I’ve always believed that a thinking person should wish for a president from an opposing party to pick justices for the Supreme Court. It seems like whatever a justice is like going in changes diametrically during his (or her) tenure. Conservatives become liberals and vice verse.
An article in today’s New York Times agrees.
As President Bush prepares to fill a vacancy that conservatives hope (and liberals fear) could shape the Supreme Court for a generation, he faces a daunting historical reality: presidents don’t always get what they bargain for when they grant even seemingly close allies lifetime tenure on a fiercely independent institution, where the hot-button issues of the future are hard to predict.
“The biggest damn fool mistake I ever made,” Dwight D. Eisenhower said of his appointment of Chief Justice Earl Warren, who discomfited him with the Brown v. Board of Education ruling ordering desegregation of public schools, and other liberal opinions. Harry S. Truman was even more scathing about Justice Tom C. Clark, a Truman appointee who voted against his 1952 seizure of the steel industry to avert a strike.
“It isn’t so much that he’s a bad man,” Truman later told the oral historian Merle Miller. “It’s just that he’s such a dumb son of a bitch.”
So, if you were a Kerry supporter, take heart. Whomever Bush picks, no matter how much he (or she) is vetted, is likely to turn on him like a mad dog.