Mr. Justice Clinton

Prof. Douglas Kmiec suggests that Hillary Clinton, if elected, could have her husband follow the footsteps of former President Taft by appointing him to the Supreme Court. Taft was, in fact, a very good Chief Justice after being a failure as President, a job for which he never had the talent or desire.
Prof. Kmiec gets right some of the obvious problems with this parallel: Clinton, unlike Taft, has no prior judicial experience and loves politics much more than the law; Clinton, unlike Taft, would presumably not be taking the Chief Justice job; and Taft, unlike Clinton, never had his law license suspended for perjury in a judicial proceeding.
What Prof. Kmiec misses is the showstopper* – even beyond losing him as a campaigner – that would prevent Hillary Clinton, especially, from considering this: confirmation hearings. Nobody in her right mind who was at all sympathetic to Bill Clinton would ever want to see the man testify under oath again. And given the tendency of modern confirmation hearings to delve into any and all scandals in the nominee’s past, hearings with Bill Clinton as the nominee would be both exhaustively lengthy and acrimonious and potentially uniquely damaging to Hillary personally. Assuming the Democrats hold control of the Senate they could potentially try to quash much questioning at the hearings, but even Republicans who hold principled objections to filibustering judges would be on firm ground blocking a floor vote until the Judiciary Committee was willing to hold a full hearing on the nominee.
I suppose in theory, I could imagine Hillary pulling such a stunt as a deliberate provocation and/or for the express purpose of breaking the tradition of such hearings. But I think it far more likely that she would avoid at any cost the spectacle of William Jefferson Clinton being sworn in to testify anywhere ever again.

* – I confess that I don’t know whether there would also be legal problems with appointing a spouse to a federal judgeship, but since Prof. Kmiec refers to anti-nepotism laws precluding a Bill Clinton role in Hillary’s Cabinet, I assume or at least hope he considered this angle.

13 thoughts on “Mr. Justice Clinton”

  1. I get a sense of the Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire from this notion that future President Clinton would appoint former President Clinton to the Supreme Court. It would be a figurative fifty yard pass completion in the rush to completely ruin a tradition of serious jurisprudence. Of course Kehoe, R vs. W, allowing McCain-Feingold to go forward etc. have already made a mockery of the Supreme Court.
    In some ways, I’d be fascinated to see how ex-President Clinton could outdo some of the outlandish nonsense that has oozed forth from this once august body. Does anyone suspect he would agree with Justice Kennedy that current practices in Europe obligate the US to ignore it’s own effective Constitution?Yes, yes, onward Madame President.
    I swear this stuff brings out my own worst instincts.

  2. I am opposed to such a nomination, but not for your reasons Crank. And the enormous amount of judicial experience Clarence Thomas brought to the table means that such experience doesn’t count as much as politics does.
    However, Bill Clinton is not qualified to be a Supreme Court judge (I can see him as ambassador to the UN however), and frankly, after 20 years of family dynasties, the sooner we get the Bush and Clinton families out of politics, the better I will feel.

  3. In the event that Daryl’s hopes of an end to dynasties to does not occur, I somehow think that Madame President would have problems enough without committing an unforced error of appointing fomer-President Clinton to this office. I don’t like her, but I do think she has at least that much political instinct. I would assume that she needs the least possible controversy, and keeping her supposed husband away from high visibility arenas would be a good first step, assuming she really wants to get anything done. There are any number of liberal thinking relativists who will be happy to shred the Constitution to her liking, and who at the same time will not be caught with thieir reproductive organs in the mouths of some pea-brained intern stupid enough to believe some dopey lies.

  4. Yes, supposed husband. What do you call a man who disrespects his wife to the extent that he has?
    This is nothing more than what we and everybody else know about a marriage that has been a bad joke for years.

  5. I think the even more obvious problem than the difficulty of confirmation would be that, if confirmed, he would have to recuse himself from every case that touched on the Executive branch for the duration of Hillary’s Presidency, thus likely leading to Hillary losing a lot of cases.

  6. Just for kicks, I decided it was time to actually read the article to see if Kmiec was kidding. I can’t say for sure, but IMHO it looks like he wrote something that was silly just to see what people would say.
    I would enjoy the confirmation hearings. All those questions about the Constitutional implications of the word “is”. Just to join in the fun, I nominate Caligula’s horse for the Supreme Court.

  7. NRA Life Member,
    Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t realize you were privy to the inner workings of other people’s marriages.
    Do you think ALL marriages happen for the same reason(s)?
    Do you expect both spouses in a marriage to be full equals in every way? i.e. They each provide exactly 50% of domestic work, they each provide exactly 50% of the revenue brought into a marriage, etc.
    Or could you see a situation where one spouse provides the bulk of bringing in revenue, the other spouse provides the bulk of domestic work? i.e trade-offs/ agreements where each spouse gets what they need from the other.
    If you agree with the second situation, you would have to know precisely what the agreements and expectations were between both spouses in the marriage.
    If you are so close to the Clintons that you could be 100% positive of each spouses agreements and expectations of their marriage, then I concede your point.
    What I don’t concede is that “everyone else knows about a marriage…”
    I’m part of “everyone else” and I don’t know either Clinton personally at all, nor do I know the inner workings, agreements, expectations, nor arrangements of their marriage.
    BTW, the next time you get together with them, tell Hillary I’m still upset about her Iraq War vote in October 2002 and tell Bill he should have done more about the draconian drug laws that put so many non-violent marijuana users in prison when he was President.

  8. You know Robert, normally I am not privy to any of that stuff, but in this case it became public knowledge while you were hiding under a rock. If you need to have a pissing match over the Clintons, go find another partner.

  9. Maybe Jeb Bush can be Prez in 2012 and appoint his brother, G.W., to the Supreme Court? We all know HE’S completely honest, and smart too. Is 4 years enough time to get a law degree…
    Why keep fiddling while Rome burns? You can’t pretend this outlandish story is “blog-worthy” while continually ignoring far more disastrous outcomes perpetrated by Bush…

  10. Sorry NRA. I can’t help myself when I see someone pontificating about something they know NOTHING about.
    BTW, It couldn’t have been too bad, they’re still together.
    Hopefully the point about of the original post will be moot. After this latest disaster, the US should be fed-up with Republican Presidents for a good long time. Even if they are moderate Republicans like Hillary.

  11. One of Bill James’ lesser-known works, I think, but one of my two or three favorites, is the Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers. In it, he wrote the following about Leo Durocher:
    “There were managers before Durocher who drank, swore, chased women, bet horses, and screamed at umpires – but they were, in some fundamental way, ‘responsible’ men…
    Durocher didn’t give a shit what you thought of him….He was a rogue. He dressed in flashy clothes, drove flashy cars, drove too fast, took a punch at anybody who crossed him, made a pass at every woman he took a liking to, and bragged when he scored…
    In a sense, all managers in the generation before Durocher (and most managers after) were paternal managers…Durocher was more like an older brother, not that much older, and certainly not much more responsible. Other managers did bed checks. Durocher, in effect, gave his players permission to hit the bars and woo women until all hours…”
    I really hope this is just a wild theory by Prof. Kmiec, and not something that ever has any real potential, because what James wrote about Durocher is exactly how appointing Bill to the Court would feel. It is a strange thing, but having survived Bill’s administration, we know we can get by for a little while with a filthy, white trash ass-bandit as our president. Maybe that’s why, at this stage, the Court seems to hold greater dignity and responsibility than the presidency, and putting a guy like Bill on it would be like giving like giving the keys to the Rolls to the town drunk.

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