In the end, the only way to ensure that President Obama can pick someone who will carry on in Justice Ginsburg’s tradition is for the vacancy to occur this summer. Indeed, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who will turn 76 this summer, should also carefully consider the possibility of stepping down this year.
Some might question whether a justice should be so calculating in choosing when to retire. But not doing so ignores the reality that ideology matters enormously in Supreme Court decision-making. This is nothing new; ideology always has mattered, and which president fills vacancies on the court can have an impact for decades. If, for example, Al Gore or John Kerry rather than President George W. Bush had replaced William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor in 2005, a liberal majority would likely have endured on the court for the next few decades. Conversely, if John McCain had replaced David Souter and John Paul Stevens, there would be a solid conservative majority and Roe vs. Wade surely would have been overruled already.
On April 4, 2012 the FBI held a daylong “strategy meeting” with TransCanada Corporation, the company building the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, according to documents obtained by Earth Island Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request. The meeting, which took place in the agency’s Oklahoma City Field Office, came just three weeks after President Barack Obama visited the state vowing to cut through bureaucratic red tape and approve the southern portion of the pipeline. In a speech at a TransCanada pipe yard in Cushing, Oklahoma on March 22 Obama said: “Today, we’re making this new pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf a priority. So the southern leg of it we’re making a priority, and we’re going to go ahead and get that done.”
I did ask the president when we could anticipate a decision on the Keystone pipeline,” said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, the association’s chairwoman. “Finally, he did come back and say that he anticipates an answer one way or the other in a couple of months.
First and foremost, we have shifted the income tax burden in this country down. And understand that the share of income that people in the middle class and the upper middle class are paying is higher now than it was in the early ’60s, while for people at the very top it’s much lower. That means people can’t save, they can’t invest.
Secondly, we have completely eviscerated unions. Only about 7 percent of private production workers are in unions now, compared to in the mid 30s 40 years ago when we were much healthier economically. (All of our competitors, our major economic competitors are highly unionized. In Germany, executives have unions.) And that’s allowed companies to push down wages.
And then deindustrialization, closing our factories and sending them to China, has cost us the equivalent of every job of every kind in greater metropolitan Philadelphia. Two-point-eight million jobs—that’s just the jobs we lost to China. Then there’s Mexico and Vietnam and a lot of other places.
So we’ve been pursuing policies that have made the global-level capitalists very wealthy, and we’ve been doing so by doing terrible damage to the rest of the country.