When I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and again in 2004, my top priority was the federal judiciary. I trusted him to make solid appointments; he did. Two of the great legacies of Bush will be Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts and Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito. His legacy will also be examined through the war on terror and war in Iraq. The war fatigue, coupled with an economy in recession, gave Barack Obama a great electoral opportunity, which might allow him to moderate Bush’s judicial legacy with his own appointments. I write more about all this in this week’s Reasonably Right column. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Al Qaeda or their terrorist affiliates plotted operations against U.S. homeland targets, but American law enforcement and intelligence agencies thwarted them. A backgrounder by James Jay Carafano prepared for the Heritage Foundationlast year lists a few of the successes: Jose Padilla’s “dirty bomb” plan; the Lackawanna Six, a terrorist cell in Buffalo, New York; a scheme to collapse the Brooklyn Bridge; the Virginia Jihad Network; a plot to attack the New York Stock Exchange and other financial targets in New York, New Jersey, and Washington DC; a conspiracy to bomb a subway station near Madison Square Garden while hosting the Republican National Convention in 2004; an assassination plan against a Pakistani diplomat in New York City using a shoulder-fired grenade launcher; a plot to attack national guard facilities, synagogues and other sites in Los Angeles; targeted natural gas pipelines and oil refineries; an attempt to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago; a scheme to explode 10 commercial airliners headed to New York, Washington DC and California; a planned attack on Fort Dix in New Jersey; and more that we know about, as well as others undisclosed by the government.
Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, both the Bush administration and Al Qaeda recognized that country as the central battleground in the war on terror. More than 4,200 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, more than 60 with significant Mississippi ties.
And here are a few notes on Obama’s judicial opportunities.
Bush appointed and the Senate confirmed 61 appeals court justices, fewer than President Bill Clinton’s 65. Fifteen current Bush nominees will not be confirmed, those vacancies to be filled by President Obama who will make significant shifts in the judiciary during his tenure.
A report by Pamela MacLean in the National Law Journal suggests Obama’s appointments could turn seven of the 13 circuit courts into Democrat majority appointed benches, joining the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which currently has that unique distinction. Mississippi is in the 5th Circuit, which is not expected to shift from its conservative leanings within four years. Congress may create an additional 14 new federal judgeships, which would provide Obama an opportunity to even further shape the judiciary.
On the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens will be nearly 89 at the swearing-in of his fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama. Stevens is two years from being the oldest justice and four years from being the longest serving justice in Supreme Court history. He, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 75, and David Souter, 69, all hail from the Court’s liberal wing and are most mentioned as possible retirees.
You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal online: Perry/Bush legacies, Obama opportunities