We’re already hearing about some of the candidates President Bush might choose to replace White House Counsel Harriet Miers as the President’s nominee to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Some say Miers’ withdrawal gives the President an opportunity to choose another woman or a minority – or both. Senator Jim Talent, who will eventually vote on the new nominee, says several factors will be taken into account, with gender, race, and ethnicity among them. But he also thinks the President should consider regional diversity – choosing someone from a part of the country underrepresented on the High Court. He adds that while Miers was criticized by some for never having been a judge, the President should not restrict his choices to judges. As for the Miers’ nomination, Talent says he never had the chance to talk to ehr about her judicial philosophy, so he doesn’t know whether he would have voted for her confirmation had the nomination been sent to the floor.
President Bush’s surprise nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court has resulted in some praise, some criticism, and a lot of questions. Missouri’s junior U.S. Senator wants to learn more about the nominee before deciding whether to support her. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has never been a judge, which means she has no record of writings and opinions on which to consider her judicial temperament. As part of the confirmation process, Miers will meet with Senators who will be asked to vote on her nomination. Senator Jim Talent wants to know more about Miers, and will ask plenty of questions when she pays a visit to his Capitol Hill office. Talent says Miers must make it clear that as a justice she will be an umpire – not a rulemaker – and will not legislate from the Bench.
The confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts passed easily in the U.S. Senate, but a University of Missouri law professor says the next one won’t be so easy. Richard Reuben says Roberts passed easily because he’s a conservative replacing a conservative. But Reuben says retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Conner is a moderate and a moderate is not likely to be chosen by President Bush. Reuben says that could mean a much more contentious confirmation process this time around.
A constitutional amendment has been introduced in Washington to give President Bush and future Presidents a line item veto on bills passed by Congress. Senator Jim Talent and Senator George Allen of Virginia are co-authors of the amendment. Talent says it will benefit people across the country by allowing the White House to veto what many taxpayers consider waste that is often part of bills sent to the President’s desk. This is not the first attempt to give the President this power. The Line Item Veto Act was signed into law in April of 1996 and became effective in January of 1997. Then-President Bill Clinton exercised the veto power 82 times before the Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 1998. That was a law. This is a Constitutional Amendment. Talent believes support exists, across the land, to make the line item veto part of the U.S. Constitution.
Related web sites:
Announcement of Constitutional Amendment
A lawyer for a lesbian couple in Kansas City has asked a judge to overturn the state’s refusal to let them become foster parents. Lisa Johnston and her life partner, Dawn Roginski, started the process to become foster parents in 2003. Their lawyer, Lisa Brunner, says they went through extensive home study, and attended seven of nine sessions of a training program for potential foster parents before the Department of Social Services told them they would not be approved because they are homosexuals. An administrative hearing judge later upheld the agency’s decision. But lawyer Lisa Brunner says there is no rationale behind the ruling, pointing out the state has no law or written policy in place stating homosexuals cannot be foster parents. She says the hearing officer also made his ruling on the basis of a state law that remains on the books, although the US Supreme Court has ruled a similar law in Texas is unconstitutional. Brunner says the state’s arbitrary policy does a disservice to almost 200,000 children available for foster care or adoption. The lawyer for the Department of Social Services refused to comment on the lawsuit and even refused to say how long the policy has been in place.
It’s hard to predict how the confirmation process for US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, Jr. will play out, but a University of Missouri professor attempts to make a forecast based on the past. President Bush has nominated Roberts to take the place of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who has announced her plans to retire. Associate Professor Doug Abrams teaches Constitutional Law and American Legal History at MU. He says there have been times when nominees received quick confirmation from the Senate, but not over the past 15-to-20 years, when, according to Abrams, confirmation proceedings have taken on a life of their own. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-to-3 to confirm Roberts to the Washington DC Court of Appeals two years ago. The full Senate approved his nomination by roll call vote. Abrams expects that to be brought up by his supporters, but to not carry all that much weight. He says opponents will dismiss the argument, saying the previous vote was to confirm Roberts for a much different judicial position. Abrams says the biggest task facing Senators is not looking into Roberts’ past, but trying to predict how he will rule in the future.
Now that President Bush has nominated Judge John Roberts to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Conner on the US Supreme Court, the US Senate will either confirm or reject that nomination. Senator Talent says while Judge Roberts might have only two years on the federal bench, he comes in with a great personal legal record. President Bush nominated Roberts to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 2003. The Senate confirmed him later than year. Even Talent, a staunch Republican backer of the President, admits he does not know a lot about Roberts and does not want to prejudge the man. But Talent says he is hoping for a fair process, because there could be another nomination waiting in the wings should 80-year-old Chief Justice William Rehnquist either retire or die. He says how the Senate handles the Roberts nomination will indicate how it handles a second. Talent says the Senate now will spend the coming days, weeks, maybe even months going through Roberts’ record and what he tells the Judiciary Committee. The senator also hopes he’ll get to vote on the nomination by the end of September, before the next Supreme Court session begins in October.
Former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway has been sworn in as acting federal prosecutor for the eastern half of the state. Hanaway replaces James Martin, who became the acting US Attorney in St. Louis after Ray Gruender was appointed as a judge on the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. Though Hanaway is on the job, she still must be confirmed by the Senate and serves in an interim capacity until confirmation. Hanaway says she doesn’t know when a vote on her nomination will come before the Senate and says she expects it to be delayed while the Senate considers President Bush’s nomination of Judge John Roberts, Jr. to the US Supreme Court. Hanaway, a Republican from Warson Woods, served as House Minority Leader and is given much of the credit for Republicans taking control of the Missouri House for the first time in 50 years after the 2002 elections. In 2003, Hanaway became the first woman Speaker of the House. She served as Speaker for two years before deciding to run for Secretary of State, a race she lost to Democrat Robin Carnahan last November. Hanaway received her law degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, in 1990. She worked in private legal practice for three years before joining Senator Bond’s staff. She first won election to the Missouri House in 1998. Hanaway sponsored several pieces of legislation in the House, prominent among them is the legislation restructuring the state foster care and child welfare system.
The retirement announcement from U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor means the scrambling is already underway to fill the seat on the High Court. Many observers expected Chief Justice William Rehnquist to be the first of the current group of judges to retire, but Saint Louis University associate law professor Eric Claeys isn’t surprised. Claeys, who once clerked for Rehnquist, says that while the Chief Justice has health problems – Justice O’Conner and her husband have serious health concerns. Claeys expects social conservatives to do all they can to have a conservative nominated to the Bench, while liberals do what they can to prevent that from happening.
A decision by the US Supreme Court not to get involved in the case of two reporters threatened with jail time if they don’t disclose notes to a grand jury disappoints the Executive Director of Investigative Reporters and Editors. Brant Houston, who also teaches journalism at the University of Missouri, says though he’s disappointed, he believes the inaction by the Court will only have a minor impact. The courts had threatened both Time Magazine and the New York Times with heavy fines, and their reporters with jail time, if they failed to hand over material to the grand jury. Time, over the objection of its reporter, has decided to comply with the court order and hand over the material.