First gay Supreme Court nominee?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse, May 2, 2009.

  1. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    There's a name that keeps coming up on many of these "short lists" for a possible Obama Supreme Court appointment now that David Souter is retiring.

    According to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the National Journal and the Wall Street Journal, former Stanford Law dean Kathleen Sullivan is a speculated contender. She is widely considered one of America’s top constitutional law scholars. She is a co-author of one of the nation’s leading casebooks in Constitutional Law called... Constitutional Law.


    Sullivan graduated from Cornell in 1976, graduated as a Marshall Scholar from Oxford in 1978, then graduated from Harvard Law School in 1981, where her mentor Laurence Tribe called her "the most extraordinary student I had ever had". After law school, Sullivan worked for one year as a law clerk for Judge James Oakes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Sullivan was a professor of law at Harvard Law School from 1984 until 1993. She joined Stanford Law School in 1993 and became the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law in 1996. Sullivan then served as the dean of Stanford Law School from 1999 until 2004.


    Kathleen Sullivan is 53, an out lesbian, and has argued many cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and has filed amicus curiae briefs in some of the most important Supreme Court cases involving LGBT rights, including Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas. She's a regular contributor to the New York Times and Washington Post op-ed pages; Sullivan can untangle and explain complex constitutional issues in a way the lay reader can understand.



    Regardless of whether Sullivan is nominated or not (there are several worthy women: court of appeal judges, district court judges, state Supreme Court justices, state governors, prominent Law academics), Obama has given us several indications as to the
    qualities he's looking for in a Supreme Court justice:

    Explaining his opposition to Samuel Alito, Obama said:

    "I have no doubt that Judge Alito has the training and qualifications necessary to serve. He's an intelligent man and an accomplished jurist. And there's no indication he's not a man of great character. But when you look at his record — when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, I have found that in almost every case, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless; on behalf of a strong government or corporation against upholding Americans' individual rights."


    In a speech before Planned Parenthood he said:

    "We need somebody who's got the heart — the empathy — to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old -- and that's the criteria by which I'll be selecting my judges."


    In November, 2007, Obama answered a question with:

    "I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and... when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it's not just the particular issue and how they rule, but it's their conception of the Court. And part of the role of the Court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don't have a lot of clout... Sometimes we're only looking at academics or people who've been in the lower courts. If we can find people who have life experience and they understand what it means to be on the outside, what it means to have the system not work for them, that's the kind of person I want on the Supreme Court."
     
  2. Industrialsize

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    Now THAT would be "going big"!
     
  3. canuck_pa

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    If she's nominated, I hope she's successful.
     
  4. jason_els

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    It's been widely speculated that David Souter, the outgoing justice, is himself gay. If he is, he's not out. Perhaps he will say something in his memoirs if he chooses to publish them.

    I think Sullivan is a fine choice, lesbian or not.
     
  5. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    Yes, Jason, you're right. Just looked him up & Souter is a lifelong bachelor -- or a "confirmed bachelor" as they said back in the day (he was once engaged, but didn't work out).


    He has born in 1939, Harvard Law School in 1966, and his bio places him in New Hampshire as assisstant attorney general then deputy attorney general prosecuting cases in the early 1970's, the age of Gay Liberation and Free Love and bathhouse sex in San Francisco's Castro District (I think you guys had something similar happening in NYC).

    But all bio info indicates he's a quiet guy. No kiss and tell yet. Quiet single guy. Likes mountain climbing in New Hampshire. He's a runner (running, hiking, reading). Hates the glitz of Washington (waits until only a few days before returning for a new Supreme Court session). Rarely goes to parties. He's particularly fond of Ruth Bader Ginsberg (which sounds kind of fag-haggish to me, but, then again, so is Antonin Scalia who is unabashedly heterosexual). Doesn't use email. Won't use a cell phone. No answering machine. Threw out the TV. Always drives back to NH for the summer.


    He seems like a really nice guy. Colleagues say he has a "romantic passion" for the law, but that's probably because there's not a person he has a romantic passion for (that we know of).

    Souter was one of the dissenting votes in the 5-4 "Bush v. Gore" decision, where 5 decided to end the recount.

    This is what Jeffrey Toobin wrote, in his book The Nine, of that decision:

    "Souter believed Bush v. Gore mocked that tradition. His colleagues’ actions were so transparently, so crudely partisan that Souter thought he might not be able to serve with them anymore.

    Souter seriously considered resigning. For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a justice. That the Court met in a city he loathed made the decision even harder. At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to stay on, but his attitude toward the Court was never the same. There were times when David Souter thought of Bush v. Gore and wept."
     
  6. jason_els

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    Souter's an enigma and will likely stay that way. I don't see him talking about anything until he's dead and a biographer publishes his stuff. He's extremely private about everything not dealing with the court. That's his choice, but makes it difficult to divine anything about his motivations or philosophy.
     
