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John Cornyn, Next Supreme Court Justice?

Hearing through multiple inside sources that President Bush is seriously considering Texas Senator John Cornyn to replace the outgoing Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.


Frankly, I am skeptical, and I would guess that Bush will nominate someone currently "in-robe," but there are many reasons it would make sense.

I. President Bush and John Cornyn go way back. President Bush knows Cornyn. He's worked with him. He's campaigned with him. He would be comfortable with his judicial philosophy, as well as his political ideology.

II. Moreover, Cornyn has been one of the more vocal Senators speaking out on behalf of President Bush's Circuit Court nominees.

III. Presidents typically prefer to nominate Justices from their state or region, because of the unique imprint such a nod can leave on the Court.

IV. Cornyn is supremely qualified. Prior to filling Senator Phil Gramm's Senate seat in 2002, Cornyn served for three years as the Attorney General of the State of Texas. From 1990-1999, Cornyn served on the Texas Supreme Court. Prior to that, he was a District Court judge in San Antonio for six years.

V. Conservative groups would rally behind Cornyn, while it is at the same time difficult to imagine left-wing groups mounting the kind of campaign necessary to obstruct a nominee against Cornyn. After all, it is difficult to imagine members of the Senate attacking Cornyn as viciously and personally as they have attacked other judicial nominees in recent years. And if Schumer and Kennedy, et al., do impugn Cornyn's integrity with hyperbolic nonsense, they will just look tacky.

VI. A special election in Texas to fill Cornyn's seat could send Henry Bonilla to the Senate, boosting President Bush's strategy to make the GOP more Latino-friendly.

VII. Cornyn's recent work on the eminent domain issue could serve as a rallying point for getting regular Americans behind the nomination.

VIII. Cornyn is relatively young, at age 53. He could be on the Supreme Court for 30 years, easily.

I just hope the debate does not get hung up on a single-minded obsession with the abortion issue, coming from either side, nor on a litany of issues.

It would be nice to know:

Where does the nominee stand on the line item veto?
Where does the nominee stand on eminent domain?
Where does the nominee stand on school choice?
Where does the nominee stand on the death penalty?
Where does the nominee stand on assisted suicide?
Where does the nominee stand on campaign finance laws?
Where does the nominee stand on the Patriot Act and other counter-terrorism measures?
Where does the nominee stand on citing foreign legal precedents?
Where does the nominee stand on gay marriage?
Where does the nominee stand on the Pledge of Allegiance?
Where does the nominee stand on the Ten Commandments in public places?
Where does the nominee stand on drug laws?
Where does the nominee stand on affirmative action?
Where does the nominee stand on the 2nd amendment?
Where does the nominee stand on business and labor regulation?
Where does the nominee stand on free trade?

While focusing exclusively on the abortion issue is silly, no single issue should qualify or disqualify someone from the Supreme Court. There will be hundreds of issues in the coming decades that we cannot even imagine, issues with competing principles at stake.

More important is how the nominee views federalism, separation of powers, and the Constitution itself.

Will the nominee legislate from the bench?
Will the nominee always adhere to stare decisis (following past rulings)?

The President, I am positive, will look at the big picture, rather than focusing on any single issue or handful of issues. A nominee's overall judicial philosophy is far more informative than the nominee's stances on a small number of hot-button issues.

After all, our world is a rapidly changing world. In the future there will be entirely new kinds of technological, legal, and moral issues popping up for our society. After several years, Supreme Court Justices almost always become part of the elite Washington establishment, so it would be nice to know that, if and when new issues appear on the legal landscape, the nominee would not sway too much with the prevailing winds inside the beltway.

On the retirement of Justice O'Connor, Senator Cornyn praised O'Connor for her service, noting:

“I’m confident that the President’s nominee to replace Justice O’Connor will be an able jurist and among our nation’s finest legal minds, but I am less confident of the treatment that nominee will receive from the President’s opponents. During the past four years, we have seen unprecedented obstruction, partisanship, and venomous personal attacks dominate the Senate’s judicial confirmation process. But the process ahead offers a fresh start, one that must be guided by an appreciation of the high office involved, and a personal respect for the individuals who stand as nominees.”

Earlier on Fox News, John Cornyn said that he had not received a call from the President on the issue, and that he enjoyed his job as Senator.

So we'll see. I am doubtful. But I am hearing from multiple independent sources that Cornyn is the buzz candidate within the inner circles of those crafting the decision.

By the way, go check out this humorous advertisement from UporDownVote.com:


It's good to see conservatives finally prepared for the left-wing onslaught that necessarily happens in these situations, going back to the infamous character assassination of Robert Bork.

Even funnier is this satirical news release: "President Bush Temporarily Nominates Judge Judy Until A Real Justice Is Confirmed":




More on this rumor/trial balloon (via Daly Thoughts).

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 July 2005 03:13 PM


I think there's a lot of weight to replace a woman with a woman or at least a minority candidate.

IMO it would make them a little harder to filibuster in the court of public approval/perception... though I also think Dems are going to fight anyone Bush appoints, regardless.

Posted by: Hoodlumman at July 1, 2005 04:19 PM

As much as I love the idea of John Cornyn...?And I really do! Hoodlumman is right about a woman or minority. *** Judge Judy would not be a bad choice! As funny as that may seem... In all reality we could use Judge Judy! OR at least someone like her. Then again! ...Who is like Judge Judy?
John Cornyn would be my pick! BUT ... I think we are governed by "POLITICAL CORRECCTNESS "( so to speak )
Judge Judy would be my next pick ...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at July 1, 2005 04:58 PM

The President has a good record of identifying and appointing qualified minority candidates to the federal courts, so I am not sure that O'Connor must be replaced by a woman or minority. I think Cornyn would make an absolutely great Supreme.

Posted by: bill at July 1, 2005 07:10 PM

Who is "Judge Judge"?

Posted by: Gerry at July 2, 2005 12:04 AM

Oops. Judge Judy.

Posted by: Will Franklin at July 2, 2005 12:21 AM

How about John Cornyn and Emilio Garza now (presuming Rhenquist retires) and Janice Rodgers Brown when Stevens retires/keels over? Rodgers Brown, as the first African-American woman nominated would be much harder for the Democrats to stop. And Clarence Thomas as Chief Justice because he's a) qualified and an originalist and b) he'd be such a controversial pick that it would draw attention away from the others.

Posted by: fatman at July 2, 2005 09:49 AM

Fatman...the Dems. don't care about qualifications! As long as the nomination is not left they will oppose and fillibuster!

Posted by: bill at July 2, 2005 12:10 PM

Judy! Judy! Judy!... I was doing my Cary Grant impersonation!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at July 2, 2005 01:02 PM

I just can't get behind someone who equated a man with a turtle -- http://flickr.com/photos/48600079942@N01/101703/

Posted by: John at July 2, 2005 03:37 PM

I have information that Will Franklin was once a big fan of the turtle... Supposedly he once housed 3 turtles in his garage and was a big fan of the teenage mutant ninja turtles... I would be careful with what you say about turtles on WILLisms.com

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at July 3, 2005 11:42 AM

Hello!...Get ready for the fillibustering to begin!

Posted by: Cindy T. at July 3, 2005 12:54 PM

Here come the Judge! Here come the judge! Order in the court cause here come the judge!

Posted by: Anonymous at July 3, 2005 04:46 PM