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Jewish World Review June 18, 2002 / 8 Tamuz, 5762

Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham
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Consumer Reports

Picking the next chief | It's that time of the year when we court-watchers start speculating on whether one of the Justices will announce his retirement from the Court. Monday's Washington Post goes front page with a piece about Justice Anthony Kennedy's ambitions to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Kennedy is extremely bright, very personable, but is not the best nominee for this pivotal post--at least not if you care about a strict constructionist approach to the Constitution.

He won the nickname "Flipper" after switching his vote in the 1992 abortion rights case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where he sided with the liberal side of a 5-4 split. Kennedy also joined the liberal majority in Romer v. Evans, a Colorado case dealing with a state constitutional amendment that would have barred anti-discrimination laws for gays. In his dissent, Justice Scalia blasted the Kennedy majority opinion as "long on emotive utterance and...short on relevant legal citation." And he was being charitable.

Justice Kennedy is also known for his unfortunate tendency toward public hand-wringing: "Sometimes you don't know if you're Caesar crossing the Rubicon or Captain Queeg cutting your own tow line," he told the California Lawyer magazine the day before the Court handed down the Casey decision. Yet despite some grand departures from a conservative jurisprudential outlook, Justice Kennedy has more often that not voted the right way in close criminal, affirmative action, and state rights decisions. Let's not forget he voted with the bare majority to stop the Florida recount in Bush v. Gore.

Justice Kennedy was confirmed in 1988 for the seat after the failed nominations of federal appeals court judges Robert Bork and Doug Ginsberg. In 14 years he hasn't proven to be the Justice that either of those men probably would have been had they been confirmed. In an ideal world, Scalia would be my choice for Chief Justice, but with a Democratic Senate that's about as likely as the President nominating me for a seat on the Court. Whatever the White House decides, remember the mistakes of the father -- No more Souters!

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JWR contributor Laura Ingraham is the host of a radio show syndicated nationally by Westwood One Radio Network. Comment by clicking here.

06/11/02: Intelligence coup, with much more to do
06/07/02: The Bush administration's foul ball
05/30/02: Post-feminism in the aftermath of 9-11
05/23/02: The press gunning for Ashcroft
05/19/02: El Jefe basks in Carter's Light
05/15/02: Former presidents who don't understand the word "former"
05/07/02: Ozzy deified, many mortified, drugs glorified?
05/01/02: Bush: "California here I come ... sort of"
04/27/02: The good news about conservatives versus Bush
04/17/02: While the cat's away....
04/09/02: Preview of 2004: See how Dick runs!
01/29/02: A kinder, gentler human-rights violator?
11/27/01: Military tribunals provide streamlined justice
09/07/01: Scariest animal wears pants
08/17/01: Depressed after seeing uncut version of Apocalypse Now --- and for good reason
07/20/01: The other, maybe more important, news
06/22/01: Washington's pro-Bono worship is unnerving
06/01/01: Burying conservatism
05/17/01: Ashcroft's abuse of power

© 2002, Laura Ingraham