Monthly Archives: February 2016

Jackson List: Hugo L. Black, Born February 27, 1886

This post, including a photograph of Robert Jackson and Senator Hugo Black in the 1930s, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: A Great Jurist Gone, A Great Seat Now Sadly Empty

This post, including photographs of Justice Jackson’s and Justice Scalia’s seats on the Supreme Court bench, shrouded in black following their respective deaths in 1954 and 2016, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

President Bush’s 1990 Appointment of Justice David Souter

A blog post by Anton Piatigorsky caught my eye.  It repeats, in part, the fairly widespread belief that when Justice William J. Brennan, a leading, long-serving liberal justice, retired from the Supreme Court in 1990, President George H.W. Bush looked to replace Brennan with a stealth arch-conservative.  Former Governor John Sununu, from New Hampshire and then Bush’s White House chief of staff, has said as much.  And, the belief continues, the eventual Bush nominee, then-Judge David Souter, also of New Hampshire, turned out to be a huge disappointment if not a traitor to how he presented himself to the president and why he (Souter) was nominated.

I don’t think that holds up.  For example, I don’t think that President Bush ever said that that’s what he sought in Souter.  I also don’t think that there is evidence that that is the vetting and assessment of Souter that occurred at the president’s level.

What Bush was seeking was, by all accounts, a problem-free, no paper trail, quality, Republican-type nominee—who, yes, as a replacement for Justice Brennan, almost by definition had the potential to shift the Supreme Court rightward.

Tinsley Yarborough describes in his biography of Justice Souter (click here) how Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, Souter’s old boss and close friend and also a friend to Sununu and President Bush, was Souter’s principal recommender and really the cause of his nomination.  Sen. Rudman was a Republican but not of the slash/burn type; in fact, in many instances he was quite moderate and non-partisan.

Bush Rudman Souter

As Yarborough recounts, Rudman suggested the Souter nomination to Sununu and Bush and it all rolled quickly from there, including that no one ever vetted Souter for or had a basis to determine that he would be the determined anti-Brennan.  Based on the historical record (such as we can see it), while many on the farther right were disappointed in the jurist that Justice Souter turned out to be, I’m skeptical that President Bush is or that the late Senator Rudman was in that group.  And I’m very skeptical that they would have a basis, given how Souter was vetted and picked, to feel that way.

In picking Justice Souter, President Bush went for huge smarts, relevant experience and no paper trail.  He wanted a problem-free nominee and he got him.  Bush never asked litmus test questions—which Souter would have refused to answer anyway.

Please get her to the polls!

Here is a CNN report on Clarina (“Mimi”) Hudon of Manchester, New Hampshire.  Born in 1905, she now is age 110.  She is believed to be the oldest person in the state.

If Mrs. Hudon had been born a little earlier, she would not have been able to vote when she reached adulthood. But when she was fifteen years old, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the vote, was ratified.  In 1928, she voted in her first presidential election, casting her vote for the Democrat, New York governor Al Smith.

Mrs. Hudon knows of Hillary Clinton.  And now she’s heard of Bernie Sanders.

Some New Hampshire official should make it possible for her to vote next Tuesday, for one of them or for whomever.