Saturday, August 23, 2008

Presidential Nominees and the Supreme Court

The previous post discusses why the appointment of Supreme Court nominees is important to workers. In short, Supreme Court justices will rule on cases that impact workers' daily lives for generations to come - issues such as pay equity, anti-discrimination laws, worker leave issues, and employee retirement plans.

The current presidential nominees' Congressional voting records provide insight as to how they might approach judicial appointments and other important appointments such as Attorney General positions.

Obama. Barak opposed the appointments of Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, and (former) Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Biden did too. In a floor statement at the Senate in 2005, Obama put it this way,

"The truth is, Mr. Gonzales has raised serious doubts about whether, given the choice between the Constitution and the President's political agenda, he would put our Constitution first. And that is why I simply cannot support his nomination for Attorney General."

He went on to acknowledge that Gonzales would most likely be confirmed anyway. Obama said that he looked forward to working together with him in that new role. He also expressed his hope that once in office, Gonzales would "take the lessons of this debate to heart."

Gonzales apparently didn't, in light of the hiring scandal that came to light in 2007 during his term and leading to his ultimate resignation. According to a Justice Department report, Gonzales' senior aides used Internet searches and interviews to screen out candidates who might be "too liberal" and identify candidates seen as pro-Republican and supportive of President Bush. According to the report, officials searched the Internet for key phrases or words in an applicant’s background, like “abortion,” “homosexual,” “Florida recount,” or “guns.” They then rejected candidates they saw as too liberal, sometimes leaving critical posts open in search of conservative candidates.

Obama called that one.

McCain. In contrast to Obama and Biden, John McCain has said that Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito "would serve as the model for my own nominees if that responsibility falls to me."

While anti-abortion voters might like this, workers' rights advocates warn that judges like these might not be best for the average worker.

Source: Obama's Senate Floor Statement -

Source: Juliet Eilperin, McCain Statement: McCain Sees Roberts, Alito as Examples: -

Source: Eric Lichtblau, Report Faults Aides in Hiring at Justice Dept., New York,