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Will Biden or Palin Influence Judicial Picks?

The Legal Times has an interesting article suggesting that either prospective VP could play a role in the selection of judicial nominees during the next administration.

In Biden, Sen. Barack Obama selected a running mate who, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995, officiated at the confirmation hearings of five Supreme Court justices, one would-be justice, and hundreds of lower court judges.

Palin brings less of a record in this regard, but she already has had more impact on the Alaska judiciary than her predecessor. Since taking office in December 2006, Palin has seated more than a dozen judges, including a state Supreme Court justice and a state court of appeals judge, the first appellate appointments in the state in more than a decade.

The article also includes some good reporting on Palin's approach to judicial selection as Governor of Alaska. Among other things, it notes that during interviews for prospective appointments, Palin asked prospective judges about their overall judicial philosophy, but avoided asking about specific cases.

Harrington, executive director of Alaska Legal Services Corp., interviewed with Palin in November 2007, days after the state Supreme Court issued a ruling striking down a law that required girls less than 17 years old and younger to get permission from their parents before receiving an abortion. Palin, who opposes abortion except in cases where the mother's life is threatened, called the ruling "outrageous." Harrington anticipated a question about the ruling. But Palin never asked about the case or any other, Harrington says.

"I was pleasantly surprised that the topic did not come up," he says. "I thought that was an indication that the governor and her staff were cognizant of the ethical responsibilities of someone who is a candidate for the court."

He and Palin discussed Alaskan native law, his role models and his work history. At one point, she asked him to define an activist judge. He said he was expecting that, too.

"I think she has a good sense of the separation of powers and the proper role of the judiciary," Harrington says. "She thinks the role of the court is to decide cases and controversies that come before it, and she wants judges to do a good job of applying the law and precedent."

Jon Roland (mail) (www):
This seems consistent with the picture of Palin that is emerging of someone who has and expresses her private views, but avoids trying to impose them on others. She prefers to preach her moral positions rather than legislate them.

I somehow suspect Biden would be less sensitive to the problem. The ways he has questioned candidates for the federal bench do not encourage one to expect he would not try to get judges that prejudge cases.

Interestingly, it seems likely that Palin's more gentle approach may be more effective in changing minds. We are already getting reports of abortions falling off because of the public example she set of keeping Trig. Part of charisma is becoming adopted as a role model, and she shares that with Obama, but less with the other candidates, or with most people in prominent public positions. It is little wonder that religious conservatives are enthusiastic with her, because she amay ccomplish more just by private decisions and statements than by legislating or influencing court decisions.
9.13.2008 6:57pm
markH (mail):
"We are already getting reports of abortions falling off because of the public example she set of keeping Trig"

You can't be serious.

"She thinks the role of the court is to decide cases and controversies that come before it, and she wants judges to do a good job of applying the law and precedent"

Not much insight to gain from that. Who doesn't think the court should decide cases and do a good job?
9.13.2008 7:09pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
markH:

"We are already getting reports of abortions falling off because of the public example she set of keeping Trig"

You can't be serious.


Just reading the comments. See
http://www.lifenews.com/int914.html
9.13.2008 7:20pm
David Warner:
This puts "Living Constitution" in a whole new light.

The benefits of governing a young state.
9.13.2008 8:14pm
Silly:
From the Legal Times article:


Gitenstein says Biden would look for nominees who represent "some mix of Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter -- moderate and in the middle."


If Biden truly believes this, that Ginsburg is somehow moderate or in the middle, I hope even more his side loses this election. As a Republican, I don't have any issue saying that Scalia or Thomas are at the one end of the spectrum. Ginsburg is at the other end. If these guys really can't see that, I don't want them anywhere near the nominating process.
9.13.2008 10:54pm
Dave N (mail):
I would say that both Justices Brennan and Marshall were more liberal in their day than Justice Ginsburg is now. That doesn't mean Justice Ginsburg isn't a liberal, it does mean that the Supreme Court has seen worse.
9.13.2008 11:09pm
tvk:
Palin asked prospective judges about their overall judicial philosophy, but avoided asking about specific cases.

