The Supreme Court is not only a critical factor in the presidential election, it’s also a key consideration in Senate races. That’s because the Senate holds the power to confirm or deny judicial nominations. And when the issue was raised in yesterday’s debate between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Brown’s comments were about as senseless as could be.
Scott Brown was asked to name his favorite Supreme Court Justice. Not surprisingly for a Republican who voted against confirming the highly qualified and moderate Elena Kagan, Sen. Brown named Antonin Scalia as his favorite Justice. But apparently eager to please both his base and the majority of Massachusetts voters who are Democrats, he then dissembled. According to the Huffington Post:
Brown seemed to recognize his mistake as his answer continued. "Justice Kennedy. Justice Kennedy is obviously very good. And Justice Roberts, they’re ah, Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor, there’s uh, I think they’re very qualified people there who actually do a very good job," Brown said.
Really? Scalia and Sotomayor? They epitomize the overwhelming difference in what our nation’s highest court would look like depending on who wins the presidential election. Mitt Romney says he would nominate Justices like Scalia, while President Obama nominated Sotomayor in 2009 and could be expected to nominate similar Justices in a second term.
Scalia has regularly joined highly controversial 5-4 decisions bending the law in order to favor powerful corporate interests, while Sotomayor has taken the opposite position. For instance, Scalia:
- voted with the majority in Citizens United, as well as in June’s decision striking down a Montana clean elections law rather than reconsidering that severely flawed decision.
- voted to let companies engaged in massive scams of their customers use a federal arbitration law to undermine state consumer protection laws across the country.
- voted to address an issue not argued by the parties and craft a new constitutional rule that will make it harder for public sector unions to protect workers’ rights.
- voted to deny the women of Wal-Mart the chance to join together and stand up for their rights in court, despite substantial evidence that they were systematically paid less than men and denied promotions given to men.
- voted to prevent government employees from suing to enforce a key provision of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
So how could Scott Brown possibly claim both Scalia and Sotomayor as his favorite Supreme Court Justice?