The Supremes and the Obama Regime
Presidential elections are not so much about the Executive Branch as they are about U.S. Supreme Court nominations. While Presidents strive to nominate judges who will vote in accordance with their own political and social philosophy, it remains for the U.S. Senate to either confirm or reject Supreme Court nominees.
The pending retirement of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens is a case in point. For Republicans, the timing of Steven’s retirement prior to this November (while Democrats control the Senate Judiciary Committee), could not be worse. So, one wonders why Stevens, who was nominated to the Supremes by Republican President Gerald Ford, would not have waited to retire sometime after the upcoming November elections when the Republicans stand a good chance of becoming the majority party in the U.S. Senate and reclaiming the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee?
If, as expected, the Obama Regime nominates a “flaming liberal” to replace the semi-liberal Stevens, the Republicans might be able to use some of the Democrats’ own patented parliamentary maneuvers to delay a confirmation hearing until a Republican Senate majority could take office in January 2011. But the Republican ranks include several RINOs (Republicans in name only) who inexplicably defect to the Democrats. Thus, chances of delay are somewhere between slim and none.
No matter who is seated on the court or when, issues such as “federal statute nullification,” “jury nullification” and the powers of county sheriffs are almost certain to arise.
For example: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (ironically Democratic Party icons) worried that the U.S. Government (USG) would grow too powerful and steamroll over the individual States. (Perhaps, Jefferson and Madison had a crystal ball in which they foresaw ObamaCare?)
Jefferson and Madison reasoned that the USG was the creation of the States, not the other way around. Ergo: Jefferson and Madison believed the individual States, which had created the USG, should always have the power to control the USG.
In other words, if the Congress passes a law deemed morally repugnant or illegal, the individual States can “nullify” that law provided their legislatures and governors can act together on a formal resolution of nullification, informing the USG that the nullified federal law has no force or effect within their borders.
Actually, the county sheriff is the highest official in any county. Should a county sheriff have the audacity to do so, he or she can tell federal enforcement officials that certain federal laws are not enforceable within county boundaries. At the next election, county voters could back their sheriff or not.
Moreover, the 10th Amendment proclaims: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” But liberals contend the Commerce Clause of 14th Amendment takes precedence over the 10th Amendment, allowing Congress to tell the States what to do about virtually everything.
On the judicial side, there is the parallel concept of “jury nullification” where juries can find that a particular law is “wrong,” and refuse to enforce it. But “jury nullification” can cut both ways.
Here’s an example from the pre-Civil War North: “Your Honor, the defendant, Atticus Finch, is guilty of setting slaves free in violation of the pro-slavery laws passed by the southern Democrats. Even so, we are finding Mr. Finch Not Guilty.”
Conversely, from the post-Civil War South: “Your Honor, we don’t cotton to them Republican anti-slavery laws. Even though the defendant, Mr. Rhett Butler, is still holdin’ slaves, we’s findin’ him Not Guilty.”
To paraphrase the late movie actress, Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts. We are in for a bumpy judicial ride.”
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist and self-described “recovering lawyer,” taught 300-level courses in government, history, political science, and geo-politics for the University of Maryland (European Division), Columbia College and Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2010 William Hamilton.