Put a liberal on the Supreme Court

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By Rick Howell

    With the impending resignation of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama will get at least one more chance to select a justice.

    Obama took a relatively safe road with his choice last year of Sonia Sotomayor. As the first Hispanic on the court, she was a historic pick. But she was, and remains, a person with what is basically a middle of the road political philosophy.

    Obama couldn’t afford a highly partisan fight over a Supreme Court choice in his first year. Some conservatives tried to make it that, but they were unsuccessful and she was easily confirmed.

    Now, though, things have changed. Stevens, a moderate when appointed by President Ford in 1975, has watched the court become far more conservative than it was then.

    Republican presidents have given us three judges who are dedicated conservatives: Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts. Scalia and Thomas, in particular, are total conservative ideologues, and they have proven that in both their rulings and their public statements and interviews.

    Stevens, by attrition, has become the leading liberal on the court, but often finds himself on the losing end of 5-4 decisions authored by the court’s conservatives.

    Therefore, it is imperative that the president choose an unapologetic and unabashed liberal to replace Stevens. He has the numbers in the Senate to get it done and he should not hesitate to make such a choice.

    Oh, sure, the Republicans will carry on about “activist” judges, they always do. But it’s nothing more than a continuation of the same old dishonest approach they’ve long pursued.

    If the phrase “activist judges” means jurists who rule out of their basic political philosophy over anything else, then surely that should apply to everyone and not just liberals.

    The two most prominent “activist judges” in America are Scalia and Thomas, something they’ve proven over and over again. Therefore, Obama needs to put someone on the court who will uphold the liberal tradition that Stevens so admirably protected.

    The conservative philosophy should not be allowed to dominate the Supreme Court; it will lead to the ruination of America if it does.

    Conservatives only seem to believe in the primacy of two things: money and the military. They want a heartless capitalist system without any kind of social safety net at all to protect the victims of money.

    Conservatives say they’re concerned about “excessive government spending,” but they suspend that worry when it comes to the military. Most of them never saw a Pentagon budget they thought was large enough.

    All aspects of our meager social safety net - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - would be threatened if the right is allowed to get a dominant majority on the Supreme Court. President Obama must not allow this to happen.

    The time has come for the president to energetically pursue the liberal agenda for which he was elected. Conservatives don’t enjoy the majority of feeling in this country the way they imagine they do.

    The right has demonstrated - especially during the health care debate - its virulent opposition to this president and to the ideas of the people who elected him. Those of us who were proud to vote for Obama in 2008 and who will be proud to do so again in 2012 need to urge him to stand up for what we know to be his principles.

    Mr. President: Pick a liberal for the Supreme Court and get that nominee confirmed. The future must not be left up to those who have no feeling for the poor and the disenfranchised.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.