June 4, 2005

Justice McConnell?

Tony Mauro has a detailed piece in Law.com about Michael McConnell as a Supreme Court appointee. An excerpt:
[A]s scrutiny of his record intensifies, it's hard for many to decide exactly what McConnell is: conservative, liberal, or a perplexing blend of both.

Capitol Hill sources and other players in the increasingly frenzied Supreme Court sweepstakes place McConnell, a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, at or near the top of the short list of possible picks for the high court if a vacancy occurs later this month.

And while some liberals like McConnell, others are gearing up for a battle royal against him, especially over his sharp opposition to abortion rights and his deep support for school vouchers and for aid to parochial schools.

"He is very troubling, and very likely," says Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Yet if President George W. Bush appoints McConnell, 50, it appears he will have at least some support from liberal academics, as he did when more than 300 law professors supported him for the appeals court judgeship in 2002. "He has integrity, smarts, and is more open to a range of views than others we might get," says one liberal law school ally of McConnell who did not want his name revealed before a vacancy materializes.

UPDATE: Am I for Justice McConnell?, a commenter asked. I'm certainly one of the 300 lawprofs who signed the letter Mauro refers to. And I love the idea of a "perplexing blend" of liberal and conservative, and not just because that's what I consider myself. I'm sure my blend is different from his. But what I want is a real human being, a hardworking, serious scholar, who is not an ideologue, but someone we really can trust for the next thirty years. It will be a credit to President Bush if he picks Judge McConnell.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gordon concurs.


Mark Daniels said...

Thanks for linking to the article! I've heard lots of specualtion about McConnell as a potential SCOTUS appointee, but hadn't read anything about him.

He's an intriguing possibile nominee. If Bush did send McConnell's name to the Senate, it would probably confound the ideologues on both sides of the spectrum and allow the country to sidestep a bloody confirmation battle.

Based on this limited information anyway, he seems like an outstanding possibility. Is that your reaction as well?

Sloanasaurus said...

Any perceived pro-lifer candidate will be demonized by the Democrats.

I predict that Bush will win the Justices fight. Roe vs. Wade will go down sometime in 2008, and everyone will wake up to realize that not much will changed (unless you live in maybe Utah).

Mark Daniels said...

The reasons you cite in your UPDATE are precisely what make McConnell look so appealing to me.

I am tired of human cliches who spout well-worn ideological lines, giving no evidence of any real engagement with the issues at hand.

Anyone who isn't a perplexing blend of conservative and liberal views, in whatever proportions, has likely sold out to someone. It appeals to me to have a justice on the Court who, rooted in some firm principles, will listen with fresh ears and consider with an open mind and maybe, find creative solutions that are nonetheless faithful to the Constitution.

Thanks for responding to my question.

Pancho said...

And I love the idea of a "perplexing blend"

My thought exactly. I am rather tired of having to stick the right or left tag on every person in public life. Private life too come to think of it.

Charles said...

Just curious, but since there is no requirement for a Supreme Court justice to be a lawyer, what would you see happening if there was a "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" type of nomination. A "regular" citizen, possessed of common sense, brought to bring that to the decisions? Law clerks and other types of support would still be available. And blogs.

Ann Althouse said...

Charles: Someone without legal training would be desperately incompetent to handle the materials that are involved with the work. If law were to become just "common sense," there would be no basis for having judges trump the legislatures.

Charles said...

If the law were to just become common sense, then there would be no basis for having judges trump the legislature. I see I have thought a very dangerous thought, trying to apply common sense. I promise not to do so any more!