With the Supreme Court mulling over whether to consider marriage-equality cases, it’s worth taking a moment to think about who President Romney would be appointing to the Court.
There’s the possibility of at least one and probably more justices stepping down over the next four years, among them Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a reliable liberal justice (by the Court’s relative standards, anyway).
Now, for most voters, the Supreme Court falls somewhere between the National Park Service and the Post Office as a motivating political factor in the presidential race. However, appointees to the Court are around a lot longer than the presidents who appoint them and craft the shape of law for years (and decades) to come. And Romney’s likely list includes would-be nominees who have a track record of opposing gay rights:
- Former Solicitor General Paul Clement tops the list as the man most likely to be nominated. Among Clement’s distinguishing characteristics: he’s the guy that John Boehner & Co. hired to defend DOMA after the Obama administration refused to do so. When Clement’s law firm dissociated itself from him and the case, Clement resigned in protest, proving that he’s a man of principles, albeit reprehensible ones.
- Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals and a former aide to George W. Bush who helped special prosecutor Ken Starr during his investigations of Bill Clinton. Bush used Kavanaugh’s appointment to shore up his conservative credentials by kicking off a campaign against “judicial activism” that featured an attack on marriage equality.
- Diane Sykes, also on the U.S. Court of Appeals, who related to a conservative Catholic group that she once told colleagues, “You and I have important work to do, maintaining ethical standards.” While it may be no reflection on her, Sykes’ former husband, Charlie Sykes, is well know in Wisconsin as a conservative talk show host who is a regular opponent of marriage equality.
These three are named frequently as Romney’s likely choices, but like a judicial version of Oscar nominees, you can come up with your own list. The main point is that conservatives will be looking for Romney to prove his fealty by giving them someone who shares their beliefs. And as the court has proven of late, it doesn’t take its own precedents all that seriously. It may not just be marriage equality that’s up for grabs at the Court. It could also be anti-discrimination measures. Think about that on Election Day.
Photo: Gage Skidmore