Due to the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the leading conservative voice on the high court, there is now a vacancy on the Supreme Court. I believe that our nation now consists of extremes of liberal and conservatives who constantly fight with one another. I must admit that I have strong leaning towards the liberal side because of my rather progressive ideas. But I feel that government works best when there are more moderate centrists who are more willing to compromise. We currently have 4 liberal justices and 4 conservative justices. We need a moderate political and social justice who can bring more balanced to decisions. In the past it has been conservatives that have been the majority and thus most rulings have had social/political right leanings over the last decade or so.
If the President nominates a liberal leaning Justice he will find it impossible to get approval from the Republican dominated congress. Of course he will not nominate a conservative so he is only left with a moderate centrist which might have a chance of approval. There is no guarantee that the next president will nominate a more agreeable justice for Republicans and that Congress in the future might be more evenly divided with Democrats. So for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to have said the Senate should not confirm a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia until after the 2016 election is fool-hearted and simply grandstanding.
What is a moderate centrist and what would his view and decisions be on some of our more controversial issues such as campaign contributions, abortions, gun control, immigration, assisted suicides, etc. How would a moderate view any of these issues without political/sociological/religious bias? To start with I feel a justice should most of all have a broad view and understanding of the Constitution. Constitutional conservatives are either strict constructiveness, the concept that the Constitution should be interpreted by its literal meaning, or originalism, the concept that the Constitution should be interpreted based on the original intent of the founders.. A liberal Justice would view the Constitution as a living document which changes with social, economic, and moral norms making it more relevant of the times. Of course these are rather extremes and many justice have more mixed views.
Extremes are far easier to describe than moderates because moderate centrists are less about pure principle than about finding practice solutions. For example a moderate centrist might favor limited political contributions by put reasonable caps on such contributions so they do not have such an extreme influence on political campaigns. On abortions they would tend to rule that the federal government would have the right to finance abortion clinics but a state would have the right to refuse federal funding for abortions. On emigration a moderate Justice might tend to favor a quota of how many illegal migrants would be granted legal status base on length of stay here. On assisted suicides a moderate Justice might tend to leave it to the individual states to decide. These are only examples. Obviously there are other scenarios. As a matter of fact a moderate Justice would have far more options and it would be harder to determine how he or she might vote.
Moderate centrist are also hard to find because decisions are far harder for them to make. They don’t have a strong point of view to base their decisions upon and must look for solutions which are often very difficult to determine. That is why there are so few of them. But if President Obama wants to have a chance of gaining approval of his nominee this is the type of justice that has at least a chance of passage among the Republican majority. He might actually find problems gaining approval by some of the liberals in his own party. But you can never tell how such nominees will later develop once on the Supreme Court for a while but such things are beyond the President’s ability to determine beforehand.
This was quite an insightful article published on February 22 before President Obama announced his Supreme Court nominee Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on March 16, 2016. There are numerous similarities in the characteristics described in this article and Judge Garland.