  7. Bbucko

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    Whenever someone who is straight (especially someone with no clear understanding of what being gay in the US is really like) speaks of a sublimated "romantic passion", it's a sure-fire tip off that the person's gay. The conventional wisdom here is that s/he has such a burning passion for something that it negates the erotic in his/her life. My experience is that people who have been described that way are actually as sexually-motivated as anyone else, but choose to shield their sexual interests (and companions) out of fear of being ostracized by society at large.

    History is replete with "confirmed bachelors" and "spinsters" who supposedly sacrificed marriage for "higher callings". In nearly all cases, these people are/were gay, but coming out would have caused an effective end to their careers.

    As to the OP: she'd be a fabulous choice. I hope she'd nominated.
     
  8. joeweekend

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    That'll be fascinating. I bet during confirmation hearings, it never even gets mentioned once.

    And that'll be serious progress.
     
  9. jason_els

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    The thing is, Souter's untouchable. He could come out and nobody could touch his job. The only way to oust a Supreme Court justice is to impeach him or her and there's no way he could be impeached over that. I'd say it's much more a personal decision. Perhaps he has relatives or close friends whom it would crush? Also note that the term, "confirmed bachelor," has been code for, "gay," for over half a century. It's not used without meaning just that.
     
  10. swordfishME

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    Souter is a VERY private person. I doubt he will ever come out if he is indeed gay-not because he fears the consequences but because he believes that his private life is no one's business.

    As far as his replacement goes, I want Obama to find the youngest qualified person that he can for the job (it would be a hoot if he can find someone in his 30's, who would potentially stay on the court for half a century!) The conservatives always have these young nominess (Both Alito and Roberts were in their early 50's when nominated) that stay on the court for ever. (Athough lifespan is not guranteed- I had a 54 year old fit as a fiddle Uncle drop dead of a heart attack two days ago).

    BTW, does anyone still believe that John Paul Stevens will EVER retire?
     
  11. faceking

    faceking Active Member

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    Blasphemy... I'm seeing rhetoric that he MUST appoint a black lesbian to the post.
     
  12. HotBulge

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    I would be naieve to say that identity politics will not enter into Obama's calculus for a Supreme Court nominee. I believe, however, that he will at [intelligence +competence] as a pre-condition for the position, and character as the determining factor.

    Justice Roberts, for instance, is competent and intelligent, but if you look at his record, his views can be characterized as defending the status quo. Supporting the status quo, no matter how vigorous the defense, is not neceassarily useful when it's time for the court to take a more progressive or evolutionary view of the constitution.

    One specific, hot topic is gay marriage. Regardless if one accepts or rejects gay marriage, it fundamentally reduces down to an issue of Civil Rights. The denial of marriage re-inforces the "2nd class" citizenship status of the minority gay community. Now, a traditionalist judge can offer a rigours argument as to why the status quo should be maintained, but a progressive justice would tie the issue of gay marriage to civili rights and liken today's scenario to free states vs. slave states in the mid-19th century.
     
  13. faceking

    faceking Active Member

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    then why do gays, and current state proposals shit on polygamy? it's consenting adults, and right to wed, and blah blah blah... hypocrisy in it's finest hour the way I'm seeing/hearing it.
     
    #13 faceking, May 4, 2009
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
  14. midlifebear

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    Hmmm . . . do all "gays" shit on polygamy? Is Faceking, among so many other things, now an expert on polygamy? Does he have 19 siblings and at least 52 first cousins? Has watching Big Love made him an authority? And where is it Faceking goes to watch "gays" shit? So many questions.
     
  15. Bbucko

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    Though I've never stated so here at LPSG, I'm totally down with Polygamy, so long as all participants are of legal age and enter into the contract of their own free will.

    It's those anti-equality types who are forever pillow-biting about the "slippery slope".
     
  16. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I've said here on LPSG numerous times that anti-polygamy laws are a big problem with immigrants and believe they should be rescinded.
     
  17. TurkeyWithaSunburn

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    Consenting between 2 people, of the same or opposite sex, is different than between one man and a harem of women, which is what most polygamous marriages are. Polyandry is exceedingly rare worldwide.

    (oh yeah, nice way to lump everyone who is homosexual together, cuz everyone who is gay has the exact same thoughts on EVERYTHING you know) :rolleyes:
     
  18. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    Jake Tapper profiled 2 academic lesbians on Obama's "short list" for Supreme Court nominee, one of then Kathleen Sullivan, constitutional law scholar and dean of Stanford Law and Pamela Karlan.

    Not sure either will be chosen, but sure is nice to see two gay persons contending for the highest court in the land.

    We've come a long way, baby.

    YouTube - Tapper on Obama's Supreme Court Pick
     
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