert Harmala, another Venable partner and “a big player in Democratic circles.”
And that’s part of why Obama won’t really mention Citizens United, won’t really regulate the banksters., etc. Well, that and having a $500,000 “checking”account with Jamie Dimon and überbank JP Morgan.

So, any business regulation issues that the Supreme Court tackles? Not a lot of difference.

Free trade? Obama’s bashing of Romney for hypocrisy in China-bashing aside, they’re both ardent free traders. The rare case in this area that goes before SCOTUS? No difference.

But, let’s get to the meat of possible upcoming SCOTUS cases, certainly the meat for social libertarians.


Let’s talk the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. (More on the latter later this week, in specific.) Let’s talk civil liberties, because the Court has two cases in which it could further gut civil liberties.

And, speaking of civil liberties, how many “sting operations” like the one thatresulted in an arrest today of an alleged terrorist have also bent and folded civil liberties?


In cases like this, about civil liberties, where Obama the man who has out-Bushed Bush on anything related to the War on Terra and (on medical marijuana) the War on Drugs, and Romney the Mormon goody two-shoes do-gooder, will agree 110 percent.

And, let’s look at something near and dear to me — First Amendment issues. And let’s not forget that this amendment covers FOUR freedoms — speech, religion, press and assembly.

President Obama, so far, has not been highly friendly to any of the four. He’s been more aggressive than Bush on hunting down whistleblowers, thereby undercutting free speech. When these whistleblowers have been interviewed in the media, he’s leaned on those media outlets; ditto over things like restricting their access to Bradley Manning, prisoners in Guantanamo, etc., as freedom of the press intertwines with civil liberties. And, he made nary a comment about police thuggery at the 2008 party national conventions, and continued in the same vein of silence on police tactics vs. “Occupy” protesters, etc.

That leaves freedom of religion, which hasn’t gotten much legal test. However, since Obama has out-Bushed Bush once again, by expanding Bush’s office for faith-based programs, I think we know pretty much where the “constitutional law scholar” stands on that.

And, that leads to a final point. Beyond Obama and Romney not having a lot of difference on a lot of these issues, the fact that Obama likes to call himself both a liberal and a constitutional law scholar means that his hypocrisy level (and reason to be mistrusted) is arguably even higher than Romney’s.

So, really, does it matter THAT much as to the future of SCOTUS which of these two is in charge the next four years? No.


Beyond that, even if a President Romney were to go wingnut-happy with a SCOTUS nominee, there’s either a minimum of 41 Senate Democrats with cojones (latest polls even say Dems should keep a Senate majority) or there’s not. If not, then Democrats as a party and the United States as a country have even bigger problems.

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