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Obama Gearing Up for Liberal Supreme Court

Monday, 09 Feb 2009 09:38 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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With hearings coming up this week on President Barack Obama’s top Justice Department appointees, his possible Supreme Court nominees are coming into view.

Supreme Court nominees traditionally have served in high posts at the Justice Department, so they automatically move to a short list of possible nominees to the Supreme Court. All of Obama’s nominees are extremely well-qualified — and extremely liberal.

Elena Kagan, Obama’s nominee for solicitor general, is a former dean of Harvard Law School. In that position, she prohibited the military from recruiting on campus for a year. She filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court opposing the Solomon Amendment, which requires colleges to allow military recruiters on their campuses or lose federal funds. The court rejected her position.

David Ogden, Obama’s nominee for deputy attorney general, filed a brief with the Supreme Court opposing Internet filters at pubic libraries to block pornography. He argued that everyone should have “unfettered Internet access” at libraries.

Ogden also wrote a brief for the American Psychological Association in Planned Parenthood v. Casey arguing that abortion “rarely causes or exacerbates psychological or emotional problems.” He added that it is “grossly misleading to tell a woman that abortion imposes possible detrimental psychological effects when the risks are negligible in most cases, when the evidence shows that she is more likely to experience feelings of relief and happiness.”

Thomas Perrelli, Obama’s nominee for associate attorney general, represented Michael Schiavo in his effort to remove his wife, Terry Schiavo, from life support and a feeding tube.

Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s nominee for assistant attorney general to head the Office of Legal Counsel, is a former legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. As counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, Johnsen has said, “Our position is that there s no ‘father’ and no ‘child’ — just a fetus.”

With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg battling cancer, Obama’s possible choices for the court become even more pertinent. Other possible Supreme Court nominees are Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Judge Karen Moore of the Sixth Circuit, Judge Diane Wood of the Seventh Circuit, Stanford University Law professor and former dean Kathleen M. Sullivan, and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh.

Incredibly, in Ricci v. DeStefano, Sotomayor sided with New Haven, Conn., when the city found that not enough black firefighters did well on a promotion test, so it discarded the test results and made no promotions at all. The Supreme Court will hear the case in April.

Brad Berenson, a former associate White House counsel under President Bush, says the four Justice Department nominees are a “very solid, sober, responsible group.”

Theodore B. Olson, a former Bush solicitor general, says of Kagan, “She is very, very highly respected by everybody I know.” Kagan has been “very gracious” to conservative students and faculty at Harvard, Olson says.

Ken Klukowski, a legal expert who consults for major conservative interest groups, says the nominees are “extremely intelligent, well-educated, experienced, and they’re masters of their craft.” In terms of their outlook, “They are definitely what you would expect,” he says. “Remember, Barack Obama has spoken out in terms of redistributive justice and considered it a shame that the Warren Court, which is the most liberal court in American history, did not engage in wealth redistribution. These people I think perfectly reflect where President Obama falls on the left side of the legal-philosophical spectrum.”

Referring to Ogden’s comment about abortion, Klukowski says, “Doctors I’ve spoken with say whenever anyone undergoes an invasive procedure there are inherent risks.”

Overall, the nominees “have advocated an agenda that is out of the mainstream,” Klukowski says. “The challenge will be if these people were to then go from the Justice Department to the Supreme Court, to what degree will they set aside their personal beliefs and confine themselves to the law as written?”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
e-mail. Go here now.

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