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ROMAN HRUSKA GETS HIS WISH

If you are of a certain age and a political junkie, you may remember Senator Roman Hruska (R-Neb) who famously defended (and damned with faint praise) one of President Nixon's poorly credentialed (and ultimately failed) Supreme Court nominees by saying, "Even the mediocre deserve representation." Well, good news, Senator Hruska. We've now got a Supreme Court filled with mediocrities.

Think about it. Can you think of one, just one, noteworthy thing any of the nine justices did before being nominated to the High Court? No, I didn't think so.

Past courts were populated with legal titans, who were highly recognized as such before being admitted to the Supreme Court. A few examples through the ages: John Marshall fought in the American Revolution, was instrumental in Virginia's ratifying the U.S. Constitution, and served as Secretary of State; Louis Brandeis was a noted social activist and author of pioneering legal tracts on privacy law before the Court; Charles Evans Hughes was a presidential nominee, NY governor and prominent progressive reformer. There are so many more, but you get the idea. Of more recent note, we saw towering legal figures, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. But now? Bupkis.


I think it goes back to the late '80's, when an undeniably qualified man, Robert Bork (helped defuse the Watergate era Saturday Night Massacre, served as Solicitor General, wrote landmark treatises), was rejected because of his conservative views. Prior to Bork, the Senate's primary objective was to make sure the nominee was qualified. Starting with Bork, it's become politicized, with the candidate's views taking precedence. As a result, in order to gain confirmation for his choice, the president has had to choose nonentities, who have left virtually no distinguishable make on the legal profession so that they can't be criticized, and as such win approval.

I've heard the term "Confederacy of Dunces." I never dreamed that would comprise the make up of the Supreme Court. BTW, the politicization of the court crosses party lines. Fun fact: the Senate Judiciary chairman at the time of the Bork hearings wherein this downward spiral started was Joseph R. Biden.

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