Did Anthony Kennedy ever sniff glue? And other stories of nominations past

Last week, after Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, Donald Trump declared, “Outside of war and peace, of course, the most important decision you make is the selection of a Supreme Court judge.” As we await Trump’s announcement on Monday of this most important decision, let’s take a gander at the history of nominations past.

1. In 1990, when George H.W. Bush was casting about to replace retired Supreme Court justice William Brennan, the consensus candidate in the White House was Ken Starr.

2. Starr got nixed by Dick Thornburgh, who was Bush’s Attorney General. Thornburgh thought Starr was too much of a squish, not sufficiently hard-right, especially about presidential power.

3. Today, Thornburgh is one of Trump’s most prominent conservative critics, claiming that Trump poses a radical threat to the rule of law and Republican values.

4. Bush settled on David Souter as his nominee.

5. Three years earlier, the Reagan White House had briefly considered Souter after Robert Bork’s nomination went down in flames.

6. Souter was scotched when Reagan’s people discovered he had joined a New Hampshire Supreme Court decision declaring that gay men and women had a constitutional right to run day-care centers.

7. Reagan settled on Anthony Kennedy instead.

8. Kennedy was considered safe. He offered the Reaganites reassuring answers to literally hundreds of questions about his personal life.

9. Among other questions, Kennedy was asked:

Did he have sex in junior high?

If he had sex in college, where did he do it?

Had he ever had sex with another man?

Did he ever have kinky sex?

Had he ever had herpes?

Did he sniff glue?

10. This is how constitutional law gets made. Before the norms eroded.

One Comment

  1. Chris Morlock July 6, 2018 at 8:35 pm | #

    Considering Gorsuch deflected all meaning in all questions (I think he was spared the one about sniffing glue) and the Dems offered little to no “resistance” I don’t see this next pick being anything other than a rubber stamp. It is not the hill to die on, considering all Trump has done is to replace two conservatives for two conservatives. In the end, we might see two originalists come from one. The third is the hill to die on in my opinion.

    The interesting issue will be if the left populism can convince people on the basis of reproductive rights to mess with this appointee and get a Bork situation. Gorsuch has proved to be as bad as any left critic proposed (although this seemed to be not so clear based on his decisions in the past to me, at least at the time) so this time we have that collective memory still fresh- it’s less about the individual nominated and more about the individual nominating.

    I think the issue in the midterms will be constructed like this:

    1) Immigration alliance (humanist leftists with corporate open border dems)
    2) SCOTUS pick (repro rights advocates with neocons looking for a way back in to power)

    Will this tide be enough?? I don’t see economic justice in this equation, at least not specifically.

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