July 7, 2005


Gonzales for the Supreme Court (RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR., July 6, 2005, THE San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE)

Personally, it wouldn't surprise me if President Bush nominated his old friend to the court. There are three reasons. One, it's a plum appointment, and Bush tends to give those to people he likes and trusts, like Gonzales. Two, the Harvard Law School graduate and former Texas Supreme Court justice has the right kind of top-drawer credentials. And three, Gonzales has the added benefit of being in a position to help the president and the Republican Party win the hearts and minds of America's largest minority for a generation or more.

You see, if Bush follows through on his promise to appoint a Hispanic to the Supreme Court, that simple act should settle the question about which party is serious about inclusion. It won't matter how many mariachi events Democrats plan, or how much chips and salsa they lay out in future elections, a lot of Hispanics will embrace the Republicans as the new party of opportunity. [...]

I have a couple of Hispanic friends in the Bush administration who have their own ideas about why Gonzales might not be headed to the Supreme Court anytime soon.

Over dinner about a month ago, they laid out their argument. It's not that they wouldn't love to see it happen. Nothing would make them happier – or more proud – than to see the man who made history by becoming the first Hispanic attorney general make more history by becoming the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court. And it's not that they have doubts about Gonzales' qualifications, credentials, temperament or people skills. He could do the job – and do it well.

It's just politics, they said. They predicted that Bush would use his first Supreme Court appointment to try to assuage far-right elements of the GOP by appointing a hard-line conservative.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 7, 2005 12:00 AM


Posted by: ghostcat at July 7, 2005 1:00 AM

Mollify us moon-bayers. Then we won't whimper so much when Gonzales gets picked for one of the many seats soon to open up.

Posted by: b at July 7, 2005 1:20 AM

Promises were made; promises must be kept.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 7, 2005 9:39 AM

What promise does Alberto Gonzales not fulfill? Is Alberto Gonzales not exactly the kind of judge Mr. Bush should have been expected to appoint, having done so already?

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2005 10:10 AM

The ACLU got Ginsburg; the GOP should get Estrada, Roberts, Luttig, or someone equivalent, no?

And what about Professor Instapundit's suggestions to name a libertarian, like Alex Kozinski or even Volokh to the court? Wouldn't that shake things up? The social conservatives might just get higher blood pressure than the left on that count.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 7, 2005 11:17 AM

Alberto Gonzales is a Republican, no?

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2005 11:24 AM

So was Jeffords.

Posted by: jefferson park at July 7, 2005 12:36 PM

And "Lancelot Linc" Chaffee still is, despite all evidence to the contrary. If he were"Hispanic", would that mean he's acceptable, too?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 7, 2005 1:16 PM


A court appointment would give the Republican governor a chance to name someone more conservative for that Senate seat.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2005 1:20 PM

Infantile: When demands for immediate gratification trump investments for long-term gain. Especially when the immediate demands center around one or two issues.

Face it, folks. There is no political consensus for banning early term abortions and the more benign forms of affirmative action. Even if SCOTUS knocked out the federal underpinnings, the states would hold firm.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 7, 2005 2:27 PM

ghostcat--You've just made the point as to why Roe was a catastrophic decision for American civic life.

Posted by: b at July 7, 2005 2:45 PM

Hmmm, if Souter, Kennedy et al, are examples of "long term gains" that Republicans have enjoyed so far, maybe we should give immediate gratification a chance.

I say Garza for Chief Justice and JRB for Associate Justice, but Gonzales doesn't bother me that much.

Posted by: jefferson park at July 7, 2005 2:58 PM


There is no national consensus for banning any form of abortion, if referenda are any guide, but there was no national consensus behind Brown v Board of Education either.

As for affirmative action, there is practically universal opposition(aside from househusbands and layabouts like OJ) to it from White men, who are the backbone of the GOP. And an overwhelming majority of all Americans oppose any government-sponsored form of it.

Let's face it. Decent Republicans are deathly afraid that Bush will wimp out like his father and nominate a David Souter type. We need to be convinced that Gonzales is not one. I don't think he is, but I'm not certain and posts like yours don't help matters.

Posted by: bart at July 7, 2005 3:34 PM

b -

Agreed. "Roe" was bad law. And bad politics. Should have been fought out on more neighborly turf.

bart -

"Brown" was also bad law and bad politics. The remedial action went way too far. And Thomas is not a wimp.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 7, 2005 3:58 PM


I didn't say Thomas was. What I did say was that the choice of Souter was wimping out. Your only responses are to agree with me that he wimped out on Souter, or to claim that he was snookered by Sununu and that walking oil-slick Warren Rudman.