I agree that it would be really bad for presidents and governors to ask potential judicial appointments for specific commitments to a particular outcome, but I think you are giving Palin a little too much credit here. Assuming that you do a small amount of vetting and pick someone with an established "paper trail," you can pretty much determine with 95% confidence how they will vote in any particular case. You don't need to ask Antonin Scalia (or any other reliable conservative) "how would you have voted in Roe v. Wade?" to know how he would have voted. And, indeed, asking such a specific question would be politically risky because a disgrunted candidate who was not picked might go to the press and start a controversy about the appointment process.
9.13.2008 11:32pm
fat tony (mail):
What about the most outrageous part of the article:

"...required girls less than 17 years old and younger..."

Calling the language police!
9.14.2008 12:46am
Steve2:
I'd think Obama would involve Biden in a "Hey, Joe, you were on Judiciary with all them, how do you think nominating Jonathan Adler will go over? I don't want one of my nominees to get Borked or have a Miers fiasco on my hands" manner, if nothing else. Obama may or may not would involve him in picking the nominee, but I think he certainly would involve him in evaluating 1)how much political capital it'll take to get that nominee approved and 2)if he's got enough to do it.
9.14.2008 1:21am
Clastrenster:
Joe Roland:

"We are already getting reports of abortions falling off because of the public example she set of keeping Trig."

The extent to which this is a sickening statement will most likely elude you however you live. It is terrorist like in its stupidity. Ugh!
9.14.2008 2:05am
Clastrenster:
Joe Roland:

That may appear as an overreaction with missing words. But there is simply no way the force of those difficulties or that decision has been affected by *anything* in the last two weeks outside of those peoples personal lives. The "we" in your comments are irretrievably offensive to those struggling beyond McCain's happytime circus death march.
9.14.2008 2:15am
Clastrenster:
Joe Roland

Because life and death decisions are, in fact, really fragagingsdgoisfgfdjhg;dfg difficult to anyone who's had to face them.
9.14.2008 2:18am
Clastrenster:
Joe Roland

And who doesn't fantasize that everyone else is inside their own twisted heads.

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Pilates NOW!
9.14.2008 2:19am
Clastrenster:
I feel icky, Joe Roland. ooooo
9.14.2008 2:20am
Clastrenster:
is it possible to jump the shark in advance? ouch. i need a kleenex..
9.14.2008 2:22am
Clastrenster:
You, Joe Roland, wrote this:

"Part of charisma is becoming adopted as a role model, and she shares that with Obama, but less with the other candidates, or with most people in prominent public positions."

also wrote this:

"We are already getting reports of abortions falling off because of the public example she set of keeping Trig."

Shame on you for your badly clad trisomy prejudice on this issue! Dumb statements, sir or madam, dumb statements.
9.14.2008 4:12am
Clastrenster:
May sad desperation chase those statements into a grave! (not a good talking point, internal memo).
9.14.2008 4:16am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I don't actually have anything to say on the topic, but I just want to make sure that Clastrenster doesn't post ten times in a row without interruption.

Oh, and it's "Jon Roland", not "Joe." Is copying really that difficult?
9.14.2008 4:38am
Clastrenster:
Not for McCain.
9.14.2008 5:04am
Clastrenster:
And Mr. M. Niporent, no bodies wants to post ten times in a row less than me. i'll seek therapy i swear. it's just hard, i mean, some of these issues seriously hit home and mccain's insane and i'm taking it out on him in the wurst of all possible places.
9.14.2008 5:07am
Clastrenster:
"I don't actually have anything to say" makes you my female dog and i'm *lllloooving it***.
9.14.2008 5:34am
subpatre (mail):
LOL After 11 of 21 posts by Obamabot 'Clastrenster', we just found out which side is most willing to vandalize when they have a losing argument.
9.14.2008 1:05pm
wfjag:
Clastrenster wrote:


i'll seek therapy i swear.


Is that a promise?
9.14.2008 1:18pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
It would be interesting to examine some of the opinions of Palin's judicial appointees. State courts don't get the same issues as federal, but it should be possible to discern whether her picks tend to be more libertarian or more social-conservative.
9.15.2008 12:41am