Here is another doozy of an article highlighting the Obama administration’s approach to picking a Supreme Court nominee. The L.A. Times report notes, among other points, two interesting quotes from Obama’s chief staffers.
Senior advisor David Axelrod claimed, “The president is first and foremost concerned with finding a justice who understands the Constitution, but he also wants one who respects precedent and understands the effects of decisions on the lives of everyday Americans.” [picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=supreme+court&iid=8469692″ src=”7/9/d/8/Supreme_Court_Justice_303c.jpg?adImageId=12752100&imageId=8469692″ width=”250″ height=”181″ /]Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “The way [the president] looks at the Supreme Court is, do you want somebody who’s going to write a great dissent for the four? … Or do you want a group of people whom you’ve put your imprint on that can get five people together on behalf of improving people’s lives?”
In short, the president wants someone who sympathizes with “everyday Americans” and makes decisions “improving” their lives. Fidelity to the Constitution seems to be a side issue.
Similar sentiments were noted in one of my previous posts, where I noted that Obama was looking for a jurist who favors ordinary citizens over powerful interests and understands how the law affects the lives of those citizens. None of this, of course, has anything to do with the main duty of a judge: interpreting and applying the Constitution in cases before them. But sympathetic rhetoric often wins the day in politics, regardless of its implications for the rule of law.