'Brown' was bad law? So, I can put you down in the 'Separate But Equal' camp then?

Posted by: bart at July 7, 2005 4:05 PM

bart -

Your response strikes me as joylessly linear and literal. That sure takes the magic out of tap-dancing.

Re: Thomas. Who nominated him?

Re: Souter. He's an odd duck, inclined (most of the time) to protect the rights of the individual against the predations of the majority. A worthy cause. Be careful what you wish for.

Re: "Brown". Nice try. Forced integration and the destruction of local communities was not a nifty outcome. Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 7, 2005 4:31 PM

Brown reached the right result but stinks as reasoned law. The court relied on sociology mainly, not an interpretation of the consitution. And the post-Brown remedies hurt more than helped. If the court said separate is ok but they must be dollar for dollar equal, I think the effect would have been better in the long run.

Posted by: Bob at July 7, 2005 4:36 PM

Reading articles about Gonzales in the NYTimes and WSJ yesterday, I am no longer convinced that Gonzales is as squishy as his detractors think he is.

The chief claims against him arrise out of a case under the Texas parental notification of abortion statute which had, as required by SCOTUS a judicial by-pass provision. Gonzales read the statute as written, and jabbed Pricilla Ownen for trying to narrow the by-pass.

To me it is more important to read it as written than to be anti or pro anything.

The second gripe with Gonzales is the briefs that were filed by the government in the affirmative action case (Grutter). The anti-aa people wanted a full denunciation of AA, but business groups wanted to be sheltered from any second guessing of what they have already done, and the military wanted to be left to its own devices. The results were political.

I will have to go along with Bush on whoever he selects, because he will be the only one who talked to them about their real ideas. If its Gonzales, I don't think I will have a problem with it.

However, I don't think Bush will appoint Gonzales and then have to go hire a new AG. I think he might do it in 2007, but not now. Gonzales was appointed AG this year. I don't think Bush as an executive wants to shuffle his people that quickly. He knew that there was likely to be an opening this year, and I don't think he would have appointed Gonzales to AG and then have to replace him 6 months later.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 7, 2005 4:44 PM


I'll agree with you on the progeny of Brown, but they were not a necessary outcome. All that was needed was to remove race from the calculus, that race is not a permitted basis for exclusion or inclusion.

'Affirmative action' is the pernicious result of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and is directly contrary to its legislative history. Read then Senator Humphrey's arguments in its favor.

Busing to achieve racial integration was merely another judicially invented doctrine to achieve an outcome. Brown provides no other remedy than letting kids into neighborhood schools, not schlepping them across counties to far-off communities with which they have no nexus, as was done in Kansas City and Charlotte.


'...equal protection of the laws...' seems pretty obvious to me. The idea of 'separate but equal' was always unattainable. There isn't a multi-ethnic society from Quebec to Israel to Belgium where the majority group doesn't vote itself greater benefits out of the public trough. The notion that Americans are any different is a pipe dream.

Posted by: bart at July 7, 2005 4:52 PM

Bob -

Forced integration across large school districts has destroyed entire cities and counties. A child's school should be as close as possible to family and neighborhood.

I'd settle for (1) equal funding throughout a given school district, and (2) equivalent funding among economically similar districts. Equal funding for all schools ... statewide? nationally? ... seems a bridge too far.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 7, 2005 4:58 PM

The story of Dallas schools is one of the funniest/saddest stories I've heard in a long time. After years of litigation, in the early 1970's a judge took over the district, arguing they were ignoring Brown and still segregated. I believe the district was something like 60/40 black. In 2003 a judge stated that the district was finally satisfactorily desegregated. At that time the district was something like 97% black.

Posted by: b at July 7, 2005 5:11 PM

Sadly ... but not at all surprisingly ... the Dallas story is more the rule than the exception.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 7, 2005 5:27 PM

Gonzales is extremely worrisome to many on 2nd-Amendment grounds, too.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at July 7, 2005 5:52 PM

Kirk: I should like to point out that the Second Amendment restricts only the Federal Government. Most states have similar provisions, e.g. Ohio:

Article 1 - Bill of Rights
Section 1.04 Bearing arms; standing armies; military powers (1851)

The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 7, 2005 6:36 PM