In the wake of this discussion of progressives and their non-existent (or dysfunctional) relationship with the federal court system, I'm pointed via email to this article discussing the same issue.
In it, University of Georgia law professor Sonja West asks: "Why won’t progressives fight for federal judges?" and launches into an interesting examination.
First, the problem (my emphasis):
The lack of concern about or willingness to fight for judicial nominees by one party is a serious weakness in our current political system. If one side cares intensely about the courts and the other side doesn’t, what you get is a long-term bias in one direction. This growing imbalance shouldn’t just worry progressives. It should alarm anyone who believes a range of voices on the courts is essential.That last statement is both powerful and true. To paraphrase:
Yet Democrats have a nagging blind spot for fully comprehending that when it comes to advancing the issues they care about, judges aren’t just important but indispensible. If disillusioned Democrats are wondering whether it matters whether President Obama gets a second term, they should look no further than the aging faces of the nine justices at the Supreme Court. And the thousands of demonstrators at Occupy Wall Street need to understand that many of the very things they’re protesting against are the direct consequences of decades spent by progressives deprioritzing judicial appointments.
OWS protesters need to understand that much of what they're protesting against are caused by several decades [at least 30 years] of progressives not caring enough about judicial appointments.We're doing it to ourselves. Progressives are getting the country we're getting because of our choices — not as individuals, for the most part, but certainly as a group, a "coalition." When the Right builds a media outlet to get its message out (Fox News, say), it allows that outlet to operate at a loss for as long as it takes. Why? Because the Right is on a mission.
When the Left builds a media outlet (Air America, say), it forces that outlet to turn a profit or go under. Why? Because the Left is out to lunch.
And that's especially true when the subject is the courts. As I wrote earlier:
While the Federalist Society Right, with its corp-first ideology, has been fighting a 30-year battle to pack the U.S. court system with cronies and fellow radicals (my phrase again), the left has been going on long champagne lunches, enjoying the fruits of our national postwar wealth, and assuming this will always be their daddy's USA. It won't.Where would we be today if Air America were allowed to run free? And where would we be if we fought for good judges and against bad ones with the same fervor (and skill) as our opponents?
Back to West's article. Where I see complacency, West sees a lack of good prioritization:
What modern Democrats crave instead are legislative victories—health care, immigration reform, social support systems, and environmental protections. And that leaves little left over in the political capital checking account to spend on judges. Democrats, of course, aren’t going to kick a liberal court out of bed for eating crackers, but they don’t want to push for one at the expense of other matters. In the first two years of the Obama Administration alone, the President and Congress could have appointed a slew of new federal judges, but they chose to work on other things. These other things, while important, came at the expense of judges.Could well be true. The article is good — it reads well and makes the case. It also details some of the (many) losses caused by only caring about Supreme Court nominations. Please check it out.
I'll just add that this is not a problem that defies solution. Unlike electoral politics and the problem of taking over the Senate or the House (or the Democratic party), controlling the courts can be achieved by controlling a very small number of pressure points (I count three).
I'll offer more detail shortly; it's not rocket science to design this as an "op" or a project. This is incredibly important, and one side of the solution (playing on defense) requires just one determined person.
Playing to win; wouldn't it be nice to move the ball the other way for a change? We might even score some points of our own. Stay tuned.