This week marks six years since a new justice was confirmed -- the longest interval between nominations in 177 years.
People For the American Way will launch an ad campaign tomorrow urging Americans to consider what presidential candidate George W. Bush's choice of running mate says about his potential Supreme Court nominees.
"Bush has already said that he will pick Supreme Court nominees in the mold of the right-wing justices on the Court," said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. "The choice of Dick Cheney is a sign that we should take Bush at his word. The record of Dick Cheney is a signal that we should do everything we can to keep Bush from putting similar people on the Supreme Court."
People For the American Way's ad will appear in USA Today on Wednesday, August 2. It can be previewed at www.pfaw.org.
There is near-universal agreement that the next President is likely to have the opportunity to appoint up to three new justices to the Supreme Court, and there is good reason for such consensus. Neas noted that Thursday, August 3, the night Bush will be confirmed as the GOP nominee, will be the six-year anniversary since the swearing in of the Court,s most recent appointee, Justice Stephen Breyer. Only once in our nation's history has there been such a long interval between Supreme Court nominations, and that ended 177 years ago, when James Monroe was President. Four of the current justices are between 67 and 80 and two more will turn 65 next year. So the prospect of new right-wing appointments takes on particular urgency, especially given the closely divided nature of the current court on fundamental constitutional issues, Neas said.
Bush has publicly stated that he will appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court and has named Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as the models for his appointments. The judicial philosophy of Scalia and Thomas, documented in their long public record of dissenting and concurring opinions, makes it clear that a Scalia-Thomas majority could overturn more than 100 precedents on reproductive choice, privacy, worker and consumer rights, environmental protection, and civil rights protections for women, racial and religious minorities, gay men and lesbians, and older Americans.
"Cheney is, in effect, Bush's first major appointment, and demonstrates that his campaign's 'compassionate conservatism', is more about style than substance," said Neas. "Cheney's long public record places him in the far right of the Republican Party on issues of civil rights, reproductive choice, education, the environment, and gun control." A synopsis of Cheney's voting record is attached.
The PFAW ad draws a comparison between Cheney's voting record and the opinions of Scalia and Thomas. For example, Cheney has a 100% anti-choice voting record and supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion under any circumstances; Scalia and Thomas are eager to overturn Roe v. Wade. Cheney has opposed any sensible gun controls, even a ban on plastic guns that had the support of the NRA; Scalia and Thomas voted to overturn parts of the Brady Act. Cheney voted against civil rights bills and the ERA; Scalia and Thomas have voted to make it harder to prove discrimination and have argued that sex discrimination in jury selection should be constitutional. Cheney opposed most environmental protection legislation; Scalia and Thomas would make it more difficult for state and local governments to protect the environment, and have voted to prevent the government from protecting endangered species on private land.
People For the American Way is carrying out an extensive campaign to mobilize progressive voters around the threat to the future of the Supreme Court. Documentation for all the information contained in the ad is available at www.pfaw.org.
People For the American Way is a national advocacy organization working to defend and protect Americans, constitutional liberties and civil rights.