News

    Bush Could Make First US Supreme Court Appointment in a Decade

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Republicans are hoping that President Bush will have the opportunity to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice during his second four-year term, which begins with his inauguration on January 20. But opposition Democrats are already preparing for a major nomination battle when a Supreme Court vacancy occurs.

    It has been more than 10 years since a new justice was appointed to the nine-member Supreme Court. It is the longest period without a vacancy on the high court since a 12-year span ending in 1823.

     

    In addition, there is concern about the health of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is battling thyroid cancer. The chief justice will swear in President Bush at his inauguration later this month. But legal experts question how much longer the 80-year-old Rehnquist can continue on the court.

    With the strong prospect of a vacancy on the Supreme Court sometime in the next few years, if not sooner, activists on both sides of the political divide are already gearing up for what could be a contentious nomination battle in the U.S. Senate.

    Republicans are urging the president to nominate a conservative jurist to the high court if there is a vacancy.

    Bruce Fein, a legal scholar who served in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration, thinks the president should nominate someone compatible with two of the Supreme Court's most conservative members, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

    "It is my proposition that President Bush should appoint all philosophical conservatives in the mold of [Justice Antonin] Scalia and [Justice Clarence] Thomas as he pledged in his campaign to fill all the vacancies that may arise in his second term," he said.

    The president has not indicated who he might nominate should a Supreme Court vacancy occur. But some of Mr. Bush's comments following his re-election have encouraged conservatives to believe he will be bold in his selection of a Supreme Court nominee.

    "You asked do I feel free? Let me put it this way," said George W. Bush. "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style."

    Opposition Democrats are preparing for a possible nomination battle as well. Liberal groups concerned with protecting abortion rights are already warning the president that appointing a moderate would be the best way of winning Senate confirmation.

    "Is there a mandate in this country for President Bush to reshape the federal judiciary in his image? Absolutely not," said Nan Aron, who is with the Alliance for Justice, a liberal legal activist group that has opposed several of the president's nominees for federal judgeships.

    She says the high court already leans conservative on most issues and that another conservative on the bench would tilt the Supreme Court too far to the right.

    "So much of what we Americans take for granted in terms of a regulatory structure that basically protects us and our environment," she said. "This administration will seek to put justices on the bench that will basically overturn so much of what we have taken for granted."

    Political experts say Supreme Court appointments are important because it is an area where a president can have an impact long after he or she has left office.

    "Your legacy extends decades when you make Supreme Court appointments," said Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at the American University in Washington. "And you know that the conservatives, who are the dominant force in the Republican Party, will be pressing for a very conservative nominee. The Democrats will be saying, reach out [appoint a moderate]. You cannot hide with that appointment."

    Any nomination battle will be fought out in the Senate. A simple majority of the 100-member Senate is required for confirmation. But Democrats could try to defeat the nomination by use of a parliamentary tactic known as the filibuster in which a nomination is blocked by endless debate.

    It takes 60 votes to end a filibuster. Republicans currently hold 55 Senate seats, compared to 44 for the Democrats and one independent.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora