Editor's Note: In one of our most popular features last issue, Susan Eisenhower points out that her grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower, appointed moderate, conservative, and progressive justices to the Supreme Court, believing the judicial body should represent all American people. Here are some of over 450 comments we received from readers in response. Don't forget to sign up to follow us on our Facebook page, where we constantly publish new material.
But these appointments were before Roe and many other decisions that were way out of bounds and poorly supported by the Constitution. Not a very good comparison. Now with a full blown culture war a lot of us would like to go back to the 60’s. The well has been poisoned.
-- Bob Shillingstad, Hayden, Idaho
Anti-racists in the White House
I enjoyed your story about Supreme Court appointments on a couple of levels. The fact that most people have no idea how many good things several Presidents did. Particularly Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Johnson. Nixon will be always remembered for the mistakes he made and not for the accomplishments.
All four appear to be at their core antiracist. Nixon certainly used the dog whistle of racism to get elected, but behind the scenes he made major strides against it. Eisenhower and Truman were also low keyed in their approach to ending racist, but they did make strides. Of course, Johnson coming from the home of deep racist, just stood up and shoved equal rights down the throats of the congress.
Until we as a county can get over the idea that somehow the color of skin is a big thing we can never achieve our potential as a nation. By the way, I think of myself as a conservative Republican and a Kansas Farmer.
-- Charles Altair
Reform the Court
Although I’m concerned that it will lead to a further diminishing of the highest court, I believe if Democrats win the White House and the Senate while holding the House, they should reform the Supreme Court.
The last several appointees have been made by Presidents who lost the popular vote. Several recent decisions regarding Citizens United and Gerrymandering seem contrary to democratic principles and signal that something is very wrong with the current court, and if the latest nominee is seated, it will surely be worse.
Minority rule seems to be a troubling trend and represents an existential threat to our democracy.
Reforming the highest court will also help to contradict the stolen Federal Judge appointments orchestrated by Mitch McConnell. Working to restore the justice system to, more closely, align with the values of the Constitution and the American people might save the country from great civil unrest and further deterioration of a cohesive society.
-- Sarah Crozier
No More Statesmen
It just goes to show that there are no more statesmen or stateswomen in this country, just party politicians. Unfortunately, Ike's idealism would never fly in today's highly charged political and, might I add, extremist environment. It certainly makes sense for a 9-member court to reflect diverse views if it is going to make decisions for 320,000,000 diverse individuals. Positions by politicians today seem to be taken only to win extremists' votes and not the centrists' concerns. Dare I say it's the silent majority's votes that are taken for granted. Maybe Spiro Agnew was on to something?
-- Patrick Natarelli
"In God We Trust"
Unfortunately, this again shows how far we have come politically. Once was a time when there was a fairness doctrine and leaders acted for the good of the country rather than themselves or their party. Nowadays one party will spend nearly all its resources trying to destroy the other and never mind dividing our once mighty country. "In God We Trust"
-- Skip Reynolds
Barrett Not a Republican
In several instances you make claims that Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a Republican. This is not true. She IS a conservative minded, textual originalist in regards to the law, and has voted in both Democrat and Republican primaries over her tenures. While I agree that ‘balancing’ of the courts by a President has some merit, party affiliation is utterly irrelevant! They are not appointed to ‘follow’ Republican or Democrat platforms and tenants. They ARE appointed to apply the LAW, as written, and precedent dictates.
-- Gary Moore, Texas
SCOTUS in Congress
This topic of “balancing” the Supreme Court, and achieving that goal in a manner paralleling ‘fairness’ in its political structure may not be done without making it law through an Amendment to the Constitution. Through the past seventy-plus years, we have bred professional politicians in this case dominated by specific left-wing advocates in our Congress. Without term limits there, I do not see where a fair and equitable legal procedure could be had.
What is being missed here, in my opinion, is allowing legal ascertations being made which, if judiciously challenged, would be unconstitutional. When any one political party becomes dominated and controlled by a faction which openly works to defeat or at least minimizes certain dictates in our Constitution, it should not be allowed. In other words, means for ways and means to rein in the power of Congress to pass a law which predictably will go to the Supreme Court.
By the time anything is brought before the SCOTUS, it will have gone through the length and breadth of our legal system, plus the additional right of the SCOTUS to refuse to take it on.
In this era of professional politicians, I feel that any matter brought before the Court may well be too little, too late, to have its decision capable of being the determining factor. I further feel that SCOTUS should be given ways and means to have an open voice inside Congress, aimed at keeping all legislation open and above-board to maintain its constitutionality, before it becomes law. This business of having to vote FOR a proposal before reading it should not be allowed.
-- Richard Williams
Party in Power
Forget political balance. That comes from the party in power. It eventually swings one way or the other. Conservative presidents should appoint people that their constituents wanted when they elected them. In fact all presidents should appoint judges that interpret the Constitution as written instead of legislating from the bench.
-- Bob Springer
Past and Present
Massive difference between then and now. In the Truman-Eisenhower days both parties loved the country and the differences were, relative to now, little quibbles, re: how to achieve goals the whole electorate agreed on. That has not been the case in this country for 20+ years IMHO.
-- Jim Walker
Ike Regretted Warren Pick
Eisenhower also appointed Warren as chief justice, who by the way was CA governor. He later said, "Damnedest fool thing I ever did." No one can be sure how a judge will rule once they are on the court. That is why we need judges who have a record of following the constitution as written and not those who feel it is their obligation to change it to fit their own view of "right".
-- Jim Henson
We as a nation and a people must come to an agreement as to the interpretation and application of our Constitution. The division is becoming seriously detrimental to the foundation of our country.
A house divided cannot stand...we have seen what this division has wrought...it will only get worse and eventually destroy us.
Our Constitution was founded on the principle of strong local government and a central government responsible for protecting our rights and liberties. Any political dogma supportive of stronger centralized government is antithetical to the Constitution.
-- Jim Schrader
No Identity Politics
What is sad is that neither party, sex, or religion should have to even be considered!! Whomever is nominated is supposed to be and should be totally neutral, highly skilled and experienced! Unfortunately this is not true now and hasn’t been for a long time. If it were the case, the president would simply pick the BEST, no matter what. Sadly this has become more political than many other “races.”
-- Mike Papania
The President can only suggest someone for the Supreme Court. The Senate must decide whether that person is qualified to sit on the Court as a Justice. Even Chief Justice Roberts said there were no Obama Judges nor Bush Judges, only Judges. Unless you desire to have biased Justices, you would never consider packing the Court to get your own agenda approved.
-- Joe Finch
Activism is Constitutional
Of course, the conservatives would look on the Warren court as being activist. What was so activist about the states following the 14th amendment, which basically says that everybody should get treated the same? Or how about the Miranda and Gideon decisions which has now been incorporated into the Miranda warnings? Or how about the decisions to remove teacher led prayer from the public schools (establishment clause)? They made their decisions following the text of the constitution.
-- Charlie Ilaria