Apparently Arlen Specter isn’t particularly happy with the recent Stare Decisis-related performances of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. I’m not exactly sure what he wants to do about it, but it looks like he just wants to take a look at past decisions and remarks from the two Justices and decide whether or not they had honored the public and private agreements they made during their respective confirmation hearings.

He claims that he got the idea from Justice Breyer when they meet recently at a convention. Justice Breyer has been one of the most vocal opponents of the newly formed conservative voting block on the court but I don’t think he wants Specter to go back and ‘investigate’ two of his colleagues. I put ‘investigate’ in quotation marks because the whole notion of a Senator looking into a Justice’s judicial philosophy is rather baseless. This is a classic example of Congressional showboating- an action that means nothing but puts on a show that will appeal to the misinformed constituency. Regardless of what he ‘finds,’ there isn’t a whole lot a Senator can do to a Supreme Court Justice save for pushing for impeachment.

According to Specter, Breyer had mentioned that there were eight cases in which the conservative majority flaunted precedent. If I had to guess which those were, I would say Carhart, Wisconsin Right to Life, Parents Involved, Leegin, and Morse are definitely five of the eight cases that make Breyer’s list. The last three could be any number of cases, but my list would include National Defenders of Wildlife, Bowles, and Ayers.

Ledbetter and Hein were probably the most high-profile conservative wins that would be considered new questions enough that the conservative ruling, even though cutting back on trends, is not a violation of ‘stare decisis.’

Maybe Specter rediscovered his wonderful ‘contempt of Congress’ privileges and wants to hold two Justices of the United States Supreme Court in contempt of Congress for…being mean? being conservative? evolving as Justices? If I were to list the top 5 things that I don’t ever want to experience, being in contempt of Congress would surely make the list. A recently released report by the Congressional Research Service entitled “Congress’s Contempt Power: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure” only reaffirmed this mortal fear of mine so I thought I would do my best to spread the word about Congress’s dictatorial powers.


2 Responses to “Sorry Arlen, But You Can’t Return Supreme Court Justices”

  1. 1 Jeremy Pierce

    I was under the impression that this wasn’t supposed to have any effect on the current makeup of the Supreme Court but rather, consistent with Senator Schumer’s recent posturings, was supposed to have an impact on future hearings. I’m sure Specter isn’t going to go as far as Schumer, who seems to want to vote no on any nominee who won’t be forthcoming about how to vote in potential cases not yet heard, but given the timing it’s got to be along similar lines about how hearings will be conducted in the future and how easily senators should confirm presidential nominees.

  1. 1 SCOTUSblog

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